Rob Grabowski-US PRESSWIRE
2012 was a rough year for several Brewers, but I think it's pretty easy to pinpoint the team's least valuable player.
MVBrewers is a player-by-player look at the most valuable members of the 2012 Brewers, as voted on by you. Here's our top ten:
The series now continues with Lesser Brewers, to cover some of the remaining Brewers that we have not covered so far. This is the eleventh installment in that segment. You can see all the player profiles in the Most Valuable Brewers 2012 section.
Since we talked about the oldest Brewers in this week's Thursday Thinker, now seemed like as good a time as any to profile 2012's eldest statesman.
2012 was Hernandez's 17th major league season and the Brewers were his ninth team, so it's really hard to believe he's still only 37 years old. The soft-tossing veteran hurler has thrown 3189 career innings, the most of any active right-handed pitcher. He's seventh on the active all-time list with 1976 strikeouts, and second only to Jamie Moyer in hits, home runs and earned runs allowed.
Hernandez joined the Brewers in June after being released by the Braves (Bill Hall, of all people, broke the news) and made 26 largely rough appearances for Milwaukee down the stretch. Despite striking out 7.2 and walking just two batters per nine innings, Hernandez posted a 7.68 ERA as a Brewer. The long ball was the primary source of his struggles, as he allowed 2.5 of them per nine innings.
The fact that Hernandez was occasionally called upon to pitch late in close games might be the largest possible indictment of the play of his teammates in the Brewer bullpen this season. He was called upon to pitch in relief in either save situations or tie games in the late innings three times in July alone...and allowed runs in all three outings.
You have to think we're near the end of the line for Hernandez, but you probably also could have said that at this point in any of the last five years. His average fastball is now sitting right around 84 mph.
It didn't lead to a Brewer win, but Hernandez bailed the Brewers out of a very sticky situation when Mike Fiers had to leave a start after just 3.1 innings against the Marlins on September 3. Hernandez faced eight batters that day and retired them all, working 2.2 scoreless innings with three strikeouts to save the rest of the bullpen.
That game also featured this bizarre moment:
Hernandez was due to become a free agent this winter anyway, but the Brewers sped up the process a bit by outrighting him off the 40-man roster on October 17.