Tuesday, September 3, 2013

#70 Roberto Hernandez

About the Front: Roberto Hernandez kicks and fires as a Red Sox baserunner (or maybe first base coach?) does some navel-gazing. For the fuzzy Bostoner's sake, I hope this is just a warmup pitch.

About the Back: You might not have known that Hernandez was originally an Angels' farmhand. California traded him and fellow minor leaguer Mark Doran to the White Sox in 1989 for outfielder Mark Davis, whose big league career consisted of two hitless at-bats for the Halos in 1991. Roberto, on the other hand, saved 161 games in parts of seven seasons in Chicago. Not a bad trade for the Pale Hose.

Triple Play:

1. Despite racking up 326 total saves (13th-most in history) over a 17-year career, Roberto never led his league in saves in any season.

2. The University of South Carolina Aiken named its baseball field in his honor in 1993.

3. In 2007, a 42-year-old Hernandez appeared in 28 games for the Indians. One of his teammates was 23-year-old starter Fausto Carmona. It came to light in 2012 that Carmona had been playing under an assumed identity since signing with Cleveland as an amateur free agent from the Dominican Republic in 2000. He was actually three years older than he'd claimed, and his birth name was...Roberto Hernandez.

11-Year-Old Kevin Says: 1993 was Roberto's first full season as Chicago's closer. If I'd been following baseball more closely in the early 1990s, I probably would've been shocked to see Bobby Thigpen deposed from late-inning duties so soon after racking up his record 57 saves in 1990.

Bill James Said: "Bread-and-butter pitch is a hard, sinking fastball. Real hard." That hard sinker helped Hernandez strike out 7.9 batters per nine innings in his career, 42nd-best all-time.

On This Date in 1993: September 3. MLB team owners vote to realign each league into three divisions, with the best second-place team in each league also advancing to the postseason as a wild card. These changes will be effective as of the 1994 season.

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