Critical season for Billy Butler

Updated: March 2, 2011, 3:21 PM ET
By Eric Karabell

The major league leader in doubles the past two seasons is Kansas City Royals first baseman/designated hitter Billy Butler, and you know what they say about doubles in the fantasy baseball/statistical community: As a player matures, those doubles start to travel further and become home runs. Fantasy owners like the home runs. That's a fantasy statistic. A year ago, the common argument on evaluating Butler was that breakout 2009 season, with 51 doubles, plus 21 home runs and 93 RBIs, was just the tip of the iceberg.

Well, perhaps strides can still be made, but Butler did not improve on those power numbers in 2010. The home runs dropped to 15, which is frankly just not good enough when it comes to a first baseman. Through the first five months, Butler hit only 11 home runs, which is why many of you probably gave up on him. I mean, nobody seems to want to own James Loney, as he's being selected in the 22nd round, 23rd among first basemen. Loney's no Jose Bautista, and he hit fewer home runs than Butler, but he knocked in more runs. Butler is being selected 13th among first basemen, as if last season's power dip never happened. Butler didn't hit fewer home runs because, like Nelson Cruz, he had multiple disabled list stints. In fact, Butler played in 158 games, ranking 20th in plate appearances. He was out there, and while we appreciate the .318 batting average, we need more power.