Why I'll be concerned about Billy Butler if he participates in the Home Run Derby
The Kansas City Star
Billy Butler will probably be selected for the Home Run Derby today, and Kansas City will be excited for him. Deservedly so. This is the Royals’ first All-Star hitter since Mike Sweeney, a homegrown star who does it the right way and it’ll be fun to watch him on that national stage.
Royals manager Ned Yost has said he’d want Butler to be in the derby. Hitting coach Kevin Seitzer said the same thing. Butler himself has said he wants to do it, that he thinks the downsides to participating — that it gets guys out of their swings — are overstated and, generally, for whatever it’s worth, I agree with him.
Except there’s a part of me that wonders about this specific case.
Butler is not a home run hitter. Unlike Giancarlo Stanton or Jose Bautista or Josh Hamilton — assuming those guys are picked — Butler will be doing something that’s unnatural for him. Butler has exceptional balance at the plate, uses all fields, concentrates on hitting line drives instead of long flies and these are all habits he’ll have to ditch in front of the largest audience he’s ever hit for.
Habits are important to Billy, and he will be forced to break habits. Not just in the derby itself, but in the preparation, both physical and mental.
He’ll be trying to hit home runs, swinging harder than he normally does, and remember this is a guy who has repeatedly said his swing gets messed up when he swings harder than normal and tries to hit home runs.
Butler is an exceptionally smart hitter, but this isn’t about smarts. He’ll want to show off, especially being in his home park. All his peers will be watching, and that will be important to him.
I’m not telling you that Billy is doomed to a 1-for-18 slump after the All-Star break. Like I said, I usually think these things are overstated.
I’m just telling you that the ingredients are there for this to be something to watch out for.