The Fall Guy
I understand why Kevin Seitzer will no longer be the team’s hitting coach, and really, I’m okay with it. He was unable to help Eric Hosmer battle his way out of a season long slump and he couldn’t right Mike Moustakas when the third baseman started slumping in early June. Their regression, more than anything, is likely what cost Seitzer his job. They are expected to be offensive cornerstones for the next half decade so 4-6 month slumps are simply unacceptable. Whether it’s deserved it or not the hitting coach will almost always shoulder the blame when young stars under perform.
At the same though, there is something that bothers me about his removal. The Royals finished 12th in the American League in runs scored and that cannot be laid solely at the feet of Seitzer. Ned Yost and Dayton Moore each made contributions that hampered the offense so they deserve an equal share of the blame.
“A walk, a base-hit and boom — there’s three runs. I think that’s the major difference in philosophy.” -Ned Yost
I’m sorry but when has this ever been Ned Yost’s philosophy? I am happy that he decided to channel his inner Earl Weaver mostly because I never suspected he possessed an inner Earl Weaver. And why would I? A single, a stolen base, a sacrifice bunt, a
Aug 29, 2012; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals third baseman Mike Moustakas (8) is congratulated by hitting coach Kevin Seitzer (left) designated hitter Billy Butler (center) and manager Ned Yost (right) after scoring against the Detroit Tigers in the fourth inning at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE
sacrifice fly and boom – there’s one run is more to Yost’s tastes than a three run home run. We watched it play out all year. Nearly half of the team’s sacrifice bunts this year occurred in the first three innings. Eager to score first Yost would play for one run and often would do so with a runner already in scoring position. Couple this with an insanely aggressive base running style that led to too many free outs and you start to see why runs were hard to come by.
The quote above is basically an admission that high on-base and slugging percentages will lead to more runs. Except we know those aren’t the stats the organization values. On more than one occasion a member of the coaching staff or front office expressed amazement that the offense was struggling given the team’s high batting average (.265, 4th best in the AL). Basically this is the part that bothers me about Seitzer’s ouster. If batting average is the money stat, and the team has a high average, then why let the hitting coach go?
“We have to understand the importance of on-base percentage.” —Dayton Moore, October 2008.
Four years later we are still waiting on Moore to understand – not only the importance of on-base percentage – but also how it correlates with runs scored. A quick look at some players he acquired via trade or free agency since uttering this quote shows a distinct lack of understanding. Off to the side are their career on-base percentages at the time of acquisition.
Mike Jacobs – .318
Willie Bloomquist – .322
Coco Crisp – .331
Yuniesky Betancourt – .302
Rick Ankiel – .316
Scott Podsednik – .340
Melky Cabrera – .328
Jeff Francoeur – .310
Yuniesky Betancourt – .292
Humberto Quintero – .268
To be fair, a couple of those moves paid off (Podsednik and Cabrera) but the rest were complete failures. How many general managers in the game today would have let Francoeur and his 81 OPS+ block Wil Myers all year? How many would have allowed Betancourt to come to the plate over 200 times? How many would have carried both those players on their roster? The answer to all three questions is, of course, just one. Dayton Moore.
Kevin Seitzer was the fall guy but – and I can’t stress this enough – he shouldn’t have fell alone.