5 Reasons Ned Yost Is the Manager to Lead the KC Royals to a Winning Season
In 2012, the Royals found themselves with their best finish in years, sitting pretty at third in the American League Central.
With the future possibly on the line, do the Royals stick with Yost or find someone more suited to take this team to the top?
Trust me on this one: The answer is Yost.
The Royals Keep Improving
This is how the Royals have finished each season since 2009 (the season before Yost took over).
2009: 65-97 (4th in AL Central)
2010: 67-95 (5th); Trey Hillman win-percentage .255; Ned Yost .433
2011: 71-91 (4th)
2012: 72-90 (3rd).
It's been baby steps, but the Royals have been consistently improving under Yost. Sure, it's just a couple extra wins here-and-there, but those have obviously counted for something in the standings.
In 2012, the difference between first and second place in the AL Central was three extra wins.
When it comes to the division, a handful of extra wins can mean a lot. If anyone can keep this team getting better, it's Yost.
He Got Alex Gordon Producing
How are these for splits:
Alex Gordon pre-2010: 334 games, .246/.330/.407, 37 home runs, 28 stolen bases, 5.1 WAR
Alex Gordon 2010-2012: 386 games, .271/.353/.437, 45 home runs, 28 stolen bases, 12.4 WAR
2010 was of course the season in which Ned Yost took over after 35 games.
For a long time Alex Gordon was heralded as a franchise player. Before Yost, it never showed. But since taking over, he's made it a priority to get Gordon comfortable in the lineup and the batters box.
I don't know if it's purely because of the managing change that Gordon has taken off, but better to not jinx things moving forward.
He's Good with the Young Guys
The Royals are a young club with a lot of key prospects they're hoping will pan out. It takes a certain kind of manager to handle each players' growing pains.
If you look at the Royals stats, you can see how good of a job Yost does.
Salvador Perez, Lorenzo Cain, Mike Moustakas, Alcides Escobar and Billy Butler all took big steps forward in 2012. Each of those players is 26 years or younger, with big futures ahead of them.
And if I was writing this pre-2012, those names could have just as easily have been Alex Gordon, Aaron Crow and Eric Hosmer.
With plenty of more young talent on the rise, Yost looks like the best guy to handle it all.
We've Yet to See What He Can Do with Talent
While the Royals continue to improve step-by-step, they've yet to take that giant leap forward.
A part of that is the lack of a passable starting rotation. KC has preferred the "wait and see" method of building a rotation with prospects than the "trade for established talent" method.
But now that the majority of their prospects are on the cusp, GM Dayton Moore is getting aggressive—such as trading for Angels pitcher Ervin Santana.
I admit, Santana is no ace. But he's a pitcher with potential, and at times he can look very ace-like. This is the Royal's first step towards improvement.
And yes, Yost did have Zack Greinke at one point, but that was only 2010—as he was traded before 2011.
Once Yost has some really sturdy talent in his hands, it could be a very rapid climb to the top.
The Man Can Run a Bullpen
For the last slide, we've got another series of stats. This time, it's Kansas City's bullpen ERA since 2009.
2009: 5.02 (29th in the Majors)
2010: 4.46 (25th)
2011: 3.75 (19th)
2012: 3.17 (6th)
Keep in mind, it's not as if Yost's talent has been getting increasingly better over the years. In fact, it was quite the opposite in 2012, with the Royals losing Joakim Soria for the whole year to injury, and trading Jonathan Broxton mid-way through the season.
If you don't have solid starting pitching, you need a solid bullpen. Under Yost, the Royals bullpen has been one of the best in the majors.
Any manager who can shave nearly two runs off a pen's ERA in four years is a keeper.