Apr 2, 2014; Detroit, MI, USA; Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost (3) in the dugout before the game against the Detroit Tigers at Comerica Park. Mandatory Credit: Rick Osentoski-USA TODAY Sports
The Royals were the last team to hit a home run this year, and they still haven’t managed their second yet, but there is something else they will be last to do in 2014 whenever the time comes. Ned Yost has yet to pinch hit for anyone, and this is not surprising based on his history as a manager. He used to love pinch hitting when he began in Milwaukee, but then something changed.
Let’s start all the way at the beginning. Ned took over as skipper of the Brewers in 2003, and his pinch hitting usage looked like this during his time there.
|Year||# Pinch Hitter ABs||NL Rank||AVG|
So in 2003 and 2004 Yost used a lot of pinch hitters. I only compared to NL since the pitcher increases the usage of pinch hitters. In 2005, after the .205 batting average from the pinch hitters the year before, he backed way down from 249 pinch hitter ABs all the way to 216 which was the level he maintained the rest of his tenure in Milwaukee. I don’t know if that low batting average in 2004 turned Ned against pinch hitters or not, but ever since then he has been much more sparing with them and it has carried over to KC where he has been last in the majors in pinch hitter usage in 2011 and 2012 and 28th in 2013 and of course so far hasn’t bothered to use one this year.
The pinch hitter batting averages are bad, but of course that isn’t terribly surprising. Pinch hitters are not starters, so they are not typically great players. Also, if you think of the situation that made me do this, yesterday when Mike Moustakas was left in to face Glen Perkins rather than letting Danny Valencia take a shot, it is typically a tough situation. Had he used a pinch hitter, it would have been to face Glen Perkins who even against right handed hitters over the last three years has allowed a .225/.287/.368 slash line (.213/.268/.270 against lefties). That is a tough spot for a pinch hitter to step into, but it would have been better than sending Moose up who has yet to hit a left hander this year and has never had much success against same handed pitching.
At times, having a power bat on the bench can be useful late in the game. It is one of the reasons I haven’t really had a big problem with the odd 25 man roster including two outfielders and a third baseman on the bench. I will however say if you aren’t going to use Justin Maxwell and Danny Valencia when you obviously should, then I don’t even understand why they are on the team.