Thursday, May 26, 2011

Drew Butera's Atrocious Season



Anyone who has watched the Twins at all this season likely understands that Drew Butera is not a good major league player. Either you've heard of Butera and know of his offensive shortcomings, or you've never heard of him, which also speaks volumes about his ability as a major league player.

Butera has long been considered a 'defensive specialist' and despite being one of the worst offensive players in the minor leagues over the last few years, he managed to spend the majority of that time playing in AAA because of his defensive ability behind the plate. The Twins liked Butera enough last year while Jose Morales was injured that they decided to trade Morales this off-season because they had picked Butera as Joe Mauer's backup.

Unfortunately, Butera's offense has been even worse than anyone could have predicted. He's hitting a miserable .122/.151/.156. His On-base Plus Slugging percentage (.307) is 185 points lower than just Jose Bautista's on-base percentage (.492). That is absolutely unreal to see at this level.

National League pitchers as a whole are hitting .134/.166/.168, which shows even more so how poor Butera has been with the bat this season. He's been nearly 10% worse offensively than a group of players who wouldn't even be hitting if they played in the American League.

On nights Carl Pavano starts, the Twins would actually potentially be a better offensive team if they chose to DH for Drew Butera instead. Pavano is a career .145/.159/.205 hitter, although he hasn't more than 10 at bats in a season since 2004. Obviously the team would never choose to DH for Butera, because the embarrassment it would create for him far outweighs the slim chance that a pitcher would actually be enough of an upgrade offensively to make a difference.

However, it's clear Drew Butera has no business being a major league catcher. His Adjusted OPS+, which adjusts based on the ballpark you play in (Hitting 50 home runs in San Diego's park means more than hitting 50 home runs at the Rockies park, for example), is an almost unheard of -17. The highest Adjusted OPS+ in MLB history was Barry Bonds 2002 season in which he put up a ridiculous 268. Mauer's 2009 MVP season was a 170.

Using a minimum of 50 plate appearances, Drew Butera's OPS+ of -17 is the 16th worst OPS+ ranking since 1900. The worst OPS+ in history actually goes to a different former Twins catcher, Tom Nieto, who managed just 4 hits in 60 at bats, posting an OPS+ of -54. It's hard to imagine someone being more than three times worse than Drew Butera, but apparently Nieto's 1988 season was that much worse.

Little known Drew Butera is in fact making history, but unfortunately rather than being acknowledged for his talent, he's becoming well-known for his lack of talent, at least offensively. When the catcher who is leading your team in at bats can't outhit national league pitchers, it's pretty easy to understand why the team sports the worst record in baseball. Send him to AAA, or AA, or just release him, but there's absolutely no reason Butera should swing a bat ever again. At this juncture, I'm not even sure if he could hit a beach ball. Or Ryan Griffin.