Livan Hernandez’s Crazy Streak

Since 1998, three things have been constant: death, taxes, and Livan Hernandez starting at least 30 Major League Baseball games. Hernandez, despite bouncing between eight teams in these 12 seasons, is the only pitcher to accomplish this rather daunting feat. It appears that Hernandez will get a chance to continue his wondrous streak in 2010, as the Nationals have added him on a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training and a shot at a starting rotation slot.

This move isn’t terribly interesting, but I find Hernandez’s streak to be fascinating. We’ve seen so many hall of fame quality pitchers in the major leagues since 1998, and the one pitcher that has managed to combine durability with enough skill to remain relevant is Livan Hernandez. Yes, the very same Hernandez that has managed 19.6 WAR since 2002, nearly equivalent to Kenny Rogers (missed all of 2007, retired after 2008) and Freddy Garcia (23 starts since 2006).

Clearly, there is value in consistency. Teams must love knowing that they can plug Livan into a starting slot and rest assured that he will give them 180+ innings, even if they’re not particularly strong of late. His FIP hasn’t been below 4.00 since 2004 and last year’s 4.44 FIP was downright resurgent after a terrible 2007 with the Diamondbacks and a merely poor season split between Minnesota and Colorado in 2008.

It’s not like he was an ace in years prior to our win-value era, either. His best single-season FIP came in Florida’s 1997 World Series run, and that was at 3.57 – respectable, but not necessarily at ace level, and it only came in 17 starts. Livan has been living on pitching to contact and allowing just few enough HRs and BBs to stay in the league. His workmanlike performance has Rally placing him all the way down at 473rd among all pitchers in terms of career WAR, despite this remarkable durability.

And yet somehow, Livan keeps on plugging along. His fastball velocity is all the way down to 84-85 MPH average velocity, and yet he somehow manages to get major league hitters out. Here’s to longevity, and good luck to Livan Hernandez on continuing his streak.




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15 Responses to “Livan Hernandez’s Crazy Streak”

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  1. lincolndude says:

    Nice article. He’s not that good, but he definitely is amazing. He has been throwing junk for years and somehow keeps managing to plug along and provide value.

    I seem to remember someone writing about his total pitches over the past X years, and how he leads the next guy buy hundreds, but couldn’t find the article…

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  2. Patrick says:

    Livan… ew. The Twins kept giving him starts for way too long.

    Eww, eww, eww. :)

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  3. Matt says:

    I guarantee you that by April there will be 5 or 10 teams that wished they had someone this consistent to plug in as a 4th or 5th starter. There is something to be said for a guy who is able to take the ball every five days and give you 5 or 6 innings of winnable baseball game.

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  4. CCW says:

    Between 1997 and 2008, Jamie Moyer started in 30+ every season but one (2000, 26 starts). Not quite Livan, but pretty darn close.

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    • CCW says:

      Actually, Jamie’s streak started in 1996 and 2008 (inclusive), and in 2009 he got 25. That’s 14 seasons in a row with 25+ starts, which may be just as impressive as Livan.

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  5. ToddM says:

    I thought this piece might be about a different crazy Livan Hernandez streak that was broken last year — although it’s still related to his innings-eating ways:

    In every season from 2000 to 2008, he had at least 10 wins AND 10 losses. He was one win short last year from keeping it going.

    Note that he’s also only exceeded 15 wins once (17, in 2000) and 15 losses once (16, in 2002). His numbers stay right down the middle, which is also unfortunately true of many of his off-speed offerings.

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  6. Neil says:

    There’s also something to be said for Livan’s insistence that he was pitching hurt for at least the last two years; he said he finally feels fully healthy.

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  7. zenbitz says:

    BEST SHAPE OF HIS LIFE!

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  8. Bote Man says:

    Pear shape?

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  9. Tom says:

    The main reason teams keep bringing him back is for this reason. Ironically, he’s also a teammate of Marquis who has an interesting streak of being on a postseason team (even if not the roster) every year of the 2000s decade (despite playing for 4 teams) is incredible too. That is pretty sure to end though. He’s also been a durable starts making innings eater despite having some below average seasons. Livan has the curve ball, change up and off speed that help compensate for his fastball which he gets rocked on. He is generally better in April, May, and sometimes June, than in any of the last 3 months. He was arguably the Mets best starter besides Santana during the first 3 months of the season while they were running close with the Phillies and Marlins. The Nationals always either have bad luck or an apparent pitching slot open so it wouldn’t suprise me if he gets the opportunity to make 30 starts. I’m just not sure he’ll be good enough to do so again. They’ll be less pressure on him in Washington though. Once they’ve lost enough games, they are just happy to send anyone out there who’ll give them 5 innings even if he gives up 5 or 6 runs. They are just happy to have a chance to rally and pray their bullpen can hold out (I don’t know if I can remember a time they did on the Phillies last season).

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  10. pounded clown says:

    He’s a zombie…and nothing against zombies but he just does die

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  11. Brandon T says:

    A left-hander born in a right-handed body?

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  12. Roland says:

    Livan Hernandez is ( was ) a good ML pitcher and has been at least steady for almost all 15 years. Over 150 wins (150 Losses) with a 4.43 ERA, all those innings, games, etc. See how many pitchers today or at any time you know that have done that for this long and still are doing it. You can not get an ace all the time. I will bet that there are no more than 10 true aces at best in MLB, and believe me there is no best overall fifth starter than Livan Hernandez today, or perhaps very few if so.

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  13. Zaposlitev says:

    rhkkvlelxjonpblketez, delo, NOtHZCq.

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