Let's set the scene. Yesterday's Royals-Tigers game, top of the eighth, two outs, and the tying run on second, and Alcides Escobar at the plate for Kansas City. Alcides Escobar was, by multiple respectable metrics, the single worst hitter in baseball last year. Manager Ned Yost allowed Escobar to hit.
On the third pitch, Escobar flew out harmlessly to right. Why did Yost not send up a pinch hitter for Escobar, especially in an inning when he had already pinch-run for power-hitting catcher Salvador Perez? Hardball Talk draws our attention to Yost's explanation to the Kansas City Star, and it's a doozy:
"Until these guys show trends, that's when you start doing it. It's way too early to start getting in guys' heads about pinch-hitting. Especially when you're struggling as a team offensively."
A generous reading of that quote is that Ned Yost believes he can build the confidence of his glove-first shortstop by letting him flounder in a crucial situation. An ungenerous reading would be that Ned Yost does not realize that baseball players have continuous existences, and do not actually reset each winter. Trends!
There is more to the quote, and it's just as amazing. Pinch-hit for Escobar in the eighth? Unthinkable. In the ninth? Totally different.
"We were going to pinch-hit for Escobar in the ninth inning, if it came up that the score was still 1-0, a chance to hit a home run. But not in that situation."
By the time Escobar came up in the 10th inning, with the go-ahead run on, he pretty much had to hit. Yost had already pinch-run for the Royals' three best hitters. Escobar flied out weakly again.