No, Ned Yost didn’t “out-manage” Bruce Bochy. His players played better

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I’m seeing some pretty serious overanalysis this morning about last night’s game. Two guys — ESPN’s Jayson Stark and Fox’s Jon Morosi — have “Ned Yost out-managed Bruce Bochy” columns up. Both of them seem like an oversell. Stark called it a “chess match,” and argues that Ned Yost proved all the naysayers wrong with his deft moves. Morosi only briefly goes there — his column is more of a look-ahead to Game 3 — but asserts the same thing.

Is it rude of me to suggest that maybe, just maybe, we’ve gone way overboard in attributing wins and losses to managers this postseason?

Certainly bad moves should be called out. Yost made a few early in the playoffs and the Tigers and Cardinals, for example, can point to managerial decisions as a big reason they’re sitting at home now. And as I mentioned earlier this morning, Bochy putting in Hunter Strickland in the game with runners on base was probably the wrong move.

But it’s not as if last night was a master class in managing by Yost or a comedy of errors by Bochy. Hell, even Yost was dismissive of anyone suggesting he was a genius. From Stark’s own column:

Except afterward, with his Royals’ Series-evening 7-2 win over the San Francisco Giants in the books, Yost had a confession to make, before anyone could induct him into either Mensa or the World Grandmasters Hall of Fame:

“After the sixth inning,” Yost said, happily, “my thinking is done.”

And it is: Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis and Greg Holland make thinking something of a redundant concept. Heck, if we can say anything about Yost’s decisions last night, perhaps we can say that he should’ve possibly gone with lesser relievers after he got a five-run lead rather than use his big guns. I don’t mean that as anything approaching a major criticism — there is an off-day today and Yost did what he felt he needed to do to win the game — but the fact remains that Yost didn’t exhibit genius last night. He just managed and didn’t mismanage. The fact also remains that, if we try hard enough, we can find fault in even the no-brainer moves.

It seems to me that, rather than focus on the managers like everyone seems so intent on doing, maybe we can just say that the Giants’ pitchers didn’t make good pitches when they needed to and the Royals handled everything that came their way in that sixth inning. I suppose it’s harder to get 800-1,000 words out of “the Royals hit the ball well and the Giants didn’t pitch too good” than it is to go on about managerial genius or the lack thereof, but the fact is that most games are decided by the players playing, not the chess moves the managers make. Last night was one of those games.

It’s understandable when people overanalyze during the World Series. There is only one game a night and a couple of off-days in the middle. The usual rhythm of the Major League season in which any game is relatively disposable and we get a new slate of 10-15 of them the next evening is out the window. The October schedule lends itself to football-style analysis, in which every single move is scrutinized to the nth degree because, jeez, what else are we gonna talk about? But let’s not forget that this is baseball and that sometimes — probably most of the time — the players decide what happens.

Video: Aristides Aquino becomes fastest player to 10 home runs in MLB history

Aristides Aquino
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There’s no two ways about it: Aristides Aquino is having a rookie year for the ages. The hot-hitting Reds outfielder tacked another item onto his already lengthy list of accomplishments on Friday, clubbing a two-run, 396-foot home run off of Adam Wainwright in the sixth inning of the Reds’ 13-4 loss to the Cardinals.

The blast came far too late in the game to upset the Cardinals’ nine-run lead, but was otherwise perfectly timed for the rookie. It marked his 10th career home run in just 16 major-league games, officially making him the fastest MLB player to 10 homers in league history. (On a less-thrilling note, it was also the first home run allowed by the Cardinals in 32 2/3 consecutive innings.)

So far in 2019, Aquino is batting a robust .353/.400/.961 with 11 extra-base hits, 19 RBI, a 1.361 OPS, and 0.8 fWAR through 55 plate appearances. Friday’s feat follows other impressive performances from the 25-year-old, who collected three homers against the Cubs last Saturday and tied Trevor Story‘s previously unbeaten record for most homers through his first 10 career games. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon adds that Aquino’s torrid home run pace also eclipsed the standing record held by the Phillies’ Rhys Hoskins, who delivered nine home runs through his first 16 career games in 2017 (per Elias).