There have been a great many words used to describe Ned Yost over the years, most of which have not exactly been complimentary. In fact, as recently as last season, during the Kansas City Royals matchup against the Baltimore Orioles in the American League Championship Series, Yost was referred to as the “dunce” going against Buck Showalter, who the Wall Street Journal dubbed the “Chess Master.” The phrase ‘Yosted’ had a truly negative connotation, indicating a move that would snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.
It is amazing how quickly perceptions can change. In the wake of last season’s playoff run, and the Royals march to the best record in the American League, Yost is not longer viewed as a complete hindrance to the team. His decisions, even if they do not appear to make much sense at first, have generally proven to be correct this season. Who can truly explain the Royals success with Alcides Escobar leading off, or Mike Moustakas batting second?
Even though Yost is no longer considered to be the village idiot, he is not necessarily considered by many to be one of the top managerial minds in the game. Yet, if one considers replay success, and the timing of a manager’s challenges to be an important metric in that determination, it turns out that Yost is, indeed, one of the top managers in baseball.
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Despite being around the middle of the pack with 21 successful challenges, Ned Yost timed his challenges quite well. According to Fangraphs, Yost had the highest leverage of his challenges, far outpacing the next closest manager, Bryan Price. Overall, Yost was considered to be 36% better than the average manager when it came to the usage, and success, of his challenges, ranking behind Joe Maddon and Clint Hurdle. As for the “Chess Master?” Well, Buck Showalter was considered to be 22% worse than the average manager.
Could it be that Yost is actually a better manager than anyone would have thought? His calm demeanor, and ability to create a patient, relaxed atmosphere in the clubhouse have been key parts of the Royals success over the past three years. Instead of being considered as coddling the younger players, Yost is now a nurturer, someone capable of getting the most out of what he has while developing those players at the major league level. Add in his ability to figure out the best time to use his challenges, and Yost may be one of the more underrated managers in baseball.
By at least one metric, Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost is one of the best field generals in baseball. How’s that for being Yosted?