The world of baseball is mourning the death of reliever Willie Hernández, who passed away at the age of 69. Hernández, a left-handed pitcher, began his career as an amateur free agent with the Phillies in 1973 before being selected by the Cubs in the Rule 5 draft in 1976. He was known for his exceptional rookie year with the Cubs in 1977, where he had a 3.03 ERA and was good for 3.2 WAR.
In 1984, Hernández had his best season to date with the Tigers. After being traded back to the Phillies and then shipped to Detroit in a four-player swap, Hernández’s career took off. He appeared in 80 games out of the bullpen that season and went on to win both the AL Cy Young and AL MVP awards. Hernandez saved three games during those playoffs and had a whopping 4.8 WAR. Not only did he make his first All-Star Game, but he also became one of only 11 pitchers in history to win both MVP and Cy Young award in the same season.
Hernandez’s legacy will live on as one of baseball’s greatest relief pitchers of all time, especially for that remarkable 1984 season where he helped lead the Tigers to their first World Series title since 1945. His closing game save against San Diego Padres will always be remembered fondly by fans around the world. Despite his success on the field, Hernandez faced health challenges later in life and underwent heart surgery in