Billy Butler Loves Hitting the Ball to Center Field

Butler has got some crazy Frenchy eyes going on.

A few weeks ago, I was driving and heard from the radio broadcast team that opposing teams' outfielders are really playing Billy Butler to hit the ball to center field and are giving him the lines. I decided to use batted ball data to see if there was any reason that teams are doing the shift.

To start with, I needed the average number of balls hit by RH hitters into various parts of the outfield. I divided the outfield in 5 equal zones, LF, LCF, CF, RCF, RF and looked at the percentage of line drives, fly balls and home runs hit into each zone. Here are the number for all MLB hitters from 2007 to 2011:

Year LF LCF CF RCF RF
2007 18.3% 19.4% 26.5% 18.7% 17.0%
2008 18.9% 18.5% 26.6% 18.8% 17.2%
2009 18.3% 18.3% 27.1% 18.5% 17.8%
2010 17.8% 17.9% 27.6% 18.5% 18.3%
2011 16.7% 19.2% 27.5% 18.7% 17.9%

Now here are the percentages for Billy Butler:

Year LF LCF CF RCF RF
2007 13.0% 13.0% 28.7% 26.1% 19.1%
2008 11.7% 17.2% 29.7% 20.7% 20.7%
2009 11.6% 19.0% 22.2% 26.4% 20.8%
2010 10.8% 19.6% 24.5% 21.1% 24.0%
2011 10.6% 22.3% 28.7% 22.3% 16.0%

Finally here are the percentage differences of the league averages subtracted from Billy's values:

Year LF LCF CF RCF RF
2007 -5.3% -6.3% 2.2% 7.4% 2.1%
2008 -7.2% -1.3% 3.1% 1.9% 3.5%
2009 -6.7% 0.6% -4.9% 7.9% 3.1%
2010 -7.0% 1.7% -3.0% 2.6% 5.8%
2011 -6.1% 3.1% 1.3% 3.7% -1.9%

First looking at just Butler's numbers, it can be seen that he has adjusted from previous seasons by putting the ball in center field more instead of going the opposite way. In previous seasons he hit to RF any where from 2.1% to 5.8% points more than the league average.  This season he is hitting there 1.9% points less. The gain is distributed to the 3 CF positions (LCF, CF, RF) which he hits to about 8% points more than the league average.

Also, he never has hit to LF at any time in his career and that continues in 2011.  He hits it there about 5% to 7% points less that the rest of the league.  With Billy's blazing fast speed, if he even hits it into the corner, he has about 0% chance of getting a triple out of the hit.

Billy Butler is definitely hitting the ball more to the center part of the field compared to how he did in the past and compared to the rest of the league. It seems that some other teams have noticed. They are taking away the gaps in the center part of the field and giving him more room on the lines.

 

-------------------------------------

Frenchy's data (it was asked for in the comments and since they don't handle tables at all, I will post it here):

Year LF LCF CF RCF RF
2007 17.7% 23.4% 24.0% 17.2% 17.7%
2008 21.0% 21.5% 22.0% 17.7% 17.7%
2009 14.3% 20.1% 26.8% 20.5% 18.3%
2010 19.8% 15.1% 27.3% 20.9% 16.9%
2011 15.5% 22.7% 28.9% 16.5% 16.5%
X
Log In Sign Up

forgot?
Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Royals Review

You must be a member of Royals Review to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Royals Review. You should read them.

Join Royals Review

You must be a member of Royals Review to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Royals Review. You should read them.

Spinner.vc97ec6e

Authenticating

Great!

Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.

tracking_pixel_9351_tracker