Keith Hernandez

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Note: This page links to 5-time All-Star first baseman Keith Hernandez. For the former Division II Player of the Year of the same name, click here.


Keith Hernandez

BR page

Biographical information[edit]

Perhaps the best fielding first baseman of all time, Keith Hernandez won 11 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1978 to 1988 and was also a good hitter, with a lifetime OPS+ of 129. He was known for hitting over .300, but he also drew walks and had moderate power.

Hernandez's father, John Hernandez, was a minor league first baseman from 1941 to 1949 (mostly in the Texas League), and his brother, Gary Hernandez, was a 1B/OF in the St. Louis Cardinals chain from 1972 to 1975.

Major leagues[edit]

Hernandez spent the first 9 1/2 years of his major league career with the St. Louis Cardinals, winning the batting championship and being voted co-winner of the MVP Award (tied with Willie Stargell in the final voting) in 1979. In 1982, he was on the Cardinals' World Series champion team.

He became even more famous when he was traded in the middle of 1983 to the New York Mets, moving to baseball's largest market. It was widely rumored at the time that Hernandez was traded because Cardinals manager Whitey Herzog considered him a bad influence on younger players, and Hernandez was so distraught by the trade to the then last-place Mets that he seriously considered retiring. However, he spent 6 1/2 years with the Mets, through age 35, hitting .300+ in the first four seasons with them, becoming a huge star in the process. He was on the Mets' 1986 World Series championship team.

While he played at about the same level with the Mets as he had with the Cardinals, he made the All-Star team three times with the Mets in 6 1/2 years, whereas he had been on the All-Star team just twice with the Cardinals in 9 1/2 years. He came in 2nd in the NL MVP voting in his first full season with the team in 1984, losing to Ryne Sandberg. He had 24 game-winning RBI in 1985. He was the first Mets player to be named team captain, holding the honorary position from 1987 to 1989; the last two seasons, Gary Carter was the co-captain. Between the Cards and the Mets, he won a record 11 Gold Glove Awards at first base as well as two Silver Slugger Awards.

He finished out his career playing one year with the Cleveland Indians in 1990, but by that time he was basically done as a productive player.

Outside of his career[edit]

He has been a television broadcaster for the New York Mets since 1999.

Hernandez also appeared as himself in several episodes of the popular TV show "Seinfeld" as himself and dated musician Carly Simon at one time.

In 2006 Hernandez became bogged down by a controversy when he complained about the presence of a female trainer being allowed in the San Diego Padres dugout. He apologized after a barrage of criticism; other women involved in baseball remarked that Hernandez had been known for sexist comments since his days as a player. He was involved in another controversy on August 15, 2018, when he was just about the only commentator to defend the Miami Marlins' Jose Urena's stupid and potentially very dangerous gesture of hitting Ronald Acuna of the Atlanta Braves with a 97 mph fastball with his first pitch of the game for the "crime" of being on an insanely hot streak. Hernandez's views were widely condemned for being reflective of the machismo of a thankfully by-gone era.

Career analysis[edit]

Keith Hernandez was simply born at the wrong time. He was a slick-fielding high-average first baseman of the type that was adored from 1870 to 1940 and often got into the Hall of Fame. If he had been born in the year 1900 he would have been extremely similar to Hall of Famer Jim Bottomley, the first baseman who also played many years for the St. Louis Cardinals and who had an OPS+ of 125.

The most similar players to Hernandez, using the similarity scores method, are Mark Grace, Wally Joyner, and Hal McRae, none of them Hall of Famers. However, his OPS+ is higher than any of them, he appeared in more All-Star games than any of them, and he won more Gold Gloves than any of them, so there is still a chanced that at some point, the Veterans Committee will select him for induction.

Before the 2022 season, the Mets announced that they would retire Hernandez's uniform number, 17, at a ceremony to be held on July 9th.

Notable Achievements[edit]

  • 5-time NL All-Star (1979, 1980, 1984, 1986 & 1987)
  • NL MVP (1979)
  • 11-time NL Gold Glove Winner (1978-1988)
  • 2-time NL Silver Slugger Award Winner (1980 & 1984)
  • NL Batting Average Leader (1979)
  • NL On-Base Percentage Leader (1980)
  • NL Runs Scored Leader (1979 & 1980)
  • NL Doubles Leader (1979)
  • NL Bases on Balls Leader (1986)
  • 100 RBI Seasons: 1 (1979)
  • 100 Runs Scored Seasons: 2 (1979 & 1980)
  • 200 Hits Seasons: 1 (1979)
  • Won two World Series with the St. Louis Cardinals (1982) and the New York Mets (1986)

1978 1979 1980
Dave Parker Keith Hernandez & Willie Stargell Mike Schmidt

Further Reading[edit]

  • Anthony DiComo: "Mets to retire Keith's No. 17 on July 9",, January 11, 2022. [1]
  • Keith Hernandez and Mike Bryan: If At First: A Season With the Mets. McGraw-Hill, New York, NY, 1986. ISBN 0070283451
  • Keith Hernandez and Mike Bryan: Pure Baseball. Harper Perennial, New York, NY, 1995. ISBN 0060925914
  • Keith Hernandez: I'm Keith Hernandez: A Memoir, Little, Brown and Company, New York, NY, 2018. ISBN 978-0316395731
  • "Keith Hernandez says 'you gotta hit' Ronald Acuña referring to Jose Urena's plunking", North Jersey Record, August 15, 2018. [2]
  • Marty Noble: "Trade to Mets nearly sent Hernandez into retirement: Distraught after being dealt to New York, first baseman seriously weighed options",, April 23, 2014. [3]

Related Sites[edit]