Ned Yost has lost over 1,000 games as a manager in his career. He has also won 500 games with the Royals, more than anyone else in franchise history. He has won two pennants, an All-Star Game, and a World Championship. For the first time in his career, he is leading a team trying to repeat as champions. Thus far, the Royals have been a very mixed bag.
The team got off to a hot start, winning 12 of their first 18. They then dropped 12 of their next 16, averaging just 3.2 runs per game over that time. The team caught fire again, winning 14 out of 18. They followed that up with an eight game losing streak, their worst streak since 2013.
Yost has certainly had to deal with circumstances beyond his control. His All-Star third baseman Mike Moustakas missed two weeks with a thumb injury. A collision between Moustakas and All-Star left-fielder Alex Gordon cost the Royals two players - Gordon is out several weeks with a wrist injury, while Moustakas will miss the remainder of the season with a knee injury.
The Royals have also gotten shaky performances from the pitching rotation, with Kris Medlen on the disabled list after a shaky performance, and Chris Young missing time with a forearm injury after setting a pace that would have set a record for home runs allowed. The team has also gotten a disastrous performance from last year's Silver Slugger-winning designated hitter Kendrys Morales.
On the plus side, first baseman Eric Hosmer is having a career year, and catcher Salvador Perez is enjoying one of his best offensive seasons. Ned has done a better job protecting his prized asset with rest. Perez is on pace to start at catcher in just 126 games, which would be the lowest total of his career since he became a full-time starter. The Royals have also been able to integrate rookies like Whit Merrifield, Cheslor Cuthbert, and Brett Eibner into the lineup with varying success thus far, and he has appeared to have finally benched slumping veteran Omar Infante.
The bullpen has not been quite as dominant as in year's past, but they are second in all of baseball in bullpen ERA. Yost has been criticized for sticking with reliever Joakim Soria in critical innings, but Soria has pitched much better lately, with a 1.80 ERA over his last 19 outings.
Ned's lineups continue to garner criticism, for featuring Alcides Escobar and his low on-base percentage in the leadoff spot. The Royals have the lowest OPS in the American League out of the leadoff spot in the lineup. Yost recently bumped Escobar to the #2 spot in the lineup. The Royals are currently second-to-last in the AL in runs scored.
Ned backed up his feisty starter Yordano Ventura after he was ejected following a brawl when he was alleged to have intentionally hit Orioles infielder Manny Machado. He has kept a calm hand despite some losing streaks, avoiding panicking over short-term failures.
Overall, the Royals are very much in the race for the division title despite some worrying red flags and devastating injuries. However, the team is certainly not as successful as it has been, and some of Ned Yost's gambles that worked in the past are falling flat this season. Do you approve of the job Ned Yost is doing?