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Former AL MVP, Cy Young winner Willie Hernandez dies at 69

Tue Nov 21 1:52pm ET
Field Level Media

Willie Hernandez, the 1984 American League Most Valuable Player and Cy Young Award winner, has died, one week after he turned 69.

The Detroit Tigers, with whom he spent six seasons, announced his death Tuesday but provided no additional details. "The Tigers are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Willie Hernandez," the team statement said. "Our thoughts are with the Hernandez family, his friends, and teammates."

Hernandez, a native of Puerto Rico, made his major league debut with the Cubs in 1977 and remained in Chicago until an in-season trade sent him to the Philadelphia Phillies in 1983. He joined the Tigers in 1984, and the left-handed reliever spent the rest of career in Detroit, retiring after the 1989 campaign.

The 1984 season was magical for the Tigers, who finished 104-58 under manager Sparky Anderson and defeated the San Diego Padres in the World Series in five games.

That year, Hernandez led major league pitchers in appearances (80) and games finished (68). He had a 9-3 record with a 1.92 ERA and 32 saves. He wasn't only a ninth-inning closer, throwing 140 1/3 innings with 112 strikeouts.

His numbers for appearances, games finished, strikeouts and innings all were career highs.

"Willie Hernandez was a great teammate, and I'm terribly sorry to hear the news of his passing," Hall of Famer Alan Trammell, who played shortstop for the Tigers from 1977-96, said Tuesday in a statement. "I will never forget our team's celebration together on the mound after he recorded the final out of the 1984 World Series. He will always be remembered as a World Series champion. My thoughts and prayers are with his family."

In his 13 MLB seasons, Hernandez was 70-63 with a 3.38 ERA and 147 saves in 744 games (11 starts). He struck out 788 batters in 1,044 2/3 innings.

He was a three-time All-Star, all with the Tigers.

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