On Sunday, baseball received extremely saddening news as the passing of Jose Fernandez went public.
Devastating is really the only word that comes to mind. When you think of Jose Fernandez, you think of a man who ignited everyone around him.
Whether it was a masterpiece on the mound or exuberance in the clubhouse, the Miami Marlins’ superstar right-hander was capable of bringing just about anything to a franchise.
Yesterday morning, he was taken from this world far too soon, leaving a pregnant girlfriend and a loving family, along with sorrowful teammates, behind after a boating incident. In the process, he reminded us of how special and precious life truly is.
Prior to his passing, the 24-year-old was doing wonders on the hill. As a guy who had fought back from adversity more than once, he finally solidified himself into what he was going to be for years to come — an ace and one of the few prominent faces of baseball.
At 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA over 29 starts, the electrifying young arm was mowing through the league. Destined to complete his first full season since his Rookie of the Year campaign in 2013, nothing but promise surrounded a top-five pitcher in the game.
He had hurled 182.1 frames, allowed merely 149 hits, walked only 55, and struck out 253 batters in dominating fashion. In the process, his career ERA had dipped to 2.58 while his record improved to 38-17. His career K/9 rate was 11.2. Long story short, looking at early signs, the kid had Hall of Fame stuff, Cooperstown poise, and was destined for baseball immortality — and, of course, his spirit will always live on.
Sure, the National League is stacked with pitching. Yes, Fernandez was slated to finish top 10 in Cy Young voting — not number one.
Now, the choice has become ever so clear. If each member of the BBWAA votes their conscience in the end, the NL Cy Young Award will have already been decided.
The likes of Kyle Hendricks, Jon Lester, Noah Syndergaard, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, and Max Scherzer can all take a step aside just this once. The award belongs to one man, and one man only. That guy is Jose Fernandez — may he rest in peace.
This would not simply be a matter of major league baseball executing a nice gesture, but honoring someone who had a profound impact on the game.
Yes, that has an impact. But it doesn’t mean he was not qualified. In fact, you can make the argument — as far as dominance goes — that he stacked up extremely well with the rest of the pack.
With that said, the race should be simplified. The award should be given to a more than worthy candidate. There will be no refutation, outcry, or sense of disbelief.
Only one imperative factor will persist. That is pure and utter respect.
Jose Fernandez will not be able to physically receive the honors, but he will have earned them. He may not be able to cherish the plaque, but his lone Cy Young award will follow him forever.
The final memory of a brilliant young man will be a classy gesture that he earned — prior to his tragic incident — through hard work and sheer results.
He will always be remembered as the master of his own domain, Marlins Park, which he tore apart to the tune of a 1.49 ERA (29-2 record) over 42 career starts at home. At such a young age, with a bright future ahead, he discovered one area to excel in at a clip no one had before.
That determination was leading him on a path towards distinguished greatness. Although he will no longer toe the rubber in front of his home fans, an award for his prestige — and potential forthcoming preeminence — is necessary.
The NL Cy Young can and should be his. Let it sink in; it is just a matter of time.