All-Time Indians: Brett Butler

Name: Brett Morgan Butler     Position: Center Field      
Tribe Time: 1984-1987           Number: 2        
            DOB: 06/15/1957      
Stats G AB R H 2B 3B HR RBI BB SO SB CS SB% OBP SLG AVG OPS
Best Season (1985) 152 591 106 184 28 14 5 50 63 42 47 20 70% .377 .431 .311 .808
Career 609 2302 397 663 95 45 21 191 310 224 164 73 69% .373 .396 .288 .769

The Indians made one of their best trades in decades in August of 1983 when they sent former staff ace Len Barker to Atlanta for three players-to-be-named-later. While Barker only threw about 280 more innings in his career, two of the PTBNL's the Indians acquired became starters and one was an extremely talented center fielder named Brett Butler.

Butler was a three year veteran, but had just become the starting left fielder the year before. With the Indians, he was immediately made the starting center fielder, a hole that was created when Rick Manning was traded to Milwaukee. Butler excelled in the role and became a top offensive producer in 1984, stealing 52 bases in 159 games. The next season, his fellow PTBNL, Brook Jacoby, came into his own as well and the two combined to rejuvenate an offense that had been dead for decades. Butler stole another 47 bases and scored more than 100 times while Jacoby knocked in 87.

The team was set to compete in 1986 and Butler took a starring role as the lead-off hitter and center fielder. An amazing season by Joe Carter and another great year from Butler lead the Indians to 84 wins, their highest total since 1968. Butler lead the league in triples (14) and stole 32 more bases. While they didn't reach they play-offs, they looked poised to for the first time since 1954 within the next few seasons. While this didn't happen, it certainly wasn't Butler's fault as he stole another 32 bases while continuing to be the perfect lead-off hitter and center fielder. Of course, with the team falling so far below expectations, it was time to rebuild again and Butler was allowed to test free agency, where he signed with Giants.

Even though he spent just four seasons with the Indians, he still had one of the best careers ever by an Indians center fielder. Each season he was with the team he stole at least 32 bases, giving him the eighth most career steals in Indians history. With 558 combined between all his teams, he ranks 25th in MLB history as well. He scored at least 90 runs each season as well. In addition to his prowess on the base paths, he was a historically great defender as well. Among Indians, he has the least amount of errors for any center fielder with at least 400 games played at the position and is virtually tied with Grady Sizemore for first in fielding percent.

After leaving the Indians, Butler finally got the recognition he deserved, especially for his 1991 season when he lead the NL in games, runs, walks and was named to the All-Star team. From 1988 through 1994, he received MVP votes every season except 1993. After playing for the Giants, Butler played for the Dodgers and Mets before retiring after the 1997 season.

In 2005, Butler starter coaching professionally, joining the Arizona Diamondbacks. He advanced through their system as a minor league manager, going from A (2006), to AA (2007), to AAA (2008) in three straight years. He stayed in AAA Reno through 2012, before leaving to join Miami, where he is currently the third base coach for Marlins. 

About Joseph Coblitz

Joseph is the primary writer and editor of BurningRiverBaseball.com and has been since it's inception in 2011. He is a graduate of the University of Akron and currently resides in Goodyear, Arizona.

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