It seems strange to think of Ned Yost as a World Series winning manager, much less one that has brought the Kansas City Royals to consecutive championship appearances. After all, it was not that long ago when people were calling for Yost’s head, including when he summoned Yordano Ventura during the 2014 Wild Card Game. The 2014 ALCS matchup between the Orioles and the Royals was touted as a meeting between a chess master in Buck Showalter matching up against the dunce that was Yost.
Funny how quickly perceptions, and reputations, can change. Now, with a title on his resume, Yost has joined Dick Howser as the only managers to bring a championship to Kansas City. He is also the only manager to bring the Royals to more than one World Series, and is the winningest manager in team history. Chances are, whenever Yost decides it is time to exit the dugout one last time, his number will be retired by the Royals.
With these accolades, it may be fair to wonder if Yost is the best manager in Royals history. When last we ranked the Royals managers, halfway through this past season, Yost was ranked as the third best, behind Whitey Herzog and Howser. Perhaps that ranking was a bit aggressive, considering that the term ‘Yosted’ was still a pejorative, yet he certainly rated among the best managers in team history.
Now, that third place ranking may be a bit low. While Herzog did lay the groundwork for the Royals Golden Age during the mid 1970’s through the mid 1980’s, and Howser had skippered the Royals to their first World Series title, Yost may have passed both. In fact, it may be that Ned Yost is now the best manager in the history of the Kansas City Royals.
Yes, Yost will still make his fair share of head scratching decisions. And yes, he may occasionally leave a pitcher in for far too long, such as when he kept Edinson Volquez out on the mound during the sixth inning of Game Five of the ALCS. However, Yost has come a long way from being that dunce that he was labelled as, with his somewhat unconventional decisions typically working out for the best.
Maybe Yost is just on an inexplicable hot streak over the past year plus. After all, how else can one explain the success that the Royals have had when Alcides Escobar hits leadoff and swings at the first pitch? Who else would have known that the key to fixing Mike Moustakas was to have him hit second? Only Yost.
It also helps that his calm demeanor has worn off on the Royals. That quiet confidence, and calm under pressure, was a major part of why they were able to continually come back despite trailing by two runs or more in the eighth inning in six of their postseason victories. Yost, just by remaining true to himself, was able to be exactly what the Royals needed.
Ned Yost has been everything that the Kansas City Royals have needed at manager during this run of success. A World Series champion, and someone who may well have his number retired, Yost can add one more title to his resume – the best manager in Royals history.