The baseball world was rocked on Sunday morning by the terrible news of the death of Miami Marlins’ phenom Jose Fernandez at just 24 years old.
Yes, Rum Bunter is a Pittsburgh Pirates’ website. However, in my opinion, it would be wrong of us to not take a moment to reflect on the biggest news in the baseball world today. That news of course is the death of Jose Fernandez.
Despite being just 24 years old a strong argument could already be made that Fernandez was the best starting pitcher in all of Major League Baseball. Jose Fernandez was well on his way to becoming the greatest player in the history of the Miami Marlins, and one of the best pitchers of all-time. Sadly, this amazing career, and life, has ended way too soon.
Personally, Jose Fernandez was one of my favorite baseball players. Not just because of his immense talent, but also his personality and backstory. There are few people who have been through struggles like Jose Fernandez has, and he came through all of it with a non-stop smile on his face.
Fernandez made his professional debut for the GCL Marlins in 2011 at just the age of 18. And it did not take Fernandez long to take the baseball world by storm. By 2013 Fernandez, at just the age of 20, was in the Major Leagues.
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In 2013 Fernandez was named National League Rookie of the Year after posting a 2.19 ERA, 2.73 FIP, 187 strikeouts, and a 4.1 WAR in 172 2/3 innings pitched. Just like that, Jose Fernandez had arrived as one of the best pitchers in the game. However, his performance on the field is not what Fernandez will be best remembered for.
Jose Fernandez will be remembered for infectious personality and his love for the game. Fernandez was always smiling and loved everything about being a Major League Baseball player. Even though Fernandez would always dominate the Pirates, I loved watching him pitch against the Bucs. Not just because I enjoy watching great pitchers work, but also because watching the enthusiasm and joy he had for the game, as well as his antics in the dugout, would always put a smile on your face.
The story of Jose Fernandez is also unforgettable. It took Fernandez and his family multiple tries to defect to the United States from Cuba. During their trip to the United States, he rescued his mother from drowning. Oh, and all of this came after he was previously arrested for trying to defect.
If you are not teary eyes already, prepare for that to change. Fernandez was able to reach the United States in 2008 when he was 15 years old. In November of 2013 he was reunited with his grandmother for the first time since defecting to the U.S. And you can watch that here.
Arguably the most saddening part of this is that Fernandez was about to become a father for the first time. Now, his future child will never know their father. They will have nothing but video clips and the memories of others to know their father by.
I am someone who is extremely close with my father and could never imagine having to be in that situation. Also, in April I will become a father for the first time and I could not imagine my future child having to grow up without me at their side to help them learn and grow. Jose will be missed by people far and away, but most of all he will be missed by his friends, family, and loved ones.
Jose Fernandez will finish his Major League career with eye popping numbers. In 471 1/3 innings pitched he owns 589 strikeouts, a 2.58 ERA, 2.43 FIP, 2.72 xFIP, and a 13.9 WAR. His 2.43 FIP is the best in the live-ball era of any pitcher with at least 400 innings pitched.
In 2013 when Fernandez was named National League Rookie of the Year, Pirates’ manager Clint Hurdle was the National League Manager of the Year. Due to this they got to know each other well that offseason. Prior to the Pirates’ game with the Nationals today Clint was asked about Jose Fernandez and his infectious personality and his death. This is what the Pirate skipper had to say:
“It’s just sad. It’s so horribly sad on so many different levels that there’ll be no more of that, there’ll be no more of him, there’ll be no more of that emotion on the mound, that skill-set, that human being, that young man with such a gift, such a great smile”
Due to the death of Fernandez the Miami Marlins cancelled their game with the Atlanta Braves on Sunday afternoon. People around the baseball world were rocked by the news of Fernandez’s death. On ESPN this morning analysts such as Buster Olney, Pedro Gomez, and Eduardo Nunez were all, literally, moved to tears when talking about the life and death of Jose Fernandez.
Furthermore, players across the Major Leagues took to Twitter to express their feelings about Fernandez on Sunday:
And then there is Marlins’ second baseman Dee Gordon who was kneeling on the pitcher’s mound at Marlins Park park crying this morning:
With his smile and attitude, Jose Fernandez reminded us something very important. Baseball, and sports in general, are supposed to be fun. If you are not having fun while playing and loving every second of it, you are doing it wrong. This is lesson a lot people need, not just in sports but in life in general.
Jose Fernandez was well on his way to having a Hall of Fame career. But more importantly, he was grade A human being, he loved life, he loved baseball, and he was going to be a father. Some times the world is a cruel, evil place. Today is one of those days. Rest easy, Jose.