So a few weeks ago, I saw some words that I never thought I would see. I mean, together in the same place ...
Yost sets Royals lineup based on data analysis
Yost? Royals? ANALYSIS?
Yes to all three. From the accompanying article:
In his never-ending search for runs, Royals manager Ned Yost sought help from the numbers analysts in the front office.
"I had our statistical guys make up an optimum lineup for us by the way we're going against right- and left-handed pitching to take any advantage of it," Yost said.
If you were paying close attention when you read that, a mildly annoying alarm bell might have gone off. When Yost says the way we're going, doesn't that sound like he's making lineup decisions based on two months of platoon data? Which wouldn't make whole lot of sense? Still, going on two months of data is better than no data at all, which is what Yost usually does.
Anyway, that was a few weeks ago and the most dramatic change was that Alcides Escobar, who'd been the Royals' No. 2 hitter all season, became the Royals' No. 9 hitter. Which, considering his .276 on-base percentage, made an uncommon (for the Royals) amount of sense. The only other significant change was Eric Hosmer replacing Escobar in the No. 2 slot.
This didn't exactly "work." You don't turn a terrible lineup into a good lineup by monkeying around with the batting order. Which isn't a good reason for doing, after just three weeks, what Ned Yost has done ....
Escobar's back near the top of the lineup. Actually, Sunday he actually batted leadoff. Monday, though, he was back in the No. 2 slot. Again, after three weeks. Yost's reasoning? You're going to love this, really you are:
SS Alcides Escobar back in second spot for #Royals because that where manager Ned Yost thinks he fits best.— Bob Dutton (@Royals_Report) June 25, 2013
I'm pretty sure that's a direct quote.
/ Ned, can you talk about putting Escobar back in the 2 hole?
/ Well, I just thought that where he fits best.
Do I sound bitter? I'm not, really. It's reached the point where you begin to hope the manager does stupid things, so he'll get fired that much faster. But here's why this sort of matters...
Alcides Escobar is a really terrible hitter. He wasn't supposed to be this terrible; he showed some hitting potential in the minor leagues. But it just hasn't worked out for him. He's not the worst hitter in the lineup, because somehow Mike Moustakas is worse. But in a perfect world, Alcides Escobar would be the Royals' worst hitter; if Escobar's better than Moustakas (he is, this season anyway), the Royals have bigger problems than who's batting second (they do).
Every spot in the batting order is worth 18 plate appearances. If you bat Alcides Escobar first rather than ninth for a whole season, you're giving your (ideally) worst hitter 126 more plate appearances than he deserves. Considering Escobar's .303 career on-base percentage, Ned Yost might not even consider batting Escobar leadoff ... but that's almost exactly what he's doing. He's almost giving his very worst hitter more at-bats, more chances to make outs, than anybody else on the entire team.
Yost is not the first, and he won't be the last. But that don't make it right. And so the never-ending search for runs shall continue, perhaps for as long as we still roam the earth.
For more about the Royals and their kooky krazy lineups, please visit SB Nation's Royals Review.