Former major league pitcher Willie Hernandez, who won the American League Most Valuable Player Award and Cy Young Award in 1984, has passed away, per reports. He was 69.
Hernandez was a lefty who spent virtually his entire 13 year career as a reliever. Originally a member of the Philadelphia Phillies organization, he was selected by the Chicago Cubs in the Rule 5 Draft in 1976 and spent the next half dozen seasons with them. Hernandez was dealt to the Philadelphia Phillies during the 1983 season for Dick Ruthven. After a half season with the Phillies, he was shipped (along with Dave Bergman) to the Detroit Tigers, on the eve of the 1984 season, in exchange for Glenn Wilson and John Wockenfuss.
1984 Detroit Tigers were one of the all time great teams, winning 104 games in the regular season, sweeping the Kansas City Royals in the ALCS, and then defeating the San Diego Padres in the World Series in 5 games. Hernandez was the team’s fireman, throwing 140.1 innings over 80 relief appearances, saving 32 games, going 9-3 and putting up a 1.92 ERA. Hernandez edged out Kent Hrbek, Dan Quisenberry and Eddie Murray for the A.L. MVP Award, and Quisenberry for the A.L. Cy Young Award.
Hernandez spent five more seasons with the Tigers before elbow problems ended his major league career. He made several attempts to get back to the majors, but his arm troubles never allowed that to happen.
Hernandez ended his career with a 3.38 ERA in 1044.2 IP over 744 games in 13 seasons, with three All Star appearances and a 16.5 career bWAR.