by John Viril—
Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost spent most of Wednesday attacking sabermetric wisdom.
First he insisted to Fox Sports reporter Jeffrey Flanagan that SS Alcides Escobar was the ideal no. 2 hitter and batted him in that position for the 2nd straight night. Yost’s likes Escobar in the the no. 2 spot because he wants to bunt more from that position. Yost said that he passed on bunting situations with Eric Hosmer hitting second that he would order with Escobar at no. 2.—including a first inning situation the other night.
Great. Yost wants to bunt more in the first inning.
Then came the actual game against Atlanta. Clinging to a 3-1 lead in the top of the 7th inning, Yost brought Luke Hochevar in to relieve Bruce Chen with the bases loaded and two outs. You know, the Luke Hochevar THAT IS THE WORST PITCHER IN BASEBALL AT PREVENTING BASE RUNNERS FROM SCORING.
That little fun fact isn’t from a few months of performance, or from a single season. That statistic comes from comparing Hochevar’s performance over the entire span of his 6-year career to every other pitcher who has pitched significant innings during that time.
Granted, Hochevar came into the game preventing 8 out of 11 inherited base runners from scoring this season. But, can I say it yet again, THAT’S A SHORT SAMPLE SIZE. When your team has lost 4 of its last 5 games and is in danger of sliding into another losing streak, you do not bring in the WORST PITCHER IN BASEBALL at preventing base runners from scoring to pitch with the bases loaded—UNLESS YOU HAVE NO OTHER OPTIONS.
Yost used Aaron Crow later in the game and he also had J.C.Gutierrez as other right-handed options—if he insist upon conventional bullpen use (more about that later). Yost also had the experience of bringing in Hochevar to pitch in a similar situation earlier this season against Toronto April 13. Hoch allowed both inherited runners to score.
Predictably, Hochevar gave up a sharp single to Justin Upton to tie the game at 3 all. Hochevar was spared further opportunity to melt down with runners on base by CF Lorenzo Cain gunning down Jason Heyward attempting to advance to 3rd—ending the inning. While I do not expect a baseball manager to understand the Theory of Relativity, I do expect him to know and apply Einstein’s definition of insanity. Instead, Yost keeps doing the same thing over and over, and expecting different results.
I guess Yost’s motto must be: if you once get your brains beat in, try try again.
Here, too, we see another manifestation of Yost’s drone-like adherence to conventional baseball wisdom. You are up 3-1 in the 7th. This is likely the stickiest mess your relief staff will face the rest of the game (sabermetric types call them “high-leverage situations). WHY NOT USE YOUR BEST RELIEF PITCHER TO GET YOU OUT OF THE JAM?
Yeah, Greg Holland is your closer. Yeah, Greg Holland won’t get a save. But, using Greg Holland would give you the best chance of getting a critical out—and winning the game. And, isn’t giving your team its best chance to win what being a manager is about? I guess in Ned Yost’s world it’s more important to help the right players compile the right statistics.
Despite all of the above buffoonery, the Royals ended up with a 4-3 victory due to LF Alex Gordon’s “Alpha and Omega Act”. Gordon led off the game with a home run, and ended it with a walk-off RBI single in the 1oth.
Sometimes, teams win in spite of their manager.