Royals' Butler staying home for first All-Star Game
Royals' Butler staying home for first All-Star Game
By Dick Kaegel
MINNEAPOLIS -- Billy Butler is Kansas City's All-Star player in the year of Kansas City's All-Star Game.
Butler, the Royals' designated hitter, was the only hometown team player selected for the American League squad announced Sunday on the MLB All-Star Selection Show presented by Taco Bell.
This is the first All-Star Game selection for Butler, now in his sixth year with the Royals. The 2012 Midsummer Classic will be played July 10 at his home park, Kauffman Stadium.
American League roster
Mike Napoli, TEX
Prince Fielder, DET
Robinson Cano, NYY
Adrian Beltre, TEX
Derek Jeter, NYY
Josh Hamilton, TEX
Curtis Granderson, NYY
Jose Bautista, TOR
David Ortiz, BOS
Ryan Cook, OAK
Matt Harrison, TEX
Felix Hernandez, SEA
Jim Johnson, BAL
Joe Nathan, TEX
Chris Perez, CLE
David Price, TB
Fernando Rodney, TB
CC Sabathia, NYY
Chris Sale, CWS
Justin Verlander, DET
Jered Weaver, LAA
C.J. Wilson, LAA
Joe Mauer, MIN
Matt Wieters, BAL
Elvis Andrus, TEX
Asdrubal Cabrera, CLE
Miguel Cabrera, DET
Ian Kinsler, TEX
Paul Konerko, CWS
Adam Jones, BAL
Mike Trout, LAA
Mark Trumbo, LAA
Billy Butler, KC
Adam Dunn, CWS
He was informed of the honor by manager Ned Yost just before Sunday's game against the Twins.
"I'm very humbled and very honored, especially at our own ballpark and being able to play in front of the home crowd," Butler said. "My family is going to come out to see me play and do all the activities on the field. I'm just speechless right now."
Although Butler was the only Royals player selected, he said: "There are other guys in that clubhouse that are deserving as well."
Kansas City fans have a chance to put a second Royals player in the All-Star Game. Closer Jonathan Broxton was named as the one of the five AL players up for the 2012 All-Star Game MLB.com Final Vote presented by Firestone.
Butler was selected by AL manager Ron Washington in conjunction with Major League Baseball.
"It's just like Ned said: It's once in a lifetime -- you can't ever predict you're going to be on there again," Butler said.
"They can't take it away from you. You're an American League All-Star and it's such an awesome thing to see next to your name. Obviously, when you get to big leagues and you establish yourself here, it's something you strive to do."
The 83rd Major League Baseball All-Star Game will be televised nationally by FOX Sports, in Canada by Rogers Sportsnet and RDS, and worldwide by partners in more than 200 countries via MLB International's independent feed. Pregame ceremonies begin at 6:30 p.m. CT. ESPN Radio and ESPN Radio Deportes will provide exclusive national radio coverage. MLB Network, MLB.com and Sirius XM also will provide comprehensive All-Star Game coverage.
Fans will also have the opportunity to participate in the official voting for the Ted Williams Most Valuable Player presented by Chevrolet via the 2012 MLB.com All-Star Game MVP Vote during the All-Star Game on MLB.com.
Butler, 26, is on pace to have one of his best seasons. Through 76 games, he has 16 home runs, 13 doubles and 48 RBIs with a .297 batting average, a .512 slugging percentage and .365 on-base percentage. Even so, he's a right-handed force who is often overlooked.
"He's way under the radar," Yost said. "Even in Kansas City he's under the radar. But he's there every day doing his job, really, better than everybody else. He's just very consistent, just a good player."
A 6-foot-1, 240-pound designated hitter, Butler occasionally fills in at first base but slugging a baseball is his position and his passion. He is a student of the hitting art and dissects opposing pitchers with the eye of a surgeon.
He loves to see left-handed pitchers, hitting .373 (28-for-75), against them this year.
Butler has 16 go-ahead RBIs, second in the AL and fifth in the Majors. His big hits include three eighth-inning game winners, two of them home runs.
Matter of fact, Butler would like to compete in the July 9 Home Run Derby at Kauffman Stadium.
"I would definitely be interested, especially at our ballpark. It'd be great, I think it'd be a lot of fun," Butler said. "I think they'd be real excited to have one of their own in the Home Run Derby. It's up to Robinson Cano, and there are a lot of guys on that team that could do a great job on that thing, but if I get asked, I'd love to."
One of his most memorable blasts was a pinch-hit home run off closer Jason Motte on June 17 at St. Louis that, with the Royals one strike from defeat, tied the score and enabled a 15-inning, 5-3 victory.
"He really works at it," Yost said. "People have no idea how in depth Billy is when it comes to hitting. I've seen guys that can hit but can't hit really good pitching. Billy can hit really good pitching. That Motte deal in St. Louis was just another example of it. He's the total package when it comes to an offensive player."
Butler's accomplishments have grown over the years. At the start of this season, he was one of 10 Major Leaguers since 2009 to have at least 500 hits, 200 runs, 50 home runs and an average over .300. The others included Albert Pujols, Joey Votto and Ryan Braun. Butler also had more doubles, 140, than anyone during that three-year span.
When his soaring blast left Target Field on Saturday, it put him far ahead of his home-run pace of last year when he didn't hit his 16th until his 127th game on Aug. 23.
Turns out, he's been on an All-Star pace as well.
"This is a very high honor and I'm very proud to get it," Butler said. "I know [the fans] are going to be real happy for me and they've always been great to me. It's just an awesome time for me and, hopefully, they're going to be excited at the game, too."
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.