Mark Hendrickson will be back in Baltimore in 2010. He’s taking a small paycut and will likely join the team as a long reliever and spot-starter (especially in the team’s early April stretch of 16 straight games, which I’ll rant on later).
Orioles lefty Mark Hendrickson" width="200">
I’m torn on the signing, but definitely see the value Hendrickson adds to this club. First and foremost, he adds a left arm to a staff that, before his signing, likely only had two lefties, total (Brian Matusz and Mike Gonzalez). Having Hendrickson around for long-relief – thereby giving the likes of Matt Albers and Koji Uehara a little more rest – certainly isn’t a bad thing. And if you look at Hendrickson’s numbers last season, they were far from awful (well, at least after May).
In fact, despite my consistent joking last year that Hendrickson was the king of allowing inherited runners to score, that was hardly the case. It only felt that way. Hendrickson finished the season tied for 8th in the league, allowing just 22% of inherited runners to score.
Nonetheless, my assertion wasn’t entirely off-base. Through 2008, Hendrickson was among the league’s worst in stranding inherited runners over the course of his career. And his high percentage of balls put in play (aka, low strikeout rate) was never of much help to his statline. Then again, as a reliever, letting an inherited runner score never affects your ERA – just the guy before you.
Regardless, Hendrickson is a necessary addition for this team at this point. If he can maintain his late 2009 form, he’ll be a fine role player (on a team of role players?).