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Game LXXXVIII Thread: Red Sox at Royals

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Ned Yost’s usefulness as Royals manager appears to have come to an end.

Kansas City Royals v Seattle Mariners
#EskyWatch: He’s in centerfield.
Photo by Abbie Parr/Getty Images

Earlier today I graded the Royals’ performance. Among the most damning critiques I gave was of Ned Yost’s handling of the lineup:

I am a firm believer that the manager’s primary job is to keep a team focused and showing up every day. Generally, if you’re not hearing rumblings of discontent from the players the manager is doing his job. Lineup building is overrated at best; it’s like the title to a college essay. It has to fulfill certain functions but beyond that, any extra flare adds very little to it.

That being said, if you wrote a college essay entitled, “Fartmaster69’s Paper to Tell You How to Chug PBR Like the Bestest Champions 5evar” then you might get a failing grade based on it, alone.

Salvador Perez is catching, again. Alcides Escobar is taking a start away from another player, again. My criticisms continue to build.

Hopefully, my argument as to why Salvy needs rest is obvious to you. But perhaps you’re more confused as to why it matters that Alcides Escobar doesn’t get a day off. After all, Rosell Herrera probably isn’t any good. He probably will never be any good.

But he might be.

Alcides Escobar, on the other hand, is definitely not good. He definitely is not getting any better. Rosell Herrera is not far-removed from being a top prospect, is very athletic, and is young enough that he might still turn into a serviceable or even very good major league outfielder. Alcides Escobar is a shortstop on the wrong end of the aging curve who has seen the two things he excelled at - baserunning and defense - decline precipitously over the past few years even as his bat went from “pretty bad” to “worst in baseball” to “historically bad”.

Seriously. Escobar was worth 1.5 wins, according to FanGraphs, in 2015 despite being among the league’s worst hitters because his defense was outstanding and he could still run the bases pretty well. His defense and baserunning fell off a bit in 2016 and he was worth only 0.5 fWAR. In 2017 they fell further and he was worth 0.2 fWAR. This year they fell off a cliff along with whatever little batting skill he still had. He has already been “worth” -1.2 fWAR, this year. And that number is only going to get larger as the season continues.

But he still plays every day even though he has repeatedly had to play out of position, like he will, today, in order to allow Mondesi to finally get some big league reps at his natural position.

The Royals have repeatedly made an effort to save money in their trades since the off-season but still brought Escobar back on a major league deal with massive incentives for plate appearances. And they seem determined to make sure he hits all of those incentives whether it makes any sense for them to do so or not. And considering how much emphasis the team puts on winning it definitely does not make sense to make Escobar the first player since 1953 to play a full season with a wRC+ below 40. At least shortstop Billy Hunter of the St. Louis Browns played a really good defense, that year, as a 25-year-old rookie.

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