Judging the Royals

As Ned Yost’s managing shows, patience is a virtue

Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost.
Kansas City Royals manager Ned Yost. jsleezer@kcstar.com

On Wednesday afternoon, the Royals hit three home runs and beat the San Francisco Giants 7-2. It was the Royals’ fourth win in a row and in all four wins the Royals scored seven or more runs.

The Royals’ offense is clicking.

But, as fans already know, that wasn’t always the case. This April, the Royals hit .210 as a team, scored 2.6 runs a game and their record was 7-17. The villagers never got around to storming the castle, but there was a lot of grumbling and gathering of pitchforks.

This June — at least so far — the Royals are hitting .293, scoring 6.2 runs a game and their record is 8-4.

And that brings up an interesting point.

When we think about baseball managers, and those who excel at the job, we tend to think of shrewd in-game decisions. If our thinking is a little more sophisticated, we might throw in the ability to run a happy clubhouse or deal with the media.

But we rarely think of patience.

Ned Yost has been ridiculed countless times for in-game decisions. Before the Royals won a World Series — and sometimes after — it was popular to refer to any managerial move that didn’t work out as being “Yosted.”

Whatever you think of Yost’s in-game managing, he deserves credit for not panicking when he was being urged to do so by his critics. It drives some fans crazy when they think a change needs to be made and Yost advises patience, but that patience often pays off.

At one time or another, fans wanted the Royals to demote, trade or send the following players for a long walk off a short pier:

Wade Davis, Alcides Escobar, Alex Gordon, Luke Hochevar, Greg Holland, Eric Hosmer, Kendrys Morales, Mike Moustakas and Yordano Ventura.

A little more thinking would produce more names, but you get the picture; you can’t dump players every time they scuffle because, sooner or later, all players scuffle. Sometimes you have to just be patient and wait for the player to figure things out.

When the Royals offense was scuffling in April, Yost advised patience and said the hitters would eventually come around — and now they have.

Ned Yost is pretty good about being patient and, after all the criticism, he deserves some credit for that; because, after all, patience is a virtue.

BTW: the Royals probably aren’t going to hit .293 as a team

Currently, the best team batting average in all of baseball is .277. In 2016, the best team average was .282. In 2015, it was .270. I started covering the Royals in 2010 and since then the highest team batting average was .283.

The Royals hitters are hotter than asphalt in August right now, but it wouldn’t be smart for people to assume the offense will continue to play like this. Ballplayers, coaches and managers know that a 162-game season is going to have its ups-and-downs, so they strive to keep an even keel. Fans would be advised to do the same.

Rudyard Kipling died in 1936, but before he kicked the bucket he wrote a poem called “If” and here’s one of its best-known lines:

“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster and treat those two imposters just the same…”

I don’t know if Rudyard had a clue about when to call a hit and run, but he clearly understood the mental fortitude needed to run a big league ball club.

Thursday night’s game

The Royals are currently 30-34 and coming into the Angels series riding a hot streak.

But as Earl Rudyard Weaver once said: Momentum is the next day’s starting pitcher.

And tonight those starting pitchers are Matt Strahm (1-3, 4.50 ERA) and Ricky Nolasco (2-7, 4.81 ERA). Nolasco throws a fastball about half the time and when he’s not throwing heat it’s splitters, sliders and curves. Strahm is much more reliant on the fastball and has thrown it over 70 percent of the time.

Length (how long a pitcher stays in the game) will also be an issue for Strahm. This is his first big-league start and Strahm hasn’t thrown more than two innings this season.

Overall numbers indicate the Angels might have an advantage when the game goes to the bullpens; Angels relievers have a collective ERA of 3.58, Royals relievers have a collective ERA of 4.58.

West Coast start time of 9:07, so drink some coffee and think of an excuse to show up late at work tomorrow.

Enjoy the game.