Fernandez's case for NL ROY Award airtight
Phenom Marlins hurler rises above Dodgers' Puig, Cards' Miller for league's top rookie
MIAMI -- Putting Jose Fernandez's remarkable rookie season into words does not fully do justice to all the 21-year-old accomplished in 2013.
Fernandez's performance spoke volumes. So did his eye-popping statistics. Toss in the historical significance, and it's easy to make an overwhelming case as to why the Marlins' young ace should be the National League Rookie of the Year.
Admittedly biased, the Marlins believe the choice should be a no-brainer.
"I think anyone who watched the game of baseball last year, and watched Jose pitch every five days, knows how spectacular a young man he is," Marlins president of baseball operations Michael Hill said. "He's the Rookie of the Year in my book, and I'm hopeful the writers agree."
The results of the Baseball Writers' Association of America (BBWAA) NL Rookie of the Year Award will be announced Monday. If the vote goes the way the Marlins anticipate, Fernandez will become the franchise's fourth rookie winner -- joining Dontrelle Willis (2003), Hanley Ramirez ('06) and Chris Coghlan ('09).
Fernandez is a finalist along with Dodgers outfielder Yasiel Puig and Cardinals starter Shelby Miller.
Compared to his competition, Fernandez more than stacks up. Keep in mind, Puig and Miller played for division-winning teams, while Fernandez excelled on a squad that finished 62-100.
Still, in Fernandez's 28 starts, the Marlins were 18-10. Fernandez, who finished 12-6, paced all NL rookies in ERA (2.19), strikeouts (187), batting average against (.182) and WHIP (0.98). He also averaged 9.75 strikeouts per nine innings.
Miller counters at 15-9 with a 3.06 ERA and 169 strikeouts over 173 1/3 innings, compared to 172 2/3 innings for Fernandez.
Puig, who energized the Dodgers, made an impact with his overall game. He posted incredible numbers, batting .319 with 19 homers, 42 RBIs and a slugging percentage of .534. Puigcan run and play defense, and he can awe fans with his power.
But head-to-head, Fernandez beat the Dodgers both times he faced them. Fernandez also had a memorable showdown in Miami against Puig, retiring him three times, including a strikeout.
Puig is a compelling counterpart. But he didn't turn in a rookie season for the ages. Fernandez did.
Baseball insiders and media members contend Fernandez's first year is the best by a rookie pitcher since Dwight Gooden's amazing 1984. That year with the Mets, Gooden was 7-9 with a 2.60 ERA and a league-leading 276 strikeouts.
A case can be made that only Gooden pitched better than Fernandez among rookie starters in the last 29 years. Even Gooden sings Fernandez's praises.
"If he stays healthy, the sky's the limit for him," Gooden said of Fernandez in early September. "He has great stuff. He's only going to get better, and that's the scary part."
Which takes us to another award, the NL Cy Young Award. Fernandez is a finalist for that award, too. But that's a discussion for another day.