Just How Many Losses Should We Blame On Ned Yost
While Joakim Soria struggled most of the season, he did enjoy a strong run in August. He pitched 10.1 consecutive scoreless innings in 11 appearances between August 5 to August 28. At that point, Soria had reduced his ERA to 3.67 and appeared to be turning his season around.
Kansas City Royals
Soria then surrendered a one-run lead in the seventh inning of a 5-4 loss to the New York Yankees on August 30.
Ok, it’s reasonable for Yost to discount that as a blip. And, indeed, Soria held the Tigers scoreless in a one-inning stint on September 3 in a 5-2 win. Soria then blew his second lead in a week the next day in a 6-5 loss to Detroit. At that point, given that it was the 11th lead Soria had blown on the season, Yost should have put Soria on the back burner in high leverage situations. You couldn’t afford to entrust games to a reliever suffering through a cold spell in an pennant race.
Instead, Yost allowed Soria to blow leads against the Twins on September 7 and the A’s on September 14. He also put Soria into a tie game on Tuesday’s 2-1 loss to Cleveland with runners on first and second in the ninth.
Oh, Yost also used successfully use Soria in two wins over the White Sox. On September 10, Soria pitched a scoreless inning to maintain a two-run lead in the eighth inning of a 6-5 Kansas City win. On September 17, Soria did allow an inherited base-runner to score on a double to reduce a two-run lead to one. But, he got a hold in a 3-2 KC win.
Add up all five high leverage situations, and Yost’s use of Soria cost his team exactly 1.00 WPA (100%).
However, that accounting ignores any hangover effect that came from those bad decisions. In particular, the blown game against the A’s sent the KC Royals into a three-game skid in which sub .500 Chicago and Oakland outscored them 29-9. Indeed, the Royals looked looked like zombies for the next 17 innings as the last place A’s outscored them 22-0. Kansas City tacked on five meaningless runs in a 14-0 loss on September 16.
Even without the hangover effect, costing your team a full game over 16 days due to your devotion to one player is pretty darn bad. Add in two losses from the hangover effect, and you get something like three games. That’s a disaster when you trail the Orioles by five games for the second AL wild card.