Eric Hosmer, Mike Moustakas, Wil Myers, Alex Gordon, Salvador Perez, Alcides Escobar, Johnny Giavotella, Lorenzo Cain. What do all of those guys have in common? Besides being Royals players, of course?
None of those players has had two above average hitting seasons in their career. Not a single one.
(Edit for clarification: at the major league level; of course they have done well in the minors)
It's easy to get caught up in the Royals young lineup with the last member of the Big Three looking to roam somewhere in the KC outfield starting this year. The lineup is young and, we hope, will be great. But none of those players have put up above average offensive numbers for two straight years. Hosmer's in a huge sophomore slump and likely will end up below average. Moose was awful last year, though has been solid this year. Myers has yet to play in the bis. Cain didn't play last year and has been injured this year, Perez only has 200 ML PAs, Giavotella only has 250 PAs, and Escobar is onely barely clearing above average this year with a 109 OPS+. Then, there's Billy.
Billy's career OPS+ is 121 (3 points better than Mike Sweeney by the way). I'm glad that Billy got so much love at the All-Star game, because over the past four years, he has not only been good, but one of the most consistent hitters in baseball.
Billy had been fantastically consistent--for four years. Again, none of the other Royals players in the lineup have been above average for two straight years, and Butler has been around 30% better than average over a four year period. Impressive. While Alex Gordon will likely finish a second straight year above average offensively, he is the only one who will accomplish the feat apart from Butler. The Royals offense isn't nearly as reliable as some of us though.
Butler is extremely important to the lineup, as you can always count on good contributions. But just how important is he?
In offseason before 2011, Dayton Moore signed Butler to a four-year contract with a club option for the fifth, keeping Butler in KC for the entirety of his 20s. Here's Butler's salary history:
|2008||22||Kansas City Royals||$399,000|
|2009||23||Kansas City Royals||$421,000|
|2010||24||Kansas City Royals||$470,000|
|2011||25||Kansas City Royals||$3,500,000|
|2012||26||Kansas City Royals||$8,000,000||AS|
|2013||27||Kansas City Royals||$8,000,000|
|2014||28||Kansas City Royals||$8,000,000|
|2015||29||Kansas City Royals||*$12,500,000||$12.5M Team Option, $1M Buyout|
|Earliest Free Agent: 2015|
|Career to date (may be incomplete)||$4,790,000||Does not include future salaries|
The question I pose is this: should the Royals consider resigning Butler again? By 2015, Myers, Hosmer, and Moose will be at or soon reaching arbitration. Does it make sense to use any of that money for Butler? When should they do it?