Jose Fernandez has died at age 24, the Marlins confirmed on Sunday morning.
Fernandez and two others were killed in an early-morning boating accident along the coast of Miami beach. Miami-Dade Fire Rescue reportedly received a call concerning a possible accident around 3 a.m. ET. Upon arrival, they found an overturned boat that had crashed into the rocks.
Three bodies were subsequently discovered -- Fernandez's and a pair of his friends, each male and aged in their mid-to-late-20s. There is no indication that drugs or alcohol were involved, per Florida Fish and Wildlife.
Statement from the Miami Marlins organization: pic.twitter.com/6A4Rv6m2g9— Miami Marlins (@Marlins) September 25, 2016
As a result of the tragic news, the Marlins have cancelled Sunday's game against the Braves.
The player's union released the following statement on Fernandez's passing:
As well as MLB commissioner Rob Manfred:
"All of Baseball is shocked and saddened by the sudden passing of Miami Marlins pitcher José Fernández. He was one of our game's great young stars who made a dramatic impact on and off the field since his debut in 2013. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family, the Miami Marlins organization and all of the people he touched in his life."
It's sad whenever a 24-year-old loses their life. That Fernandez brought joy to so many with his talent and personality just compounds the effect.
Fernandez also had an inspiring backstory. He successfully defected from Cuba as a 15-year-old on his fourth attempt -- the three previous tries resulted in prison terms. Fernandez's fourth try included him jumping into the Gulf of Mexico to rescue a fellow defector -- his mother. Nearly six years after Fernandez's defection, he would be reunited with his grandmother in tear-jerking fashion.
Adding to the heartbreaking nature of the news is that Fernandez had recently posted this on his Instagram account -- addressing his pregnant girlfriend, who was not onboard the boat. The Miami Herald has released images of the accident scene.
Obviously Fernandez's on-the-field accomplishments are trivial. However, there is an expectation to present them in some capacity.
Fernandez pitched just two full seasons, having lost most of the 2013-14 campaigns to Tommy John surgery and recovery. He nonetheless used his time wisely, quickly establishing himself as one of the best, most exciting pitchers in baseball.
Fernandez's time missed makes it difficult to compare his raw statistics to his peers. Yet rate metrics confirm that he was one of the most dominant starters of his era. His 150 ERA+ was the second best in baseball among starters from 2013-16 (behind Clayton Kershaw), as was his 2.43 FIP (again trailing Kershaw). Fernandez's strikeout rate was also the second best (Yu Darvish), while his .579 OPS-against was third best (behind Kershaw and Jake Arrieta). By any measure, Fernandez was one of the two or three most productive starters.
Fernandez won the 2013 Rookie of the Year award by posting a 2.18 ERA over 172 innings. He made his first of two All-Star Game appearances that season as well, and finished third in Cy Young voting, behind Clayton Kershaw and Adam Wainwright. That was his age-20 season.
This season marked a triumph for Fernandez, as he returned to a full workload after making 11 high-quality starts in 2015. He showed no rust. Fernandez entered the weekend with the best strikeout rate and most wins (16) of his career.
Fernandez last pitched on Tuesday, throwing eight shutout innings against the Nationals. During that start, he struck out 12 batters, walked none, and yielded just three hits. Fernandez was originally scheduled to start on Sunday, but had his turn in the rotation pushed back to Monday to accommodate Adam Conley's return from the disabled list.