The baseball world is mourning the loss of former MLB relief pitcher Willie Hernández, who passed away at age 69 on Tuesday. Hernández, a left-handed pitcher, was signed as an amateur free agent by the Philadelphia Phillies in 1973. He spent time in the minor leagues before being selected by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 draft in 1976.
During his time with the Cubs, Hernández had varying levels of success as a reliever, but it was during his time with the Detroit Tigers that he truly shone. In 1984, he had one of the best seasons of his career, going 9-3 with 32 saves in 33 chances while appearing in 80 games out of the bullpen. His ERA was a miniscule 1.92 and his WHIP was just 0.94 with an impressive strikeout to walk ratio of 112:28. This performance earned him not only his first All-Star Game appearance but also won him both the AL Cy Young and AL MVP awards – making him one of only eleven pitchers to do so in history.
Hernandez’s legacy will be remembered as a key player on those incredible ’84 Tigers team that started off strong winning their first 35 games and finished with a World Series title. He saved three games during those playoffs and was outstanding throughout, putting together a season for the ages that would end fittingly by closing down the World Series for a two-inning save. Despite facing health challenges later on life including heart surgery to install a pacemaker in