Guillermo "Willie" Hernández Villanueva (born November 14, 1954 in Aguada, Puerto Rico) is a former relief pitcher for the Chicago Cubs (1977-1983), Philadelphia Phillies (1983), and the Detroit Tigers (1984-1989). He threw and batted left-handed.
In his first two years in the majors ('77 and '78), Hernandez went 16-9 with a 3.03 ERA in '77 and a 3.77 ERA in '78. Hernandez failed to be as impressive in the next few years. The Cubs gave him a try as a starter in 1980, but it failed miserably, as he went 1-9 that year in 7 starts and 53 games.
From 1979-1982, Hernandez was 9-19 and gave up 128 earned runs in that time. After being traded to the Phillies for Bill Johnson and Dick Ruthven, his talent seemed to be resparked. The May 22 trade marked a turning point in his career. With the Phillies that year, he went 8-4 with 3.29 ERA and 7 saves. The Phillies would make the World Series that year and lose to the Baltimore Orioles in 5 games.
After a trade sent him to the Tigers in 1984, Hernandez would put together an amazing season:
1984 statistics: (italics represent a career high)
In the entire season, Hernandez gave up only 6 home runs, 30 runs, 36 base on balls, and 96 hits. His 32 saves came in 33 opportunities, with his only blown save coming in a meaningless late September game after the Tigers had clinched the AL East title.
He would win the Cy Young Award, beating out Dan Quisenberry. He also became one of the few relievers to ever win the Most Valuable Player Award (the others are Jim Konstanty, Rollie Fingers, and Dennis Eckersley), edging out Kent Hrbek. The Tigers finished 104-58 that season, and went on to sweep the Kansas City Royals in the American League Championship Series and defeat the San Diego Padres in the 1984 World Series, four games to one. Hernandez pitched five innings in the series, had two saves, and gave up only one run. Some refer to it as "The Perfect Season."
His overall postseason stats include a 2-2 record and a 1.32 ERA in 10 games, 13 innings pitched. He walked 2, and struck out 7.
Willie Hernandez never had those numbers again, but was a solid reliever for the Tigers in his final years - when he became known by his given name Guillermo Hernandez. In 1988, his second-to-last year, he went 6-5 with a 3.06 ERA and 10 saves in 67 innings pitched. Hernandez's last game was on August 18, 1989, before being released by Detroit.