Numbers Can't Quantify Jose Fernandez's Greatness
Jose Fernandez was a superstar -- a star immeasurable by talent or heart.
José Fernández: A legacy of pure joy pic.twitter.com/M2gdCzB2p0
— MLB (@MLB) September 26, 2016
He brought fans to the seats and joy to the game in a way that few others could. He was one of the most talented pitchers in Major League Baseball, and he showcased that talent every single start with his trademark smile. He loved baseball more than you and I love our jobs, and he made baseball so fun to watch every time he took the field.
I hope someday anything makes me this happy pic.twitter.com/rbPDJoIMsc
— Adam Peterson (@playerTBNL) September 25, 2016
Fernandez was beloved by all who knew him off the field, and immensely respected by those whom he faced on the field. He blended his intense passion for the game of baseball with his unique talent -- and made it look easy.
This remains my favorite Jose Fernandez GIF. pic.twitter.com/A02TUUj8Lu
— Dan Szymborski (@DSzymborski) September 25, 2016
For those unfamiliar with Fernandez's journey, he attempted to defect from Cuba on four separate occasions, succeeding only after three failed attempts and a jail sentence. Fernandez carried his Cuban heritage with him everywhere he went. He was a proud individual, one who could not wait to experience all that the United States had to offer.
And, yet, despite his zeal and hope, one of the truest displays of the type of person he was came from a rocky night at sea on his final trip from Cuba to Mexico. At the age of 15, Fernandez selflessly risked his own life to save a fellow defector who fell out of his boat in the middle of the night. And, unbeknownst to him, that person turned out to be his mother.
Fernandez grew accustomed to defying the odds.
He had a huge heart and wanted everyone to experience the happiness that he felt. Fernandez was very involved with the childhood cancer foundation Live Like Bella, and before every Sunday home game, he invited Miami-area children to hang out with him on the field and in the dugout.
He embodied the American dream, bringing hope to an entire country. His relationship with his grandmother was one of the most heartwarming bonds one can witness.
José Fernández had an incomparable bond with his grandmother. pic.twitter.com/wJh11v4BHM
— MLB (@MLB) September 25, 2016
Fernandez was a superstar, a star immeasurable by talent or heart.
And supremely self-confident, Fernandez was seemingly on the fast track to a Hall of Fame career.
In 76 career starts, Fernandez tallied a 38-17 record, a 2.58 ERA, a 1.054 WHIP, and averaged 11.2 strikeouts per nine innings.
For context, he struck out 31.2 percent of all batters he ever faced. No starting pitcher in Major League history recorded strikeouts at a higher rate. His 34.3% strikeout rate this year is the fifth-highest single-season mark of all time and the highest by anybody not named Pedro Martinez or Randy Johnson.
Fernandez was also first all-time in Fielding Independent Pitching (FIP), edging out Clayton Kershaw and Sandy Koufax. And Kershaw and Pedro Martinez are the only two pitchers in history with more Wins Above Replacement (WAR) per innings pitched.
But today, his accomplishments are relatively inconsequential for those who mourn the loss of Fernandez, the person.
The entire Marlins team is here at the press conference. #RIPJoseFernandez pic.twitter.com/xRMrhZMpsj
— Mike Cugno (@MikeCugnoCBS4) September 25, 2016
Fernandez just turned 24 years old. He had just announced that his girlfriend is pregnant and that he was a father-to-be, and this is the most tragic part.
For many of us, sports act as an escape from reality. We watch for enjoyment, but it's rare that we are able to form emotional connections with people we've never met.
Yet Jose Fernandez was that type of person for which such connections came naturally.
In a time of such tragedy, we should come together and appreciate the infectious joy that he brought to the mound and the stadium every fifth day.
We are stunned and devastated by the tragic news that Jose Fernandez, 24, has died in a boating accident. https://t.co/QIBcnIYJ1i pic.twitter.com/SDZoL6NMEb
— MLB (@MLB) September 25, 2016
Rest in peace, Jose.