Royals Fans Should Blame Ned Yost, Not Joakim Soria
Ned Yost Deserves The Blame Instead Of Joakim Soria
Kansas City Star writer Jesse Newell wrote an excellent story about Joakim Soria’s impact on the Royals this season. Newell’s article made two key points clear: 1) Soria has been awful as measured by Win Probability Added (WPA). WPA is a metric that adds up how much each player added or subtracted from his team’s win probability over a season and 2) Ned Yost has continually used Soria in situations where his peers would not.
Many pundits are talking about Soria surrendering 14 leads on the season. However, blaming him for all 14 of those losses isn’t sound. In many cases, the Kansas City Royals still had a chance to rally after Soria gave up a lead. WPA attempts to quantify just how the actions of one player affected the probability of his team winning a game using historical performance data for specific situations.
Soria’s WPA is -2.32 after Tuesday night’s debacle. That’s 232% in winning chances lost on the season. Soria’s WPA is the second worst mark among 298 relievers in MLB.
As for the second point, Newell writes:
"The numbers also show Soria is not being used like other un-clutch relievers. “Average leverage index” or gmLI, lets us know how pressure-packed a situation is when a pitcher enters the game, with anything above 1 being considered above average. Soria’s 1.44 average leverage index ranks 36th among 138 qualified relievers. Among the top 40, only four players have negative WPAs: Cory Gearrin (negative-0.28), Steve Cishek (negative-0.31), Erasmo Ramirez (negative-0.84) and Soria (negative-2.10). What does it mean? For this season at least, no other manager has put as poor of a reliever as Soria in as many clutch situations as Yost."
When you consider that the Kansas City Royals rank 6th in major league baseball with a bullpen ERA of 3.42, it’s not as if everyone else has a horde of better options. Yost is CHOOSING to put one of the worst relievers in major-league baseball as measured by WPA into key situations.
That’s setting up both Joakim Soria, and his entire team, to fail.
In the clearest terms, a manager’s tactical goal is to put his players in positions where they are likely to succeed. Ned Yost is doing the exact opposite with his “loyalty” to Joakim Soria.
Those choices all rest on Ned Yost.