By Murray Chass on May 14, 2017

    As the end of the 2002 season approached, the Milwaukee Brewers had a decision to make: Should they play their regular shortstop, Jose Hernandez, or should they bench him?

    Hernandez was not injured, nor was he in a slump. Furthermore, with a 53-98 record the Brewers pretty much had locked up last place in the National League Central.

    No, this was not about the Brewers generally but about Hernandez specifically. The shortstop had struck out 185 times the previous season, just missing Bobby Bonds’ major league record of 189, but now, with 11 games remaining, he had struck out 186 times and would almost certainly break the record if he played in the final games.

    The Brewers, with Jerry Royster as the manager, decided to hold Hernandez for most of the remaining games. He played in four of the 11 games, struck out twice and finished with 188.

    This scenario would not occur today. If strikeouts were undesirable and embarrassing then, they are …

    Murray Chass

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