With Ned Yost becoming the Royals winningest manager yesterday, I want to take a look back at the six managers to spend a significant amount of time calling the shots from the KC bench. The Royals are yet to have a skipper who sticks around for a truly long period of time. At the end of this season, Yost will become the first person to manage five full seasons for the Royals. I could see him easily managing two or three more years, so he’ll probably qualify as the first true long-timer. Dick Howser should have had a good long run had cancer not prematurely ended his career.

Below, I take a look at those managers who spent at least three full seasons at the helm. Partial seasons are thrown out in the below numbers. Before I get to the numbers, let me stress that I think evaluating managers with numbers gives an extremely limited picture and that how they interact with the players and what kind of environment they foster is more important than their in-game strategies and tendencies. But here’s a look at a few things we can judge, in the hopes they can shed a little light.

With a nod to Adam Darowski’s attempt to see how managers have fared relative to what we might expect, I look at how many more or less wins the managers earned than their teams’ Pythagorean record and the teams’ wins above replacement would expect. Dave Cameron has written that variations from Pythagorean records is due mostly to “clutch” hitting, something that probably has little to do with a manger, so take all these numbers with a huge salt mine. There is a huge amount of noise there, but it is at least intriguing when a rare manager consistently outperforms Pythag. Does a manager deserve some credit when a team squeezes out more wins than their total wins above replacement suggest? Your guess is as good as mine.

I also look at how the skippers performed in one run games, where there is again plenty of noise, but perhaps managers have a bigger role in those games where every pinch hit, bunt, steal, and bullpen maneuver is magnified. Then I take a look at how many more or less intentional walks and sacrifice bunts happened on their watch compared to AL averages over the same seasons just to get a feel for their philosophies in those regards.

1. Whitey Herzog • 1976—79

G W L Pyth
Wins
Above
Expected
WAR
Wins
Above
Expected
1 run
W
1 run L IBB
Above
Avg.
Sac
Bunts
Above
Avg.
648 369 279 2 4 118 93 1 -76

Herzog was given more talent than any other manager, but he also comes out looking pretty good in these categories.

2. Dick Howser • 1982—85

SacBuntsAboveAvg.

G W L Pyth
Wins
Above
Expected
WAR
Wins
Above
Expected
1runW 1runL IBB
Above
Avg.
648 344 304 16 14 105 81 -47 -40

Wow. Howser looks just incredible here. His teams squeezed out just about all the victories they could. He didn’t intentionally walk and he didn’t sac bunt. Just trusted his players to go out and get the job done, and they did.

3. John Wathan • 1988—90

G W L Pyth
Wins
Above
Expected
WAR
Wins
Above
Expected
1runW 1runL IBB
Above
Avg.
Sac
Bunts
Above
Avg.
484 251 233 -3 -8 73 68 13 -53

Nothing much to see here, except to note Duke was not a sac bunt fan.

4. Hal McRae • 1992—94

G W L Pyth Wins Above Expected WAR Wins Above Expected 1runW 1runL IBB Above Avg. Sac Bunts Above Avg.
439 220 219 6 -11 73 75 -12 -6

McRae’s teams outperformed their Pythag but underpformed their WAR. Who knows what to make of that. Probably not much.

5. Tony Muser • 1998—2000

G W L Pyth Wins Above Expected WAR Wins Above Expected 1runW 1runL IBB Above Avg. Sac Bunts Above Avg.
484 213 271 -3 -7 49 74 3 57

Ew. Lost the close ones, sac bunted a lot. Muser and Yost are the only mangers on the list to sac bunt more than the AL average.

6. Ned Yost • 2011—June 18, 2015

G W L Pyth Wins Above Expected WAR Wins Above Expected 1runW 1runL IBB Above Avg. Sac Bunts Above Avg.
711 356 355 -6 -18 112 114 -8 26

These totals don’t tell the story. Look how it breaks down year-by-year:

Yr G W L Pyth Wins Above Expected WAR Wins Above Expected 1runW 1runL IBB Above Avg. Sac Bunts Above Avg.
2011 162 71 91 -7 -11 25 32 9 16
2012 162 72 90 -2 -6 27 26 12 -9
2013 162 86 76 -1 1 31 25 -9 10
2014 162 89 73 5 0 22 25 -17 7
2015 63 38 25 -1 0 7 6 -3 2

You probably know the team’s win totals have increased every year under Yost, but it’s interesting to see how the other numbers have changed too. Yost has grown and changed in his time in KC, which is a really cool thing to see from a guy in his late 50s/early 60s in a game that often fears change. He told the Star how much he’s changed in how he handles players, mentioning the 2013 season specifically as a turning point, and a change even shows up in his in-game style and results that season. Ned should be lauded for rarely issuing intentional walks anymore, and the team is just a bit over average when it comes to sac bunts. You can still legitimately question his lineup construction, but you can’t really argue that has a major impact on wins and losses or that the team isn’t winning with his lineups. It’s been a stunning reversal. Here’s to Ned, the winningerest of ’em all.