KC Royals: Psych Studies Support Batting Alcides Escobar At Leadoff

jviril
Apr 5, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar (2) is embraced by manager Ned Yost (3) as he receives his World Series ring before the game against the New York Mets at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports
Apr 5, 2016; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Royals shortstop Alcides Escobar (2) is embraced by manager Ned Yost (3) as he receives his World Series ring before the game against the New York Mets at Kauffman Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports /
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KC Royals manager Ned Yost was once labeled a “dunce” by the Wall Street Journal. Among the moves that drew their ridicule was batting hacktastic shortstop Alcides Escobar at leadoff. Don’t look now, but recent psychology research suggests Yost knows what he’s doing.

Every sabermetric guy under the sun will tell you batting one of the worst On Base Percentage (OBP) guys in major-league baseball at the top of your lineup is a bad idea. They’ll tell you that the leadoff hitter takes more at bats than any player on your roster. They’ll point to computer models that show teams will score more runs with a high OBP player batting no. 1.

They’ll laugh at the idea that hitting a low-OBP hitter at the top can gain some kind of intangible advantage. If you point to the Kansas City Royals and their two consecutive pennants with career .298 OBP hitter Alcides Escobar batting no. 1 in their lineup, they’ll insist the KC Royals won those titles in spite of their mistake with Escobar.

But those math whizzes ignore numerous psychology experiments that show Ned Yost is smarter than they think.

Ned Yost is well-known for rejecting sabermetrics in favor of managing with his gut. And, as the Kansas City Royals continue to defy the odds in both the playoffs and regular season, it’s becoming clear the KC Royals are doing something that numbers can’t quantify.

Sabermetric Gurus Ignore Psychology Studies That Support Yost’s Decisions

Yes, it’s hokey, corny, and sounds like something you’d hear in a saccharine Disney movie about a 12-year-old managing a baseball team to the World Series. But the story of the Kansas City Royals last two seasons is a Disney movie come to life. If you watch this team every day, at a certain point you can’t help but believe.

In fact, the numbers show that something beyond math is happening with the Kansas City Royals over the last three seasons. Let’s look at the evidence…

Next: The KC Royals Probability Defying Feats

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