Fantasy Baseball Slow Starts: Is it Time to Move on from Billy Butler?


Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports

Billy Butler is near the top of the “most disappointing player” lists of 2014. To be fair, he’s always had a few knocks against him.

  •  Because Butler is almost exclusively a DH, he is typically relegated to a UTL spot in most leagues.
  • He doesn’t hit as many home runs as you’d like from a UTL/DH/1B guy.

He has however always been a consistent source of Runs, RBI, AVG, and OBP. As more and more advanced stats are becoming popular his value was growing in these newer scoring leagues.

So I’ll own up to nabbing Butler in one of my drafts. Now he is sitting in free agency in that very league. In two other leagues he is still rostered though. So it made me wonder, is it time for those other owners to move on, or for me to make room for him in the aforementioned league?

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Of course this is assuming he just keeps his current pace. The law of averages part of me says, he absolutely has to come up from .235 AVG, and .294 OBP (though not as high from OBP). Is it possible that a guy who has been this consistent could drop off so hard in a season that he really should be in his prime?

Country Breakfast is only 28 years old after all. So for crying out loud, this should have been his power breakout season, and he is in danger of not hitting 5?!?  So the question of whether it is time to move on from Butler is certainly in play.

Another thing to consider with Butler are his BB% and K%. Currently he is at 8.5% BB% which is down from last season but not far off his career total, 9.1%. His K% sits at 17.5, his highest ever and well above his 14.4% career mark. So while he hasn’t taken a completely different approach to his pitch selection, he is certainly not as sharp as he once was.

Maybe he is just trying a little too hard and expanding his zone too much for the sake of making more contact. If that is the case, then he could easily right the ship with a little discipline.

Much like with George Springer last week, I think that what league type you are in dictates your play on Billy Butler. For instance, if you are in a league that uses a DH—maybe it is time to step out of the 90’s—but clearly Butler is still a VERY valuable option going forward. However it is not likely you need a DH, so, it comes down to three factors:

1. Categories: If you league is standard 5×5, then Butler has his lowest value, I’d grade him a D- player.

If you are in a league that has added, OBP, walks, or hits then he gains a letter grade for each:

  • 1 Extra Category: C-
  • 2 Extra Categories: B-
  • If you are in a league that has all three for some reason, or in a points league that is a hybrid of hitting then Butler is a prime buy low candidate.

2. Depth: If your league is only 10 at regular rosters then you have 250 players out of the pool, Country Breakfast should probably stay in the pool and get all prunie. As you add teams and go deeper in the player pool, then he certainly should be on a roster.

If you are in an 11 team 25 players per team, he is on the fringe,. If you go to 12 teams or more than 300 players out of the pool and he should be on a roster.

3. Type: If you have a league that locks weekly or limits your daily transactions, he may not be a great player since he is sure to lose at-bats when the Kansas City Royals are playing in an NL park. As counter-intuitive as it would be to drop a hitter for three games in Arizona or two in Colorado, you may want to drop him — especially if he isn’t locked in. Though, hopefully by then he has righted the ship, although he’s still not likely to get many at-bats.

I also think he is not great in a head-to-head style league. Average is too much of a week-to-week crap shoot in average, so guys that don’t hit for great power even at their best aren’t great in that format.

Ultimately, I am not ready to move on from Country Breakfast just yet. He is a professional hitter at 28 years of age. I just think he is in a weird funk right now and there might be many better options in the short term. However, I am willing to stash Billy Butler on my bench in the right situation.