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KC Royals manager sent Raul Mondesi Jr. to the plate to lead off the 10th inning of Tuesday night’s key game against the New York Yankees with the Royals trailing 5-4. Was it a mistake?
Note, this piece is about KC’s game 2 loss on Tuesday, not game 3 on Wednesday which had the same score and also went into extras.
I certainly thought so. To me, the key fact is that Mondesi is hitting a whole .196 in 2016 with an equally miserable .542 OPS. Throughout his minor league career with the Kansas City Royals, Mondesi sports a minuscule 3.7% walk rate. He’s also a guy whose slow-developing bat has determined his promotions.
I tweeted my opinion just after Mondesi stepped into the box:
In short, he’s been a guy that’s been largely over-matched at the plate and is playing in Kansas City due to his speed and exceptional range. Why should that guy bat in the top of the 10th when the KC Royals desperately need a base-runner?
However, Ned Yost‘s decision worked out for Kansas City:
Note that Raul Mondesi was down O-2 when Yankees reliever Ben Hiller hit him with a ball that tailed inside. At the time, the KC Royals had Paulo Orlando, Cheslor Cuthbert, Billy Burns, and Drew Butera on the bench available to pinch hit.
Are you really telling me that Raul Mondesi Jr. was the best option to hit in that situation?
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Apparently, Ned Yost thought so. There are some reasons to support such a move. First, the Kauffman Stadium field was slippery after drizzle had fallen most of the evening following a one-hour rain delay. Mondesi’s bunting skills and speed could make fielding any grounder an adventure that could easily turn into a multi-base error.
And, if Mondesi got on, his ability to swipe bases could be the difference between winning and losing. Add in the kid’s bases-clearing triple on Sunday in Boston and his three-game hitting streak, maybe Ned was confident that Mondesi could get a hit.
My choice would have been to bring in Cheslor Cuthbert and pinch run with Billy Burns if he got on base. Cuthbert doesn’t have Mondesi’s ability to beat out base hits, or put pressure on defenses, but he is hitting .290 and has a lot more pop than Mondesi.
Could the pinch hitting penalty be a factor?
Next: The Pinch Hitting Penalty