The MLB lost a bright star in Jose Ferrnandez over the weekend. Fernandez was a talented, passionate player and role model before his untimely passing.
Miami Marlins’ ace Jose Fernandez died in a boating accident at the age of 24, sometime before 3 a.m. Sunday morning. His boat, named “Kaught Looking,” was found overturned after an apparent crash into a jetty in the waters near Miami. Fernandez and two of his friends, Emilio Macias and Eddy Rivero, were all killed in the crash according to investigation led by Florida Fish and Wildlife.
The Marlins celebrated Fernandez’s brief career by retiring his number 16. The entire team wore it in Monday’s game against the Mets. The news of Fernandez sudden death hit his family and his team very hard as you would expect. Teammate and fellow team-leader Giancarlo Stanton had said, “I’m still waiting to wake up from this nightmare. I lost my brother today and can’t quite comprehend it. The shock is overwhelming. What he meant to me , our team, the city of Miami, Cuba & everyone else in the world that his enthusiasm/heart has touched can never be replaced.”
For most, Jose Fernandez was not yet a household name. However, he was well on his way toward achieving that level of notoriety. Fernandez had arguably the best stuff of any right-hander in all of baseball.
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After defecting from Cuba in 2007, Jose Fernandez came into the league in 2013 as the 5th ranked prospect in the MLB. At the end of the year, Fernandez was not only named the rookie of the year and an All-Star, but he placed 3rd in the Cy Young Award ballot. He finished the year with a 2.19 ERA and a league-best 9.79 k/9 innings. His rookie season was in fact statistically historic, as he finished in the top-10 all-time WAR (4.2) and adjusted ERA for a rookie.
In 2014, Jose Fernandez had to undergo Tommy John’s surgery and didn’t pitch again until July of 2015. In his first game back from injury, Fernandez hit a home run and struck out six batters in an impressive six innings of work.
At the start of 2016, Jose Fernandez had still not fully recovered from his surgery, but it became apparent that he had reclaimed the “stuff” he had when he entered the league. Jose was 16-8 with an ERA of 2.86, a career best 12.49 k/9 and was an All-Star again. Jose pitched eight shutout innings on Sept. 20 in a 1-0 Marlins victory. Fernandez described the performance as “the best game he ever pitched.” Unfortunately, it was his last.
After waking up to the news of Fernandez’s death, the Marlins cancelled their game on Sunday against the Braves. Before Monday’s game, Jose’s good friend Giancarlo Stanton delivered a moving speech to his team.
Finally, after performing several of Fernandez’s pre-game rituals, Dee Gordon led off the bottom of the first inning by taking a pitch right-handed.