Former MLB outfielder Dave Henderson passed away at age 57 on Sunday. Henderson played for the Mariners, Red Sox, Giants, A's, and Royals from 1981 to 1994. Here, Christina Kahrl recounts her memories of Henderson as someone growing up as an A's fan and seeing Henderson in the lineup on a daily basis in the late 1980s. It's a refreshing look back that focuses on the person less than the career numbers. She remembers his jovial play and recalls his endearing imperfections. Kahrl writes,
Spoiled as a kid by watching ultimate fly-ball catcher Dwayne Murphy glide around center for the A's, Hendu seemed a bit busy out there by comparison, taking so many steps to cover ground that he looked like a spider crawling toward the gaps ... only to get to the ball just in time at the very moment when you started to worry he might not make it. It wasn't the stuff of highlight reels, but when I close my eyes, that's what I see in my mind -- Hendu, arriving in the nick of time.
The moment in Henderson's career that will remain in the collective memory of baseball fans is his 1986 ninth inning home run in the ALCS. The dinger, which came off of Angels closer Donnie Moore, prevented the Red Sox elimination. They eventually won the ALCS but lost the World Series. If you have a hard time conjuring the home run in in your mind, it's the one with the the hops on the way to first base:
An interview opportunity is wasted without the right questions. David Laurila knows how to ask the right questions, and he always maximizes his opportunities. At the Winter Meetings earlier this month, Laurila asked managers about the times through the order penalty, which is the indisputable statistical evidence that that the opponent's OPS increases each time through the order against the same pitcher.
The takeaway from these interviews is that, like other bits of "indisputable statistical data," there are caveats. In particular, context and additional factors might make it a reasonable decision to leave a starting pitcher in to face a lineup for a third, and even a fourth, time. While Walt Weiss wasn't among the interviewees, I suspect that his response would fit the consensus that the penalty is real and should be accounted for, but it shouldn't be the only thing a manager thinks about. That's the right approach.