Throughout the 2016-17 offseason, Fish Stripes is recapping the Top 100 Marlins to ever appear with the franchise. Using the Wins Above Replacement (WAR) metric, all 523 players were considered, whether they played for the Florida or Miami version of the Marlins. Today’s Marlin, Livan Hernandez, earned 4.6 while with the team.
Hernandez was born on February 20th, 1975 in Villa Clara, Cuba, and signed on with the Florida Marlins in January 1996, after his defection. He spent most of that season in the minors, starting with the Portland Sea Dogs (9-2, 4.34 ERA, 1.475 WHIP, 95 K’s in 93.1 innings) and graduated to the Charlotte Knights (2-4, 5.14 ERA, 1.939 WHIP, 45 whiffs in 49.0 innings). On September 24th, he made his major league debut in a 12-1 win over the Atlanta Braves, striking out two over three scoreless innings of relief.
He was composed and made good pitches. - Marlins pitching coach Larry Rothschild
Hernandez did spend some time in the minors in 1997 (15 starts, 5-3, 3.90 ERA, 1.441 WHIP, 60 K’s in 85.1 innings between Portland and Charlotte). In mid-June, the Marlins called him up for a start against the New York Yankees, and he struck out six over five innings, getting the 6-5 win while allowing three runs. He went up and down a few times, but stayed with the parent club long enough to finish second in the NL Rookie of the Year vote, after going 9-3 over 17 starts, with a team-second 3.18 ERA and a 1.235 WHIP, and 72 strikeouts in 96.1 innings. On July 19th, he allowed just one hit over six shutout innings, striking out four Padres in an 8-5 victory.
I put up six zeroes, so obviously the results were the best I’ve had - Hernandez
11 days and two starts later, Hernandez pitched eight shutout innings against the Reds, allowing three hits and striking out eight in a 6-0 victory.
He's pitched great every time out for us. He was aggressive with everything. He used his breaking ball when he was behind in counts. . . . He did a lot of things you don't normally see young pitchers do. - Rothschild
On August 26th, Hernandez struck out six and allowed two hits over six scoreless innings in an 11-0 win against the Chicago Cubs. The decision pushed his record to 8-0 over 12 starts (Hernandez would win another before his first losing decision).
Hernandez went on to star for the Marlins in the postseason, racking up a 4-0 record over five appearances, and taking home both the NLCS and the World Series MVP. His performance in the NLCS in particular showed him at his best. He went 2-0, striking out 16 in 10.2 innings and allowing only five hits and a walk for a 0.656 WHIP and a 0.84 ERA.
In 1998, Hernandez regressed to the norm a little, going 10-12 with a 4.72 ERA in 33 starts as Florida’s number one starting pitcher. He racked up a 1.575 WHIP and struck out 162 batters in an NL fifth 234.1 innings. He ranked second on the senior circuit with nine complete games, and second with 1,040 batters faced. His best game of the season came on June 25th, when he struck out nine in a complete game, 5-1 win against the San Diego Padres.
1999 would see Hernandez go 5-9 through 20 starts through the trading deadline, with a 4.76 ERA and a 1.588 WHIP, along with 97 strikeouts in 136.0 innings. The Marlins traded him to the San Francisco Giants on July 25th for Nate Bump and Jason Grilli.
Hernandez went 45-45 in 110 starts for the Giants over parts of four seasons, with a 4.44 ERA, a 1.432 WHIP, and 484 K’s in 746.1 innings. He later played with the Montreal Expos / Washington Nationals (197 starts, 70-72, 3.98 ERA, 1.349 WHIP, 840 whiffs in 1317.0 innings), the Arizona Diamondbacks (43 starts, 15-16, 4.64 ERA, 1.542 WHIP, 129 K’s in 273.2 innings), the Minnesota Twins (23 starts, 10-8, 5.48 ERA, 1.632 WHIP, 54 strikeouts in 139.2 innings), the Colorado Rockies (eight starts, 3-3, 8.03 ERA, 1.785 WHIP, 13 K’s in 40.1 innings), the New York Mets (23 starts, 7-8, 5.47 ERA, 1.593 WHIP, 75 K’s in 135.0 innings), the Atlanta Braves (18 games, 1-1, 4.94 ERA, 1.431 WHIP, 19 strikeouts in 31.0 innings), and the Milwaukee Brewers (26 games, 3-0, 7.68 ERA, 1.431 WHIP, 29 strikeouts in 36.1 innings). Hernandez retired from baseball on March 13th, 2014.