Major League Baseball held a league-wide moment of silence before games today, and individual players held personalized tributes in honor of Miami Marlins' pitcher Jose Fernandez, who was among the league's most gifted and accomplished young stars.
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Throughout games hosted in Toronto, Tampa Bay, Cleveland, Detroit, and New York, among other cities, players and fans bowed their heads in remembrance of Fernandez, who was one of three men killed in a boating accident that occurred near Miami at around 3:15 a.m., authorities said.
The Miami Dolphins of the NFL also held a moment of silence for Fernandez, who starred for their neighboring team.
Individually, players like Yasiel Puig of the Los Angeles Dodgers, and Yoenis Cespedes of the New York Mets, taped #16 jerseys to the inside of their teams' respective dugouts in honor of Fernandez. Puig and Cespedes, like Fernandez, fled Cuba to play baseball in the U.S.
Fellow Cuban Yasiel Puig hung a Jose Fernandez jersey in the Dodgers dugout ahead of their game today. https://t.co/rdswSaZYbd— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 25, 2016
Hall of Fame pitcher Pedro Martinez, who is now a baseball commentator for TBS, called Fernandez "a better talent than I was," helping to frame for casual fans just how special of a talent Fernandez was, and what kind of future he could have had.
Advanced metrics suggest that Fernandez was not only great, or great for his age at just 24-years-old, but arguably a generational pitching talent.
Since being called up by the Marlins as a 19-year-old player in 2013, only three-time Cy Young award winner Clayton Kershaw (2.00) has a lower Fielding Independent Pitching ratio (FIP) than Fernandez (2.43) during that time, a statistic created to determine a pitcher's Earned Run Average that removes an emphasis on luck, according to Fangraphs.com, a website focused around baseball analytics.
The Mets remember Jose Fernandez by hanging a jersey in their dugout during today's game. pic.twitter.com/E198urNsEQ— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) September 25, 2016
His ratio of strikeouts per nine innings over that stretch of time (11.25) is second only to Japanese-born powerhouse Yu Darvish of the Texas Rangers (11.62), according to Fangraphs.
Kershaw and Darvish were both several years older than Fernandez during his first four seasons, and 2016 demonstrated that the 24-year-old phenom was in the process of taking his game to an entirely different level.
His 2016 his FIP (2.29) was the lowest in all of baseball before his untimely death, and his ratio of strikeouts per nine innings this season (12.49) dominated all other pitchers by an impressive margin.
In terms of Wins Above Replacement (WAR), a statistic created to summarize a player's total contributions to their team, Fernandez's 6.2 ranked the highest of any pitcher in baseball this season, according to Fangraphs.
As a result of these achievements, many commentators speculated that Fernandez had a strong chance to win a posthumous Cy Young award this season, an award that would acknowledge him as the best pitcher in the National League for this season.
Fernandez's last game, a home start on September 20 against the first place Washington Nationals was an absolute gem, and indicative of the kind of talent he possessed as a player.
Fernandez went eight innings for his 16th win of the season, striking out 12, and walking none. He allowed only three hits, two of which were singles.
Teammate Martin Prado, while speaking behalf of the team during a press conference on Sunday, said that Fernandez considered it to be among his best performances as a player.