Handing out the first-half awards

  • GM 90
  • HR 3
  • RBI 35
  • R 34
  • OBP .324
  • AVG .272

Only about half the teams in the American League still employ a creature that used to roam the AL earth back in prehistoric baseball times. We know that creature as "the DH," the proud descendants of Dave Kingman and Rico Carty, of Don Baylor and Hal McRae, of Edgar Martinez and Harold Baines -- men who never had to worry about stuffing anything but their bats into their equipment bags. Until this year, Butler pretty much fit right into that species. Over the first seven seasons and 4,200 plate appearances of his career, he averaged 35 doubles, 17 homers and a .298/.364/.459/.823 slash line per season. He was no Edgar. He was no McRae. But by Royals standards, he was definitely productive enough to keep around. Then came this season. A year that has made us ask, pretty much daily: What the heck? More than 360 plate appearances into his season, Butler has hit three home runs. Three. Eugenio Suarez hit three homers in his first eight games in the big leagues. Butler has hit three all year. Two years ago, he slugged .510. This year, he's slugging .353. In the 42-season history of DHing, there hasn't been a single "regular" DH (i.e., a guy who DHed in 75 percent of his games) who was given 500 plate appearances without hitting at least five home runs and slugging at least .350. But that's where Butler is heading -- toward a season in which he reaches neither of those pedestrian plateaus. At age 28. For a team that sure could use the offense it once received from an artist formerly known as Billy Butler. So let's all ask again the only question that makes any sense at a time like this: What the heck?

Sighs of relief for: Nick Swisher, Chris Davis.

NL Cy Young: Adam Wainwright, Cardinals

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