Rich Tandler's Nationals blog.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Who Are These Guys? Livan Hernandez

Livan Hernandez
Livan will be the Next Big Thing in DC

Livan Hernandez’s Vitals

30 year old right handed starting pitcher, 6-2, 245. Career W-L 95-94, ERA 4.13, 1181 K’s 581 BB’s. Has also played for Florida and San Francisco

Quick Take

Clearly the staff’s ace, he will produce 250 innings of quality pitching in 2005.

Hernandez Rundown

The word “endurance” does not instantly come to mind when looking at the rather rotund physique of Livan Hernandez, but there was no more durable pitcher in baseball in 2004. In fact, that’s been the case for the past seven seasons. Since 1998 he’s been in the NL’s top 10 in both complete games and innings pitched. He’s getting stronger, topping the NL charts in both of those categories in each of the past two years. Last year he threw 3,926 pitches in 2004, the most in the National League by over 200.

Of course, to throw that many pitches and that many innings, you not only have to be durable, you have to be pretty good. His 11-15 record last year was dragged down considerably by the team’s dismal overall performance and by the sixth-worst run support in the major leagues. Certainly he deserved better with his ERA of 3.60.

As one would expect from such a prodigious inning eater, Hernandez’ game is finesse rather than power. His fastball tops out in the high 80’s and he throws that and a slow curve, slider, and change up with the same smooth motion. Like most finesse-type pitchers, he needs to pitch inside to be effective and he doesn’t have much of a margin for error. If his pitches wander towards the middle part of the plate, look out.

As if his prowess on the mound wasn’t enough, Hernandez is also pretty good at the plate. Good enough, in fact, to be voted as the NL’s 2004 Silver Slugger award as the league’s top hitter at his position. Now, the “slugger” part might be something of a stretch since he hit just one home run. He did, though, hit .247 with seven doubles. When called upon to bunt he was also adept there, laying down 15 sacrifice bunts.

Perhaps it’s a stretch to call him a five-tool player, but Hernandez can also field his position with the best of them. His range factor says that he fields an average of about one more ball per game than the average NL pitcher. That’s fairly significant, especially considering that he made just two errors last year.

Just one more reason why a Nationals fan should be delighted to have Hernandez on the team; should the team defy the odds and reach the playoffs, it has an accomplished postseason ace. In 1997, he pulled off the rare double of being named the MVP in both the NLCS and the World Series for the Florida Marlins.

Not to go overboard here, but the view here is that Livan Herndandez will be the Next Big Thing in Washington. Just as in the early 1970's everyone in town, sports fan or not, knew who Billy and Sonny were by their first names, everyone all around the Beltway and beyond will know who Livan is.

2005 Down and Up

Downside: 16-10, 3.50 ERA
Upside: 12-16, 4.25 ERA

To find Livan Hernandez’ career stats on, go to

To find previous player profiles in the “Who Are These Guys?” series introducing you to your new Washington Nationals, visit the Capitol Dugout home page at and search for “Nationals”.

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