In the case of pitcher José Fernández, the sentiment is often what could have been.
On this day 10 years ago, the Miami Marlins had the opportunity to celebrate what was. The 21-year-old pitcher from Cuba was named the National League Rookie of the Year.
Fernández was presented the hardware on Nov. 11, 2013. As a rookie, the right-hander finished with a 12-6 record and 2.19 ERA. He finished with 187 strikeouts and a WHIP under one in 172 ⅔ innings.
An All-Star in his first season in the big leagues, Fernández was the unquestioned bright spot for a Marlins team that finished with a record of 62-100. He also finished third behind Clayton Kershaw of the Los Angeles Dodgers and Adam Wainwright of the St. Louis Cardinals in the National League Cy Young Award voting.
Tommy John surgery would limit Fernández to just 19 total starts in 2014 and 2015, but fully healthy, the native of Cuba returned to form in 2016. An All-Star for the second time, Fernández finished 16-8 with a 2.86 ERA in what would be the final season of not only his career, but his life.
Fernández was driving a boat that struck a jetty at Miami Beach on Sept. 25, 2016, killing Fernández and friends Eduardo Rivero and Emilio Jesus Macias. Authorities later determined that Fernández was reckless in his piloting of the vessel and under the influence of cocaine and alcohol.
While Fernández’s actions may have tarnished his reputation to many, his ability and personality brought cheers from the fans and joy to his teammates in South Florida and across the baseball world. He remains the last member of the franchise to win NL Rookie of the Year. Fernández was given that recognition on this day one decade ago.
Photo by Brace Hemmelgarn/Minnesota Twins/Getty Images
Mike Ferguson is a contributor for Fish on First, who covers Miami Marlins history. Follow Mike on Twitter @MikeWFerguson