The first of the accolades for the 2013 regular season were handed out on Monday night, and when the dust settled, a pair of youngsters had been handed Rookie of the Year honors in their respective leagues. In the American League, it was virtually a no doubter with Wil Myers taking home the hardware.
As it would turn out, the state of Florida would be representing twice on Monday evening, with Miami Marlins pitcher Jose Fernandez taking home National League Rookie of the Year honors. While it may come as a surprise, given the presence of a gentleman like Yasiel Puig in the race, it was a much deserved honor for the young hurler.
Puig was an exciting player to watch in 2013, there’s no doubt about it. He’s one of the very best athletes in the game, and had several outstanding moments, quickly becoming one of the most polarizing players in the game. You could make a case for him not only as the NL Rookie of the Year, but as the Most Valuable Player in the NL as well, though you’d be harder pressed to make a case for the latter.
The issue here isn’t whether or not Puig deserved the honor. He may have. However, there’s absolutely no doubt that Fernandez was deserving of the hardware he took home. A rare bright spot for a Miami Marlins team that was as pitiful as expected, he made an unprecedented jump to the bigs in 2013, and flat out dominated.
Fernandez made the team as a 20-year-old out of spring training, having never thrown a pitch above High-A. In fact, the 2013 campaign was just his second professional season. He went on to post some of the best numbers of any rookie in the history game. He pitched to a 2.19 ERA and a 2.73 FIP, striking out nearly 10 hitters per nine and walking barely over three.
Even more impressive for Fernandez, he attacked left-handed hitters in the same, if not a more aggressive, fashion than when he went up against righties. Lefties hit just .181 off of him, compared to .177 against right-handers, with an almost dead even split between the two in the number of strikeouts (93 vs. lefties, 94 vs. righties).
Taking it all into consideration, the performance, the lack of experience coming into the season, and the overly impressive splits, there’s absolutely no doubt that Fernandez deserved the award. Had it not been for Clayton Kershaw, and an impressive year from Matt Harvey prior to his injury, he’d garner serious Cy Young consideration. He may do so anyway. There may very well be an argument to be made in favor of Puig, but considering what Fernandez accomplished in 2013, it’s hard to argue against him as the National League Rookie of the Year.