Dodgers 2014 profile: Drew Butera

A typical Drew Butera at bat - Tom Szczerbowski

Drew Butera looks to cement his place in history with the Dodgers.

As the 2013 trade deadline wound down Dodger fans waited for the team to make its inevitable move. Sure, Ricky Nolasco had come to the team a month earlier and Brian Wilson had been pulled from whatever random hostel he was staying in, but Ned Colletti had never gone completely silent on July 31. Shortly after the 1 p.m. PT deadline passed word came of a last minute move with the Twins. Minnesota closer Glen Perkins seemed like the most likely acquisition, or maybe Ryan Doumit was coming to give the Dodgers a threat off the bench. A few minutes later the Dodgers shocked the world by revealing they acquired Drew Butera.1

Butera broke into the league in 2010 with everything you could want in a catcher: fantastic defense, a great arm, and pitchers loved to throw to him. In fact, Butera has only one real flaw: he's one of the worst hitters to ever grace the big leagues.

There's no arguing who the worst hitter of all time is. From 1901 to 1911 Bill Bergan caught for the Reds and the Dodgers and in 3,228 plate appearances he put up a .170/.194/.201 line.2 Number two is clear as well. John Vukovich was one of the scrappiest players of the 1970s and over 10 years in a reserve role he got 600 plate appearances where he hit .161/.203/.222 before settling into a long coaching career. Bergen and Vukovich aside, Drew Butera may be the worst hitting position player in MLB history.

Here's how Butera stacks up with every position player with at least 500 plate appearances since 1901:3

  • Batting average: .181 (6th worst)
  • On base percentage: .229 (5th worst)
  • Slugging percentage: .262 (58th worst)
  • OPS: .491 (9th worst)
  • OPS+: 36 (3rd worst)

Despite Butera's historic lack of contact, discipline, and power, he does fill a niche on the Dodgers thanks to their abysmal catching depth. Butera is the only guy in the organization that you can trust to handle a big league pitching staff outside of the incumbents A.J. Ellis and Tim Federowicz. This isn't a big deal on it's own, but it is something everyone will notice if Ellis and Federowicz go down,the pitching staff is left in the hands of Miguel Olivo, and the Dodger rotation revolts. I would rather see any of the assorted backup catchers around the league that would take a minor league assignment instead of Butera4, but now that he's here, he's what we got.

Trivia

Hanging on in the big leagues as a light hitting backup catcher is a Butera family tradition. His father Sal had a nine year run as a backup catcher with a .597 OPS.

Butera was the big piece in the trade that sent Luis Castillo to the Mets. In his career, Butera has reached base 39 more times than Castillo did in two months with the 2007 Mets.

Contract status

Butera is signed to a one year, $700,000 deal that is contingent on him making the team. He will be arbitration eligible next year.

Stats

Year Age PA 2B HR BA/OBP/SLG wOBA
2011
27 295 12 4 .204/.264/.293 .249
2012 28 179 9 2 .191/.258/.284 .245
2013 29 10 0 0 .100/.100/.100 .089
2014 projections - Age 34 season
Source PA 2B HR BA/OBP/SLG wOBA
Oliver 600 21 6 .181/.234/.256 .223
PECOTA 250 10 3 .202/.247/.291 .265
Steamer 33 1 0 .200/.251/.292 .243
ZiPS 187 8 2 .214/.250/.306 .243

2014 outlook

Butera being out of options and the Dodgers miserable catching depth give him a strong shot at the backup job out of Spring Training. I will grudgingly accept this, but probably make fun of him a lot.5

1. We were later surprised to learn that the Dodgers dealt Miguel Sulbaran, a prospect people have actually heard of instead of everyone’s favorite prospect, Cash Considerations

2. This makes him the brother that brought the least amount of shame to the Bergen family

3. Numbers provided by Baseball-Reference's Play Index

4. Where have you gone, Koyie Hill?

5. More like Boo Butera, Drew Buttera, Drew But "Lowers the Opposing Pitcher's" era, and so forth.

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