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Billy Butler goes 5-for-5, gets removed for pinch-runner

Sep 5, 2013, 6:46 PM EDT

Billy Butler AP

When Billy Butler led off the bottom of the ninth with a single Thursday in a tie game against the Mariners, it gave him his third career five-hit game. It was also the end of his day; the Royals pulled him in favor of Pedro Ciriaco.

The switch didn’t work out — Ciriaco was left stranded at second — but it also didn’t cost the Royals, as they went on to win on a Mike Moustakas homer in the bottom of the 13th.

Had Butler remained in, he would have had a chance to go for the first six-hit day for a Royal since Joe Randa had one in 2004. They’re have been two six-hit games in the majors this season; Jean Segura went 6-for-7 for the Brewers on May 28 and Alex Rios went 6-for-6 for the White Sox on July 9. There hadn’t been a single six-hit game in any of the previous three seasons.

For Butler, it was the 29th time this season that he’s been removed early from a game. It happened less when Jarrod Dyson — manager Ned Yost’s favorite pinch-runner — was on the DL and when he was playing more regularly in the outfield, but now that rosters have expanded, Butler will probably get resume getting pulled for pinch-runners more frequently.

  1. proudlycanadian - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    The Royals won, so no harm no foul. Furthermore, It is a team game and the objective is to win rather than personal glory.

    • frank433 - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:06 PM

      But, but, WAR?!?!?

      • proudlycanadian - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:26 PM

        I prefer peace rather than war.

      • jcmeyer10 - Sep 5, 2013 at 10:18 PM

        WAR, what is good for?…

    • The Rabbit - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:16 PM

      Hey PC, Hope all is well.
      Yep, it’s a team game and luckily for the Royals, Moose hit a HR in the bottom of the 13th.
      The bigger issue is not Butler’s stats in any particular game.
      It’s more that Yost is willing to remove a guy who may be the day’s hottest hitter and has the ability to win the game on one swing on a fairly regular basis.
      It’s not much different than taking Edwin Encarnacion out of of game for a defensive replacement before the Jays have a lead.
      I wouldn’t want Edwin’s bat out of the lineup and I wouldn’t want Butler’s, either.

      • proudlycanadian - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:24 PM

        Nice to hear from you. Hope you traveled to interesting places in the summer.I am quite well and am having fun. My objection to Matthew’s comment was that he was focusing on individual achievement. Butler is a slow runner. If the pinch runner had scored, nobody would have complained and Butler would not have had a chance to go 6 for 6 in that event.

      • Matthew Pouliot - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:33 PM

        I wasn’t criticizing, just thought it was interesting.

        I do think Yost has overdone it when it comes to pinch-running for Butler, but today’s was OK — no outs, one run needed to win, a legitimately speedy basestealer-type available to replace him. I might have been critical had the move come with one or two outs instead.

      • The Rabbit - Sep 5, 2013 at 9:32 PM

        I’m very glad to hear things are going well, PC.
        The summer was interesting. As you know, our league is comprised of some of the long time HBT readers/commenters. Some of us traveled to Baltimore/Philly this year to see games. Even cur made it past the US Border Patrol. E-mail me if you want to see the pics.
        Like Matthew, I didn’t think it was a terrible move this game, either, but if you follow the Royals on a regular basis (I live in Royals/Cardinals “territory”.) you’d find that Yost isn’t much of a situational thinker. There is a reason the word “Yosted” has entered the vocabulary of some Royals fans.
        I wasn’t focused on Butler’s potential individual achievement or today’s game at all in Matthew’s comments.
        I focused on the willingness to take Butler out on a regular basis something I had already noticed (Didn’t realize it was the 29th time.) It’s been known to happen at times when you just shake your head.
        So, we aren’t disagreeing. We’re just talking about two different things.

  2. wheels579 - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:30 PM

    Yost is trying to win a game in a pennant race, Matthew. Butler would not have even had a chance for a fifth hit without Holland’s blown save. Yost doesn’t deserve veiled criticism here.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:35 PM

      I don’t veil criticism of Ned Yost. Trust me, you’ll know it when I’m criticizing Ned Yost.

  3. wheels579 - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:40 PM

    And for the other guy worried about losing Butler’s bat, once you reach the ninth inning Butler’s next swing in that game is either 2-3 innings later or never. Butler’s lead feet are the issue and Ciriaco did steal second in that inning despite getting stranded. Yost wouldn’t be doing his job had he left Butler in and if he had, he’d get criticized for that as well. Right move, and it nearly paid off.

    • nbjays - Sep 6, 2013 at 8:04 AM

      I’d put money on Butler to win a footrace against Jose Molina… but not too much money.

  4. newyorkshets - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:50 PM

    Good ol Kansas City Royals!

  5. wheels579 - Sep 5, 2013 at 7:52 PM

    You could have at least mentioned the blown save so Yost isn’t painted as The Grinch Who Stole Christmas. You weren’t as fair to Yost as you could have been. I’m no Royals fan or Yost fan but managers rarely get any benefit of the doubt in such cases.

  6. royalsin2013 - Sep 5, 2013 at 8:38 PM

    I know that the author set up the situation in the first sentence, “Billy Butler led off the bottom of the ninth with a single Thursday in a tie game,” so I think that maybe people are glossing over that first sentence and not realizing the situation. With a runner on first and zero outs, I’m thinking that there’s a very good chance that Butler will never have to bat again even if he stays in, and there’s an even better chance that he won’t be needed again when a pinch runner increases their chances of scoring a run. So I like the move. And I’m not a Yost fan. If I was given the authority to make personnel decisions for the Royals, I would fire him without even giving him a chance to explain himself. It exasperates me to see Getz or Escobar at or near the top of the lineup. I just can’t understand what he’s thinking. Does he really know that little about these new fangled stats like on base percentage?

    I tried to find a stat to back up my argument, but I’m new to advanced stats. I found the run expectancy tables, but realize that the .83 runs the Royals are expected to score is not what I’m looking for, because that number is inflated by multiple run innings that can only occur here in the case of a walk-off homer. Is there a stat that would give me the percentage of time that the Royals would score at least one run here? Thanks.

    • Matthew Pouliot - Sep 5, 2013 at 10:41 PM

      Right. Here’s a bit out-of-date one that shows what you’re looking for. As of 2010, teams scored 44 percent of the time after getting a runner on first with none out.

      http://www.tangotiger.net/re24.html

      • royalsin2013 - Sep 5, 2013 at 11:20 PM

        Thank you. Exactly what I was looking for. I have it bookmarked now.

  7. nategearhart - Sep 5, 2013 at 10:47 PM

    Matt, The beloved Joe Randa picked up 6 hits in a game for the Royals in 2004:
    http://mlb.mlb.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20040910&content_id=853655&vkey=news_mlb&fext=.jsp&c_id=null

    • Matthew Pouliot - Sep 6, 2013 at 12:08 AM

      Well, I’ll be. Skipped right over that one. Thanks!

  8. someguyinva - Sep 6, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    I once saw Steve Nicosia go 4-for-4 and get removed for a pinch-HITTER, but that worked out okay – http://www.baseball-reference.com/boxes/PIT/PIT197908051.shtml

  9. dexterismyhero - Sep 6, 2013 at 10:08 AM

    Why would they bring in Pedro Cerrano to pinch run? I thought he was a home run guy.

  10. jsc1973 - Sep 6, 2013 at 11:33 PM

    Billy Butler can hit with his eyes closed, but he’d finish third in a footrace with a pregnant woman. The Royals were trying to score a run and win the game, and Pedro Ciriaco has a much better chance of doing that than Butler does. The Red Sox pinch-run for Big Papi in situations like this, and even he’s not as slow as Butler.

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