Can Butler make Balboni go Bye Bye?

September 05, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals designated hitter Billy Butler (16) connects for a double in the eighth inning of the game against the Texas Rangers at Kauffman Stadium. The Rangers won 7-6. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-US PRESSWIRE



September ennui, an annual tradition in Royals fandom. It takes many forms. Some will ignore the team altogether to instead follow teams on the grid iron or watch some tennis in Flushing. Personally, I've been catching up on old Cheers episodes on Netflix while coming to grips with the fact that there is another small human being with my DNA who depends on my love and income. Twice now, I've had a child born in the waning months of a disappointing Royals baseball season, I can vouch for the fact that it's an interesting way to keep your mind off of the soul-crushing feeling of another losing season. It is, however a very time-consuming and expensive route to take, so you might want to opt for football or soccer instead.

Another choice is to find some small individual achievement within the team and watch hoping that a player can accomplish it. The most obvious would be any player trying to break the hilariously still-standing record of 36 home runs by Steve Bye Bye Balboni from 1985.

The only player with any sort of realistic chance this year is Billy Butler who is sitting on 25 home runs with 22 games to play, leaving him 11 short. Some extremely complex calculus tells us that he needs to average a home run every other game to get to the promised land. So, can he do it?

First lets see what Butler's best 22 game stretch has been over his career. After looking at every 22 game stretch throughout his career, his biggest power surge came in late July through early August of 2011. From July 22 through August 17th he amassed 9 home runs in 26 games. Depending on where you slice it you can come up with two different 22 games stretches where he hit 8 home runs. That stretch of games is shown below:

Date PA AB H 2B 3B HR BB
Jul 22 5 4 2 0 0 1 1
Jul 23 5 5 1 0 0 0 0
Jul 24 4 4 0 0 0 0 0
Jul 25 6 6 2 1 0 0 0
Jul 26 5 4 3 1 0 1 0
Jul 27 5 5 3 0 0 1 0
Jul 28 4 4 1 0 0 1 0
Jul 29 6 6 2 0 0 2 0
Jul 30 4 4 1 0 0 0 0
Jul 31 4 3 1 0 0 0 0
August PA AB H 2B 3B HR BB
Aug 2 4 2 1 0 0 0 1
Aug 3 4 3 1 0 0 1 0
Aug 4 5 5 2 1 0 0 0
Aug 5 4 4 1 0 0 0 0
Aug 6 4 4 0 0 0 0 0
Aug 7 4 4 0 0 0 0 0
Aug 8 4 3 1 1 0 0 1
Aug 9 4 4 0 0 0 0 0
Aug 10 5 5 0 0 0 0 0
Aug 11 4 3 0 0 0 0 1
Aug 12 5 4 2 0 0 1 1
Aug 13 4 4 1 0 0 0 0
Aug 14 4 4 1 0 0 0 0
Aug 15 4 4 1 0 0 0 0
Aug 16 4 4 2 0 0 0 0
Aug 17 4 3 2 0 0 1 1
673 597 174 44 0 19 66
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Original Table
Generated 9/11/2012.

While this is Billy Butlers biggest power surge to date, he still would need to find three more home runs to tie and a fourth to break the record. It's not an impossible task, but it sure seems unlikely.

The funny thing about Billy Butler is that he has never been a feast or famine guy. He just seems to be like clockwork. Whether the team is going good or bad, whether it's hot or cold or if the team is tied or being blown out Butler gets his hits and occasionally hits one out of the park.The fact that his biggest power season to date (2012) hasn't featured his biggest power surge is indicative of his consistency.

Butler hasn't been doing himself any favors as he's gone homer-less in his last 22 games and has been stuck on 99 career bombs. However, over that time he has hit .341 so he hasn't been in a slump, just not parking the ball on the yard side of the fence.

Maybe he's got his mind set on trying to break Willie Wilsons single season hits record of 230. In which case Butler needs to average 3 hits per game to end the season.* If that's the case, he should give up now.

*230 hits is a crazy number by the way. It matches the career single-season high for Pete Rose and was only surpassed once in Ty Cobb's career.

More likely, Butler is just being himself. See ball. Hit ball. Sometimes it goes over the fence, sometimes it bangs off the side, but in the end it typically ends with Butler standing on a base turning to look at the scoreboard and realizing that the team is still losing. But hey, Butler is paid to hit and we're on our couches trying to find something to keep us interested. We all play our part.

- Nick Scott

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