It would be hard to call Livan Hernandez’s retirement surprising, but some people such as myself were probably a bit taken aback because we assumed he had already retired. That is not meant as a slight. Hernandez is in his late thirties (some would say he is even older), did not pitch at all in 2013, and was dreadful when he last pitched in the majors in 2012. Our own Paul Swydan ranked Hernandez’s 2012 as one of the worst final seasons among pitchers having similar careers.
Beat writers and fans of Hernandez’s numerous teams will have all the best stories and reflections on his career. It would be hard to top Grant Brisbee’s (understandably) Giants-centric farewell to Hernandez, so I am not even going to try. But Hernandez drew attention, even late in his career, for other, non-fan-centric reasons. In 2011, Jeff Sullivan (who today [Livan Day at FanGraphs!] also posted about Hernandez and the strike zone) mentioned that Hernandez had a pretty bad slider in 2011. Yet after that same 2011 season, Swydan noted gave Hernandez an honorable mention for his incredibly slow, but amazingly curvy curve in 2011. Robert Baumann also got in on The Joy of Livan.
Rather than getting into every little statistical detail of Hernandez’ career, let’s look at three different moments from the roughly the beginning, end, and middle of his career.