KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Perhaps no one is more perplexed about the Royals’ offensive woes than Billy Butler, for years the team’s most consistent and professional hitter.
It’s almost June, and Butler remains stuck on one home run while hitting .240. And Butler isn’t alone among the punchless Royals hitters — the entire team has just 20 homers. (The Royals had 28 at this time last season when Jack Maloof and Andre David were demoted and replaced by George Brett and Pedro Grifol.)
Yet through this offensive misery, Butler insists he sees positives. Just in the last 10 days or so, Butler can recall five or six balls he hammered enough to believe they were home runs.
All of them were caught at the warning track or the wall.
"Absolutely, I thought I had some homers there," Butler told me. "(Mike) Trout robbed me at the wall in Anaheim. And I pulled one down the line in a tie game Sunday that I just missed (barreling) by a centimeter it seemed.
"And I think I had four during that last nine-game homestand I thought were out. I had two that Adam Jones (of Baltimore) got to that I thought were out to center and right-center. Had a couple more toward the bullpen.
"Then Monday night, I thought I hit one out to right, and the wind just happened to be blowing the wrong way that night. It looked like the ball got up there and the wind just cut it, and brought it straight back down. I thought it was two or three rows up, at least. That’s oppo (opposite field), too, for a right-hander. That’s a long way. I hit it as good as I could."
Butler, though, knows what it’s like on the other side, too, when he can get on such a hot streak that every batted ball figures out a way to drop in.
"It seems like everything I hit right now is finding someone," he said. "But when things are going well, even your soft ones find holes. It’s supposed to even out.
"It’s only a matter of time. It’ll happen. We’re all tough-minded. This is what tests your character, and we’re being tested."
On a personal level, Butler thinks he will break out in a big way with a power burst.
"I could see getting 10 or so in a month," he said. "At least five or six."
And if that were to happen, Butler expects some other teammates will get hot along with him.
"We haven’t had two or three or four guys who have gotten hot at the same time," Butler said. "We’ve had individual games where a few guys had big games, but nothing sustained. That’s what we need — just three guys or so to get on a roll.
"Usually, when that happens, everything good starts to happen. You all start hitting. The balls start leaving the park."
And when that happens, Butler sees a team that can get hot like it did during the second half of 2013.
"We know we can get hot," he said. "We did it last year. We had that feeling that somehow, some way, every game would be ours. And it was someone different every night, it seemed, that was helping us win.
"We still have that feeling. We just need a five-game or six-game winning streak to get us going. Then I think you’ll see us take off and win nine of 10 or something like that."
Everyone is waiting.
You can follow Jeffrey Flanagan on Twitter at @jflanagankc or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.