Brad Evans' distrubing infatuation for Billy Butler(notes) is legendary. Evidence of his unwavering passion can be read here and here. Strangely, however, Brandon Funston is the Yahoo! fanalyst chasing the chub this season. Read, reflect and exercise your democratic right. The Docs are ready to operate …
Evans leads off: Over the years, I’ve penned several tenderhearted odes to Billy B. How can you resist those pinchable cheeks, million-dollar smile and ten-dollar Dickies? Unfortunately, our romance is on the rocks. Cold shoulders and modest power yields have permanently fractured the relationship. As a result, we’ve mutually agreed to see other first basemen.
Like any fanalyst on the rebound, I’ve drifted as far away from Billy as possible, confiding in a player his opposite, Morales.
Smooth, consistent and terribly undervalued, the import is positively dreamy. Though Scioscia plans to ease him back into action this spring, Morales’ health isn’t a concern. He will contribute immediately. Because of his steady contact, stellar HR/FB rates, prime age (27) and meaty spot in an above average order, he should pick up where he left off. Remember, during his breakout season in ’09, the switch-hitter finished with a .306-34-108-86 line, good for 33rd overall among hitters. That same year, Butler, in his best season to date, ranked 190th.
Butler is a sensational, patient hitter who at 24 still has time to develop into the 30-homer slugger most envisioned when he broke into the league. But don’t expect a dramatic jump this year. His inflated GB/FB rate and precipitous ISO decline a season ago suggest he’s probably 2-3 years away from discovering his inner Tartabull. Morales, on the other hand, is ripe for a return to prominence, making him well worth the higher price tag.
Sorry Billy – *sniff* – but this year Kendry is the Noise’s true buttercup.
Funston cleans up: I’ll admit, a chance to write a pro-Billy Butler spin against his not-so-secret admirer Brad Evans, on Valentine’s Day no less, was too irresistible to pass up. That’s not to say I’m not intellectually committed to Butler’s cause. After all, we’re talking about a 24-year-old who has been a career .300 hitter over nearly 2,000 major league at bats.
Yes, the hulking Butler’s power has been disappointing to this point but it’s easy imagine that aspect of his game emerging soon when you consider that no player in baseball has more doubles combined over the past two seasons (96). And, again, he posted those totals in his age 23 and 24 seasons. Also worth mentioning, he had a 162-game average of 30 HRs in his 395 career minor league contests.
You can argue that Butler is still at a point where he can only hope to offer the power that Morales brings to the table. But that’s if you make the assumption that Morales returns from last season’s gruesome ankle injury without a hitch. That’s possible, but certainly a dangerously optimistic approach. And, as teammate Torii Hunter(notes) explains, the Angels are talking big returns for Morales because, after doing very little in free agency, they don’t really have much choice other than to go all in on Morales’ comeback:
"What else are we going to do? Are we going to tell Kendry, 'Just chill for a couple months?' Yeah, we're asking a lot from him. We're hoping for a lot from him …
I’m taking Butler because it’s clear his best is yet to come. For Morales, I think we’ve already passed that point.
Images courtesy of US Presswire and KCRoyals.com