2014 was a season of lows for Billy Butler… career lows to be exact. While some may think that the stats were representative of what to come in the future and don’t agree to the Oakland Athletics shelling out a three-year, $30 million contract on him, on the other hand, his consistency since 2008 could provide reason to believe that Butler could return to form in 2015.
Butler, in 2014, saw career lows in his entire triple slash: batting average (.271), on-base percentage (.323) and slugging (.379). But he also saw his lowest total of walks (41), home runs (9), and RBI (66) since 2008. (Baseball Reference for stats)
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But prior to 2014, Butler had five straight seasons of batting around .300 which is proven in his career triple-slash (.295/.359/.449). Even though Butler’s defense has always been below average, from 2008-2013 Butler had a WAR greater than two each season, his peak being in 2010 with a 3.2 WAR.
His slump in 2014 could have been a leading reason for Butler seeing 54 AB in Spring Training, the eighth most of any A’s player. He also batted .296 in 20 games this spring as well as crushing five homers and 15 RBI so far. His total bases (35) in spring for Oakland is currently only behind Mark Canha (42) and Billy Burns (40), both of whom have had 20+ more AB.
Of course it’s only Spring Training (I can’t say that enough, it’s only Spring Training!) and it’s a small sample size, but Butler has looked no less impressive than he has in the past and while 2014 was a struggle, there’s plenty of statistics in Butler’s career to show he’s capable of getting back into form in 2015.
Butler in the heart of the order with base-stealing threats on base should be more than comfortable for him (and somewhat heartbreaking to A’s fans) but the fact is Butler bats .313 in his career with men on as opposed to .280 when the bases are empty.
While players are usually judged on their most recent collection of work, Butler’s five seasons prior should be enough to keep some on his bandwagon. And the fact that a .271 BA is the worst he’s had, Butler should not be overlooked as a “breakout” candidate. At 28, there may be plenty of years left in the man and his bat.
So, do not worry A’s fans, ol’ Country Breakfast should see a bounce-back year in 2015.