July proved quite the coming-out party for Billy Butler, with most of his fun coming with runners on base. The Royals rookie exhibited good poise at the plate, driving in 24 runs during the month to lead all rookies and tie him for seventh in the Majors with Alex Rodriguez. "Guys like [Butler] basically take the same approach, whether there is a guy on or there is a guy in scoring position," manager Buddy Bell said. "All the good RBI guys seem to approach their at-bats the same way as Billy. There is no difference."
Except that Butler is younger than most of them. The 21-year-old picked up the American League Rookie of the Month for July after batting .341 with nine multi-hit games. Also receiving votes for the award were Texas' Kasson Gabbard, Chicago's Josh Fields, Tampa Bay's Delmon Young, Toronto's Jesse Litsch , and Boston's Hideki Okajima. Butler did plenty to set himself apart. He had just six RBIs coming into July, but doubled the total in one game against the Mariners on July 3, going 3-for-5 and also scoring four runs. He's batting .305 for the season, with four home runs and 30 RBIs. "I get a pitch, I am not missing it right now," Butler said after going 4-for-5 against Detroit, with four RBIs. "If I miss that one pitch, then I might not get another one." Butler was called up for the second time this season on June 19 to replace injured designated hitter Mike Sweeney. Since then, Butler has been tried out at a variety of positions, including outfield and first base. But most agree his value rests in his bat, and he proved its worth last month. Count hitting coach Mike Barnett as one who's been appreciative. "He hits the ball where it's pitched, he drives it on the line and he doesn't try to loft it out of the park," Barnett said. "He gets a good quality BP every day. He's really focused, and basically, that's what he does in the game." "He's got this innate understanding of hitting, which is rare, very rare."
Stephen Fastenau is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.