Former major league third baseman Eddie Yost, who led the AL in walks six times in an 18-year big-league career, died at age 86 on Tuesday.
Long before walks were cool, Yost was the champion of the category, racking up huge totals despite the fact that he wasn’t an overpowering hitter. Yost never batted .300 and topped 15 homers just once in his career, which spanned from 1944-62, but he twice led the AL in on-base percentage and finished in the top six five more times.
Along with leading the AL in walks six times, he finished second to Ted Williams twice. He topped 100 runs five times, leading the AL once. He also led the AL in doubles one year.
Still, for all of his success, Yost made just one All-Star team, and it actually happened in one of his weaker seasons in 1952. He was at his best in 1959, when he hit .278/.435/.436 with 21 homers in his first year with the Tigers. He spent his first 14 seasons with the Senators before finishing up with two years in Detroit and two more in Los Angeles with the Angels.
At the time of his retirement, Yost was fourth on the all-time walk list behind Babe Ruth, Williams and Mel Ott. He currently ranks 11th with 1,614 walks.
After wrapping up his playing career, Yost spent 22 years coaching with the Senators, Mets and Red Sox before retiring in 1984.
The Rays started Sergio Romo on back-to-back days and if that sounds weird to you, you’re not alone. Romo, of course, was the star closer for the Giants for a while, helping them win the World Series in 2012 and ’14. He’s been a full-time reliever dating back to 2006, when he was at Single-A.
In an effort to prevent lefty Ryan Yarbrough from facing the righty-heavy top of the Angels’ lineup (Zack Cozart, Mike Trout, Justin Upton), Romo started Saturday’s game, pitching the first inning before giving way to Yarbrough in the second. Romo struck out the side, in fact. The Rays went on to win 5-3.
The Rays did it again on Sunday afternoon, starting Romo. This time, he got four outs before giving way to Matt Andriese. Romo walked two without giving up a hit while striking out three. The Angels managed to win 5-2 however.
Despite Sunday’s win, Cozart wasn’t a happy camper with the way the Rays used Romo. Via Fabian Ardaya of The Athletic, Cozart said, “It was weird … It’s bad for baseball, in my opinion … It’s spring training. That’s the best way to explain it.”
It’s difficult to see merit in Cozart’s argument. It’s not like the Rays were making excessive amounts of pitching changes; they used five on Saturday and four on Sunday. The games lasted three hours and three hours, 15 minutes, respectively. The average game time is exactly three hours so far this season. I’m having trouble wondering how else Cozart might mean the strategy is bad for baseball.
It seems like the real issue is that Cozart is afraid of the sport changing around him. The Rays, like most small market teams, have to find their edges in slight ways. The Rays aren’t doing this blindly; the strategy makes sense based on their opponents’ starting lineup. The idea of valuing on-base percentage was scoffed at. Shifting was scoffed at and now every team employs them to some degree. Who knows if starting a reliever for the first three or four outs will become a trend, but it’s shortsighted to write it off at first glance.