Kansas City Royals: Ned Yost’s Decision Making On Opening Day


Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost (left) takes the ball to relieve relief pitcher Wade Davis (17) Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports

On Monday the Kansas City Royals lost to the Detroit Tigers 4-3 on a walk off single.  This being the first game of the year it was given extra scrutiny.  The majority of people seem to think that this loss falls squarely on the shoulders of manager Ned Yost.

There are some people that feel that the best managers tend to manage games through bunting, stealing, and hit and run plays.  The lineup has a speed guy leading off with a strong contact hitter batting 2nd.  The closer should be used to start off the 9th inning in Save situations.

Typically these people also feel that the best resume for a manager is to have played at the MLB level.  Being a former catcher is a bonus since they know how to handle pitchers and everyday players equally as well.

On the flip side of that are people that feel that the best manager is the one that doesn’t hinder the player’s chances to win the game by giving away outs.  Doing things like bunting and stealing are seen as giving away outs.

The lineup should be based around OBP and OPS.  The best reliever should be used in the highest leverage situations instead regardless of innings.  The best managers are the ones that can recognize the best time for these doing these things based upon statistical success rates.

I consider myself to be in the 2nd group.  It’s fairly obvious that Ned Yost is in the 1st group.  I believe that he is not the best manager in baseball but he’s not that worst.  At some point we will see a manager that is in that 2nd group be successful.

Right now there isn’t anyone out there like that.  Comparing Ned Yost to this mythical manager isn’t really fair.  It’s comparing a horse to a unicorn.  It isn’t however, too much to ask for Yost to refrain from being insane and doing things like bunting in the 3rd inning.

Monday’s game was not riddled with poor tactical decisions by Yost.  There were no bunts or attempts at stealing a base needlessly.  There was definitely a chance to have Cain steal 2nd in the 4th inning.  If caught it would have ended the rally.

There were 2 decisions that seem to be the main focus.  The first, leaving James Shields in to start the 7th inning after throwing 95 pitches.  There’s nothing wrong with having Shields start that inning.  He was pulled after 3 batters which sounds about right.  Unfortunately, after getting the first batter to fly out, he gave up a Triple and a Walk before being pulled out.

In hindsight letting him start that inning caused the Royals to lose their 2 run lead after Aaron Crow let both inherited runs scored.  No matter how good a manager is he can’t predict the future, he can only put his team in the best position to perform to get a win.

The Royals had one of the best bullpens in the last 30 years last season.  Due to small sample sizes and a revolving door of players bullpens are volatile.  Both from season to season and game to game.  Crow is as good as anybody else to come in against 2 righties to get through the inning.

The other thing Yost was criticized for was leaving in Wade Davis for the 9th inning after facing 4 batters and using 14 pitches in the 8th.  This is less defensible than leaving Shields in.

I can only think of 2 reasons that Yost would do this.  First, the Kansas City Royals went into the season with a 6 man bullpen instead of the normal 7.  No doubt this made him somewhat worried about having enough relievers to get through to the next off day.  Of course the next off day was on Tuesday and it being the first game of the year the entire bullpen should have been available with no repercussions to Wednesday’s game.

The other reason would be that he was more confident in Davis going than anyone else because he used to be a starter.  It makes sense to think this way.  If the game is going into extra innings, having relievers take more than 1 inning is generally a good idea.  The only issue with it is that Davis was the worst of all the pitchers contending for a starting role.

I can live with him starting the 9th inning.  With such a small margin for error I would liked to see Davis get pulled for Greg Holland, who was already warmed up, after walking the 2nd batter he faced.

Then again allowing 1 base runner is not a sign of a pitcher losing his control.  Even really good pitchers are going to give up an average of 1 base runner per inning.  Overall the reasoning looks sound, it was the execution that lacked.

I know that we are all ready to get this season into gear.  Ready to see games every day and take Yost to task for making boneheaded decisions.  Be patient, we’ll get there.  Let’s hope when the time comes that the players can make up for those decisions.

Maybe, just maybe, Yost has turned over a new leaf and we’ll be complaining about relatively small mistakes.