There was a lot about the seasons that I worked for the Devil Rays worthy of being forgotten. But Roberto Hernandez was not one of those things. The thing I remember most about Hernandez, was that he was always at his locker when the media entered the clubhouse, no matter how he pitched. There were a lot of Devil Ray pitchers in those days that hid from the media in the training room or the players’ lounge, especially when they stunk, but Hernandez was never one of them and I always respected him for it.
I am sure you know by now that Raphael Soriano tied Hernandez’s single-season club save record Wednesday night. (If you didn’t, here is a good story from today’s St. Pete Times with some good quotes from Hernandez). Before Soriano bumps Hernandez down a spot this weekend, I thought it was a good time to take a look back at Hernandez’s impressive 1999.
Hernandez saved 43 games in 1999 for a team that won … wait for it …69 games! He should absolutely have been the AL MVP. Right?
Hernandez made 72 appearances in 1999, 47 of which came in save situations. In those 47 save situations, Rubber-Toe had a 2.47 ERA, and struck out 8.8 hitters per nine. Strip out his four blown saves, and his ERA plummets to 1.02 and his strikeouts per nine innings goes up to 9.1.
Look at those numbers again, Hernandez had to pitch in 25 non-save situation appearances and STILL saved 43 games. To date, Soriano has only pitched in 14 non-save situations.
Hernandez also had 5 saves and a win in 8 outings against the Red Sox (94-68 in 1999) with a 1.93 ERA, and 1.179 WHIP. He added 3 more saves in 6 games against the eventual World Champion Yankees (98-64 in 1999) with a 4.76 ERA and 1.412 WHIP.
In the end, Hernandez was a good pitcher on a historically awful team. The season he put together in 1999 for Larry Rothschild’s gang of misfits shouldn’t be forgotten.