FanPost

It's a Shame About Billy Ray

Much has already been made of Billy Butler and his clipped wings, especially on these fanposts. Butler takes the extra base at less than half the rate of an average base runner. Butler has 72 double plays in the last three years, which has cost his team about 43 runs (implementing a little sabermetrics). That's a lot of runs. But not all of this is Butler's fault. Butler has been presented with 400 double play opportunities. Over than time span, Alex Gordon has been faced with 271. Gordon hits more fly balls and also strikes out more, helping to lower his double-play rate. (In fact, Moustakas has the lowest double play rate on the team, but that's mostly because it's hard to double up the runner on first when the infield fly rule has been called.)

But make no mistake: many of those lost runs are on Ned Yost's ledger. Butler has batted 3rd or 4th nearly exclusively over than span. The third spot in the order is exposed to way more double play opportunities that any other spot in the order. In a lineup analysis that I posted earlier, the best lineups either had Butler in the 6th spot or leadoff: the first spot in the batting order experiences 70% fewer DP opportunities than the third spot. If double plays cost a team 0.6 runs on average, that's a difference of almost 8 runs over the course of a season. Nearly one full win in the standing (according to FanGraphs). In the fourth spot, double plays aren't as common but the cost for each double play is significantly higher.

Now, I'm quoting a lot of numbers here that need substantiation. You can see the statistics on double plays here, and a little more on Butler specifically here.

Butler's clay feet force me into the bizarre position of advocating him for batting leadoff just to minimize the damage in double plays. How much better would the team be if Butler ran the bases at league-average rates? (But still no stolen bases.) I reran my lineup simulator, entering average values for his extra base rates and double play rates. In this case, the best lineups usually have him hitting in either the 1 or 2 spot (trading off with Hosmer). And these lineups produce 17 more runs than when you factor in Butler's actual baserunning.

I love Country Breakfast, and I hate the trolls who constantly complain that he needs to "produce more". But 17 runs... I don't love that.

This FanPost was written by a member of the Royals Review community. It does not necessarily reflect the views of the editors and writers of this site.

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