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Royals set lineup has a disastrous debut

Apr 1, 2013, 11:42 PM EST

Mike Moustakas AP

Despite facing a very tough left-hander in Chris Sale, the Royals had Mike Moustakas batting cleanup today. Why? Because Ned Yost wants a set lineup. Pay no attention to those splits behind the curtain.

That set lineup:

LF Alex Gordon
SS Alcides Escobar
DH Billy Butler
3B Moustakas
C Salvador Perez
1B Eric Hosmer
CF Lorenzo Cain
RF Jeff Francoeur
2B Chris Getz

The problem here is that while it’s a fine lineup for Yost to use against righties, it makes zero sense to stick Moustakas in the cleanup spot against lefties. The 24-year-old is a career .233/.283/.349 hitter versus southpaws. Francoeur, for all of his faults, is a .289/.341/.479 hitter against lefties. Common sense would dictate that he and Perez, in either order, would be the Royals’ No. 4 and 5 hitters against lefties.

That’s not part of Yost’s strategy, though. In Monday’s opener, Escobar and Butler both reached safely twice apiece. Moustakas had six men on base over the course of his four at-bats and went hitless, striking out twice. Francoeur, on the other hand, singled twice out of the eighth spot. Unable to put their hits together, the Royals lost 1-0. For that, Yost deserves some of the blame.

  1. js20011041 - Apr 1, 2013 at 11:52 PM

    “That’s not a part of Yost’s strategy.”

    You’re assuming Yost has a strategy. Or that he even knows what a strategy is. I will never understand this nonsense about how players need to know their roles. Whether it’s how relievers are used or how a manager fills out his lineup card. There are very few things in baseball in that a manager has control over, but those are two of the more important ones. The fact that most managers are perfectly content to go with this “strategy” of using a set lineup, regardless of platoon splits, and defined roles for the bullpen is baffling. There is no matching up late in games anymore. Managers don’t pitch hit and for the most part, they don’t take platoon splits into account when making pitching changes. They put in their 7th inning guy or their 8th inning guy. It takes zero brains and zero balls to execute this kind of managing.

  2. mattymatty2000 - Apr 2, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    It also depends a bit on the Royals goals. Considering Moustakas is maybe the most important player on the Royals, getting him at-bats in crucial situations isn’t a bad idea. Not saying a ‘set lineup’ is a good strategy (I don’t think it is) but if Moustakas fails then the Royals likely fail. Showing some faith in the young guy isn’t a bad idea because he had a bad day at the plate in the first game of the season.

    • dan1111 - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:39 AM

      I agree; this article is off base.

      Moustakas is a young prospect who hasn’t produced much yet from either side of the plate. He is batting cleanup because of his potential, not his track record. He was quite productive against lefties in the minors and has never had a huge platoon split. If he lives up to his potential, he will likely beat Francoeur’s numbers against lefties.

      I agree that a set lineup is silly, but giving Moustakas an opportunity to succeed as the full-time cleanup hitter is eminently defensible.

      • sportsdrenched - Apr 2, 2013 at 10:05 AM

        Except the attitude of the front office indicates that the time for “growing” is over, even though their strategy hinges on Moustakas/Hosmer/Perez having break out years.

        It’s just another indication that Yost..and the front office either has no desire to, or doesn’t know how to come into the 21st Century in terms of strategy/player evaluation….and their record on the field bears that out.

      • Cris E - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:48 PM

        If you want to bring him along then you kind of want to consider keeping him out of situations where he just hasn’t figured it out yet. And we’re not talking about Brian Duensing here, but an actual good LH pitcher in Sale.

        A grown-up manager has to have ways to tell one guy “You’re important” and turn to the rest of the clubhouse and say “Frenchie is on this roster to hit lefties” at the same time. That’s Ned’s job. If young Moustakas has trouble hearing that he’s not ready yet.

    • Mark - Apr 2, 2013 at 8:21 AM

      It’s not JUST about Moustakas though. Mind you, Moustakas has a career 229/279/344 line vs LHP, so he’s not exactly the guy you want hitting fourth vs LHP. The Royals can both give him key at bats to prepare him for the future and not bat him fourth vs lefties, where he’s been overwhelmed against his entire career. That’s not helping him or the team.

      As Matthew pointed out Francoeur hitting 8th vs LHP is a bit of a joke, when one of the few things he actually does well is hit LHP. So failing to move him up is a poor move.

      If the idea was simply to give the young players more at bats, you’d think Hosmer would be batting higher than 6th. Not only is he younger than Moose, and has a more proven MLB track record, but he was a better hitter in the minor leagues.

      It’s a questionable lineup that really can’t be defended against and it’s not a surprise that it cost them the game. Yost is an awful manager, and the prospect/youth status for Moustakas is not a legitimate reason to bat him fourth when there are other young players with a higher ceiling and better track record who deserve a shot to bat in front of him. Hell, there were better veteran players who could actually hit lefties who could have moved up in the lineup.

      The idea of set roles/lineup spots is just poor managing, and Yost showed why he doesn’t deserve to be a MLB manager.

      • mattymatty2000 - Apr 3, 2013 at 1:41 PM

        You had me until you said that there are other players with a higher ceiling than Moustakas. I don’t believe there is anyone on the Royals with a higher ceiling than Moustakas. Batting him fourth might not be the ideal place to spot him against a lefty (again, not arguing for the set lineup or Moustakas’s place in it, or the Royals making smart decisions) but there isn’t anyone on the Royals who profiles as a better hitter. At least that’s my understanding. One way to get better at something is to do it more often so maybe having Moustakas face lefties is the Royals way of doing that.

      • Mark - Apr 3, 2013 at 11:19 PM

        “You had me until you said that there are other players with a higher ceiling than Moustakas. I don’t believe there is anyone on the Royals with a higher ceiling than Moustakas.”

        Well that’s wonderful you think so. You must be the only one.

        ” Batting him fourth might not be the ideal place to spot him against a lefty (again, not arguing for the set lineup or Moustakas’s place in it, or the Royals making smart decisions) but there isn’t anyone on the Royals who profiles as a better hitter. ”

        There are several that are better vs LHP. One of them is Jeff Franceour.

        “One way to get better at something is to do it more often so maybe having Moustakas face lefties is the Royals way of doing that.”

        That makes for a nice sound bite, but unfortunately it’s not always true.

  3. tfbuckfutter - Apr 2, 2013 at 12:06 AM

    Pointing out the things the Royals are doing wrong is like…..

    Hmm….I can’t actually think of a thing that is as easy or easier than that for comparison….

    • historiophiliac - Apr 2, 2013 at 12:16 AM

      trolling Phillies fans?

      • stex52 - Apr 2, 2013 at 9:27 AM

        Craig says “Thank you”, philiac. Actually, me too.

  4. livepredictor - Apr 2, 2013 at 12:10 AM

    We downgraded Manager Host when he was in Milwaukee..Although we did not project to GM’s that this team would make the playoffs they will be knocking on post season door…Watch!

    • js20011041 - Apr 2, 2013 at 6:27 AM

      I literally have no idea what you’re saying here.

      • Cris E - Apr 2, 2013 at 1:51 PM

        Watch!
        We downgraded
        Manager Host
        when he was in Milwaukee..
        Although we did
        not project to
        GM’s that
        this team would make
        the playoffs regret they will be
        knocking on post
        season door…

    • Gamera the Brave - Apr 2, 2013 at 10:24 AM

      Wait, what?

  5. blacksables - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:15 AM

    The Reds, Marlins, and A’s all had worse days at the plate than the Royals.yet don’t get the same treatment.

    What’s wrong, did the Cardinals stay up past your bedtime and you had to pick on the Royals instead?

    • bla bla bla - Apr 2, 2013 at 5:54 AM

      There’s no crying in classy-land.

  6. kiwicricket - Apr 2, 2013 at 2:23 AM

    Unless someone loses an eyeball or has their arm fall off due to being in the wrong position, I loathe to read a lineup order is ‘disastrous’ after the first game of the season. No, I don’t agree with what the Royals did, but the headline is a bit OTT.
    Pouliot is trawling for hits after the first game of the season. Sigh.

  7. blingslade - Apr 2, 2013 at 3:29 AM

    The real problem with the Royals is they can’t score runs. Couldn’t last year and they’ve got the same lineup this year. They don’t have any real stars, thus they lose 90 games again this year..A G A I N ! ! !

  8. moogro - Apr 2, 2013 at 4:52 AM

    I thought the Reds had the only manager’s loss of the day. This is the other. Matt is correct.

  9. randall351 - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:16 AM

    What’s even stranger, is the fact that the past couple of years he’s been changing the line up almost every day. I can remember last year when basically everyone moved around except for Francouer who was cemented into the 5th spot even in the midst of a historically bad year; which became part of a running joke on local sports radio.
    So this set line up crap must be some sort of new thing he read about in a book on baseball or something, because it is the opposite of what he’s done the past two seasons.

  10. vols84 - Apr 2, 2013 at 11:12 PM

    Yost is too loyal to Chris Getz and Franceour. These guys don’t belong as everyday starters. In the end, it will cost “Frank” Yost his job by All Star break. Yeah, I said Frank. Look it up. Ned is a nut.

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