It has been said that the general manager builds the team for the regular season while its the manager that shapes the team in the post-season. If that's the case, Dayton has done his job this year, and it will soon be time for Ned Yost to take the stage and lead the Royals to a championship. Ned does deserve some credit for piloting this team to the best record in the league, just a few weeks from clinching the first Central Division title in franchise history. But his performance has raised a few doubts.
Ned deserves a ton of credit for helping to turn the career around for Mike Moustakas. Putting him in the #2 hole to start the year drew a ton of criticism, especially here, but it turned out to be a terrific move. Overall, Ned's lineups have led to a dramatically improved offense, currently fifth in the league in runs scored. The team has accordingly played less small ball, instead relying on more home runs and clutch hitting from the middle of the lineup.
Ned has received criticism for staying with starters Alex Rios and Omar Infante too long, but it appears Infante is out of the lineup for good now, and Rios' playing time may be limited. Ned has also been criticized for leaving Alcides Escobar and his low on-base percentage in the leadoff spot all year, but recently he moved Ben Zobrist and Alex Gordon in the top two spots in the batting order, citing their on-base percentage.
The bullpen has been the best in baseball this year, and while Dayton Moore deserves a ton of credit for building such a deep pen, Ned Yost deserves some credit for pressing the right buttons and not overworking his best horses. He has stuck with closer Greg Holland despite evidence he is not the All-Star close he once was. Yost earned some heat for sticking with starter Jeremy Guthrie too long, but eventually he turned things over to more qualified pitchers.
The team overcame confrontations with numerous clubs this year including the Angels, Athletics, White Sox, and Blue Jays. They overcame the adversity of missing their best player, Alex Gordon, for six weeks with a groin injury, using Paulo Orlando and Jarrod Dyson. Ned has given his regulars a lot of rest in September, although some fear it may come at the expense of losing home field advantage.
As a tactician, Ned Yost has challenged 26 calls this year, and had 16 of them overturned (and some that weren't overturned, should have been). The Royals are tied for sixth in the league in sacrifice hits with 27, just barely above the league average. The Royals have the second-most stolen base attempts with 120, and the second-highest success rate at 77.5%.
As we head into October when every managerial move will be scrutinized, how much confidence do you have in Ned Yost? It seemed most of the buttons he pushed last post-season worked, will the same magic work again? Do you approve of the job Ned Yost is doing? You can see our previous poll results for April (93% approval) and June (73%) approval.