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Defying The Mold: A Closer Look At Billy Butler's Slightly Strange Start

We haven't really talked much about Billy Butler this season, which is both understandable given how much controversy there's (already) been, and a little odd, since he's one of the four or five good players on the roster.

2010 - Billy Butler 33 130 14 43 7 0 3 19 8 17 0 0 .331 .366 .454

  • That .331 average is the first thing that jumps out at me. For someone with no speed, Butler's always been a high average player. Butler's line drive rate, 25%, is driving that high batting average, along with a dip in Butler's strikeout rate (13.1%).
  • Butler's walk rate is down, fairly dramatically. In 2010, Butler has only walked 5.6% of the time, a career Major League low for him. Thus far, his walk and strikeout numbers look very similar to those posted in 2008, when Butler finished the year with a .275/.324/.400 line. In 2009, Butler walked (8.6%) and Ked more (16.9%).
  • Overall, Billy is swinging a little more, but it doesn't look like its a meaningful jump, especially after just 30 odd games. Butler's swing rate is 44.5%, up about one percent from last season, and again, closer to what he did in 2008. He is swinging at more balls outside of the strike zone (28.7% up from a career average of around 24%) but this hasn't resulted in more strikeouts or poorly hit balls. Perhaps there's a certain type of pitch that Billy's learned to consistently produce line drives with. I don't know.
  • To be honest, a small part of me is a little worried about what's going on with Billy, although that's probably too strong. I'm just still trying to figure out what kind of player he is, and is going to be. Although he's still incredibly young, despite his appearance, Billy is probably never going to be the .260/.400/.600 take and rake Adam Dunn esque player that many of us might like to see. He's got a bit of Ken Harvey to his game. I'd love to hear what you guys see as long-term comps for Billy.