September was a difficult month for the Kansas City Royals. After running roughshod over the American League through much of the 2015 season, the Royals sputtered in September, posting an 11-17 record while never winning more than two games in a row during the month. The best record in the division, which the Royals had owned since Opening Day, had slipped away.
Meanwhile, the Royals pitching staff, which was expected to be a strength heading into the postseason, had been in shambles. Johnny Cueto, who was supposed to be the ace the Royals needed, had looked like anything but that. Greg Holland was lost for the season, as he needs Tommy John Surgery. The fifth starter spot has been in flux, with Danny Duffy losing his place in the rotation, Jeremy Guthrie having a disastrous start, and Chris Young taking the ball this past weekend. The Royals do not look like the same team from even a month ago.
If ever there was a time for panic to set in, it would be now. Indeed, countless words have been typed by fans, bloggers and experts alike, all wondering what is wrong with the Royals. Yet, during these struggles, there has been one pillar of calmness and consistency, manager Ned Yost.
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It is that calmness and consistency which may be Yost’s greatest trait. Even though he has been criticized for staying with certainly players for far too long, like Chris Getz and even Mike Moustakas, Yost believes in his players and what they can accomplish. Instead of worrying about the day to day, Yost has focused on the bigger picture – developing a consistent winner. As Bruce Schoenfeld of the New York Times wrote, that belief in his team could help make the Kansas City Royals an unstoppable force come the postseason.
That calmness and confidence in his players, which has often been looked upon as Yost simply coddling those who do not deserve it. Yet, it is hard to argue with the results over the past three seasons. In that time, the Royals have won more games than any other team in the American League, a feat that some would say was accomplished in spite of Yost as a manager.
In this case, doing nothing, which is something that Yost has been accused of to a great extend, has been doing something. It has instilled a confidence in the Royals that, no matter how bad they may be playing at the time, they will get better. Each game is taken with that long term goal of getting back to the World Series, and bringing home the title, in mind.
Ned Yost, even in the postseason last year, was still considered the village idiot, a holdover to a time when gut feelings mattered far more than statistical analysis. Yost was a laughable manager, one who may have been considered to be one of the worst in the game. Now, Yost and the Kansas City Royals may have the last laugh. All they have to do is stay the course.