The game of baseball was struck with tragic news Sunday morning as the 24 year old superstar Jose Fernandez, Miami Marlins ace pitcher, was announced dead after a boating accident killed him and 2 other friends. The other details are sketchy as of now but all we know is baseball lost one of its’ premier talents.
Statistically, it’s clearly obvious why this kid was loved by so many. In 471.1 innings in the majors, Fernandez posted an absurd 2.58 ERA and 2.43 FIP while also becoming the quickest pitcher to reach 500 strikeouts. At 20 years old, Jose Fernandez made the Opening Day roster for the Marlins in 2013 and was an immediate star. Fernandez pitched to the tune of a 2.19 ERA in 172.2 innings, racked up 4.1 WAR and was named to the National League All Star team and also won NL Rookie of the Year. His 2014 season was cut short(2.44 ERA in 51.2 innings) when he tore his Ulnar Collateral Ligament(UCL) and underwent Tommy John Surgery. He came back with a vengeance in 2015 and didn’t miss a beat, throwing 64.2 innings with a 2.92 ERA. 2016 continued his incredible dominance, as he posted a 2.86 ERA in 182.1 innings while striking out 34.2% of the batters he faced. At the age of 24, Jose Fernandez had put up historically great numbers. Now, he’s gone.
Maybe more important than the numbers themselves is the fact that Jose Fernandez had a one of a kind personality. From the second he reached the majors in 2013, Fernandez has a charismatic personality and a ferocious desire to be the best of the best. Fernandez would yell after a big strikeout, pump his fist after getting out of a jam, scream when something went wrong and even bat flip when he hit home runs at the plate. He found himself in controversy several times because of his raw emotion but his energy was always shown for his accomplishments, not to show others up. A child at heart, Fernandez was one of those players in baseball who always looked like he was truly enjoying what he did on a daily basis.
After defecting from Cuba after numerous failed attempts, Jose Fernandez became a cultural icon in baseball and in the city of Miami. For many Hispanics and Cubans in the Miami region, Fernandez was a beacon of optimism and hope for a team deprived of that in many years. Losing Fernandez today is not only a tough loss for the Marlins but a colossal loss for the game of baseball. Jose Fernandez will leave a lasting impact on baseball and he will be remembered for the incredible talent and joy he brought to the field. May you rest in peace, Jose Fernandez.