Power Outage: Is There Hope That Josh Hamilton Or Billy Butler Show Improved Power?

by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)

Josh Hamilton – Los Angeles Angels – Outfielder
Maybe we should all learn that the minute we want to trade for Josh Hamilton, that’s when he’s going to significantly disappoint us. He’s never been a consistent threat, but even years seemed to be when he thrived… Has anyone told him it’s 2014?

Entering play on Wednesday Hamilton was hitting .315 with 4 HR in 130 AB. Obviously injuries helped to play a roll, but even the average is hard to buy into.

Sure he owned a 28.7% line drive rate, but is anyone buying into that type of number? There’s little chance he maintains it, just like there is no chance that he can keep a .446 BABIP. Throw in a career worst 28.9% strikeout rate and the average appears destined to collapse.

That is, unless there’s a power surge coming…

Thus far he owns an average distance on his non-groundballs of 266.218. Last season, when he hit 21 HR, that number was at 261.87. In 2012, when he 43 HR, he was at 281.548. Yes that season was in Texas, but it doesn’t much matter. The chance of him suddenly going off like that is a long-shot.

However, with his average distance actually being greater than last season there is still some hope. Even if he’s not going to push 30-40 HR, if he could contribute an additional 10-15 the rest of the way no one would complain.

There is some hope, so if you are an owner don’t completely give up on him.  While he’s not going to be the superstar he was in 2012, he could bring similar production to what he posted in 2013.


Billy Butler – Kansas City Royals
Remember when Butler hit 29 HR? It seems like a lifetime ago, as he sits with just 2 HR in 2014.

Let’s quickly take a look at his average distance on non-groundballs over the past few season:

  • 2011 – 279.969
  • 2012 – 278.597
  • 2013 – 265.013
  • 2014 – 270.156

Obviously we can throw the 29 HR campaign out the window, but he had 19 HR in 2012 and 15 HR in 2013. Granted, a groundball rate of 50.8% and fly ball rate of 25.0% is going to limit his power potential, but still… Just 2 HR?!? Butler has more upside than that.

The addition of Raul Ibanez could cut into Butler’s playing time, which is something we need to watch, but there is more potential here. Even his average, which sits at .272, could improve. Part of that would be due to increased power, but he also owns a career best 23.7% line drive rate and a solid 16.4 strikeout rate.

While the overall value is limited, there’s enough appeal that he’s worth holding onto.

Sources – Fangraphs, Baseball Heat Maps

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  1. Bryan says:

    Do you still like Butler more than Belt or Betts in a Utility spot?

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      Probably not, but it depends on need. Butler should get hot, but it’s getting awfully discouraging. I’d leave him on my bench until he starts producing

      • Bryan says:

        If you could only roster 1 of these 3, who would you roster?

        • Rotoprofessor says:

          If it’s a keeper league, Betts. It wouldn’t surprise me if he had the better second half of any of them. Belt is right there, as well, and should provide more power.

          Butler would be my third choice at this point.

  2. Bbboston says:

    Josh Hamilton: So are you saying he’s. .270 avg, 12 hr guy for remaining of the year?

    • Dave says:

      12 hr’s seems spot on with a BA between .250 on the low end and .270 on the high end.

      His current .247 xBA shows the downside of his approach at the plate when the hits aren’t falling in.

      As far as Butler goes, I don’t see a huge turnaround in the 2nd half. His .250 xBA shows what happens when a really slow guy hits a ton of ground balls. Even with an impressive line drive rate thus far and a “normal” BABIP, the ground balls are going to kill him and his power potential. Throw on top of all of that his well below league average power he’s displaying this year and 5 HR the rest of the way isn’t out of the question. I’m not sure 5 HR is worth stashing Butler and if an owner in your league wants to try to “buy-low” on him, pull the trigger in my opinion.

    • Rotoprofessor says:

      I’d say that’s a good expectation, yep!

      Dave – In regards to Butler, I don’t disagree on selling him. It all depends on the offer, if you aren’t getting much sometimes it’s better just to wait and see.

  3. Evan says:

    Surprised no one mentioned that Hamilton is on the Angels, not the Rangers as mentioned above.

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