KANSAS CITY -- If it seems to be tough to score runs these days, the increasing sophistication of defensive positioning is one reason in the view of Royals manager Ned Yost.
The Rays have a reputation for defensive shifts, but the Royals and other clubs are in on that trend as well.
"We know exactly where every player on their team has hit every ball for the last four years -- exactly where," Yost said. "You look at the percentages and try to put yourself in a high percentage place. But you still have to be able to make pitches to be able to defend it properly, so there are a lot of variables that go into it."
With everything on computers, all clubs have access to an array of detailed information. Things have come a long way since Hall of Fame manager Whitey Herzog sat in his office drawing hitters' "spray charts" by hand while he held court with reporters.
"Back in the older days, everybody just played straight-up, or if they knew a guy they'd move a step or two," Yost said. "But now you've got so many defined patterns that if you pitch a guy effectively, you can pretty much defend him to a much higher percentage in both the infield and the outfield, and that probably has a lot to do with [a general decline in offense]. You really notice all the shifts that teams put on now from all the information everybody's got."
Certainly Yost is aware of the difficulty of scoring; going into Tuesday night's game, his Royals were tied with Oakland for the fewest runs scored in the American League, 282, despite having the fourth-highest batting average of .262.
Sometimes when a Royals player pounds a hard grounder up the middle, Yost's instinct tells him that should be a hit. Then he looks and ... "Dadgummit,' the shortstop's a step from the bag and he's right there and, boom, he throws him out."
That kind of anticipation used to make a player look smart because he'd studied opponents over the years and remembered their tendencies and knew where to play.
"Now they don't have to be smart, they just go where the coach tells 'em to play," Yost said.
As he pointed out, however, the pitcher has to throw the right pitch so the batter hits the ball in the anticipated direction.
"You just try to play the percentages and hope that your pitcher makes the pitch and, more times than not, you'll be in the right spot," Yost said.
Teaford officially named starter for finale
KANSAS CITY -- The lid is off the worst-kept secret in town: Left-hander Everett Teaford will start Wednesday afternoon's series finale for the Royals against the Rays.
"He's been throwing the ball good and we like the lefty matchup against this club over there," manager Ned Yost said.
Yost also set up the rotation for the next few days -- Luis Mendoza on Friday night at Minnesota; Jonathan Sanchez and Luke Hochevar, in that order, in the day-night doubleheader on Saturday against the Twins and Bruce Chen in the series finale on Sunday.
That puts Teaford in line to start next Monday night's series opener at Toronto, but Yost will need a starter on Tuesday night against the Blue Jays. The skipper said that could be Vin Mazzaro or someone called up from the Minors.
For now, Mendoza will stay in the rotation with Mazzaro working in long relief.
Does Teaford have potential as a Major League starter?
"I think he does," Yost said. "He's made great strides the last couple years in his career. He started at Double-A a couple of years ago to make a name for himself in our organization. The thing I like about him is he's got three pretty good pitches he throws for strikes and he competes really well."
Carlson among Pitch, Hit and Run finalists
KANSAS CITY -- Jordan Carlson of Council Grove, Kan., will represent the Royals as one of 24 finalists in the 2012 Aquafina Major League Baseball Pitch, Hit and Run competition. She is among three finalists in the 11-12 girls age group.
The National Finals will be held at Kauffman Stadium on Monday, July 9 at 2:15 p.m. CT, prior to the All-Star Workout Day. More than 685,000 youth were in 4,000 competitions across North America in age groups ranging from 7 to 14.
This is the third straight year that a nationwide Girls Softball Division was part of the program that allowed girls to compete and advance separately from the boys.
Dick Kaegel is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.