Teodoro Higuera Valenzuela
- Bats Both, Throws Left
- Height 5' 10", Weight 178 lb.
Teddy Higuera made his professional baseball debut at age 21 with the Indios de Ciudad Juarez in 1979, going 0-1 and allowing 5 runs in 1 inning of work. The next year, he already was an effective pitcher, going 8-3 with a 1.85 ERA, 7th in the league, before the strike. He was not as good when the season resumed and went 2-5, 3.67 the rest of the way.
In 1981, Higuera went 16-9 with a 3.10 ERA, completing 14 of 28 games and striking out 157 batters and tied for sixth in LMB in victories. He followed with a rough year in 1982 in which he allowed 163 hits in 142 1/3 innings and was only 9-12, 4.05. Higuera was one of the Mexican League's top stars in 1983, though, going 17-8 with a 2.03 ERA. He allowed 177 hits in 222 innings, struck out 165 and finished 18 of 27 starts. He tied Alfonso Pulido for the league lead in victories, was fourth in ERA (behind Arturo Gonzalez, George Brunet and Pulido), led in strikeouts and presumably led in complete games.
That 1983 campaign earned Higuera a contract with the Milwaukee Brewers. He spent the entire 1984 season in the minors, going 8-7, 2.60 for the El Paso Diablos and 1-4, 4.73 for the Vancouver Canadians.
For the Brewers in 1985, Teddy went 15-8 and was voted as the AL Rookie Pitcher of the Year by The Sporting News. He was second in AL Rookie of the Year voting, trailing Ozzie Guillen. He improved on that and was second in Cy Young Award voting in 1986, behind Roger Clemens. Making his only All-Star team that year, Higuera became the second Mexican native to win 20 games in a season in Major League Baseball, 3 days after Fernando Valenzuela. He batted against Valenzuela in the All-Star Game, and was the fifth consecutive batter that his compatriot struck out in the game, tying the record set by Carl Hubbell. He did very well also, as he pitched three scoreless innings in the game in relief of Clemens. Overall, Teddy went 20-11, 2.79, was second in the 1986 AL in ERA, third in wins, third in complete games (150), third in strikeouts (207) and second in shutouts (4).
Higuera remained a star for a couple more years, as he was 18-10, 3.85 and 16-9, 2.45 the next two seasons. He was second in ERA in the 1988 AL, third in strikeouts (240) in the 1987 AL and in the top 10 in several other categories both years. He was sixth in Cy Young voting in 1987.
With injuries, his performance declined after that, though his ERA+ remained over 100 and he was a combined 20-16 the next two years. He missed the entire 1992 season after rotator cuff surgery in 1991. Leaving Milwaukee after going 1-5, 7.06 for the 1994 Brewers, Higuera failed to make the San Diego Padres in a 1995 bid and retired. He had gone 94-64 in the majors with a 117 ERA+. Higuera was the all-time Brewers strikeout leader until 2008, when Ben Sheets broke his record of 1,081.
After four years of not throwing, Higuera returned briefly with the 1999 Monterrey Sultans, going 7-2 with a 2.91 ERA in nine starts. He finished his Mexican League career at 59-40, 2.86. Overall as a professional pitcher Higuera went 165-118.
In 2006 he was a pitching coach for Mexico in the first World Baseball Classic. He also coached for Mexico in the 2008 Final Olympic Qualification Tournament, in which their MLB-experienced staff was not up to the task. Higuera was again with Mexico in the 2009 World Baseball Classic. He was voted into the Salón de la Fama in 2011 with 294 votes, second to Mercedes Esquer among players on the ballot.
Sources include Viva Beisbol newsletter by Bruce Baskin (3/26/06 issue), The Mexican League: Comprehensive Player Statistics by Pedro Treto Cisneros
- AL All-Star (1986)
- AL ERA Leader (1988)
- 15 Wins Seasons: 4 (1985-1988)
- 20 Wins Seasons: 1 (1986)
- 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 4 (1985-1988)
- 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 2 (1986 & 1987)