Six weeks after the funeral of baseball star Jose Fernandez, Major League Baseball announced that the late Miami Marlins pitcher was voted the National League’s 2016 Comeback Player of the Year by his peers. The Major League Baseball Players Association held its award ceremony earlier this week and Fernandez was among the winners. Baltimore Orioles outfielder Mark Trumbo won the award in the American League.
Voting took place in the middle of September, which means the vote was not influenced by the tragic death of Fernandez.
So why did Fernandez win the award? In 2014, the then-22-year-old pitcher had his season cut short by an elbow injury. He then sat out most of the 2015 season while he recovered from Tommy John surgery on his elbow. He returned to his first full season in 2016, where he posted a 16-8 record, struck out 253 batters and maintained an ERA of 2.86.
Miami Marlins president of baseball operations Mike Hill told USA Today it’s still difficult to believe Fernandez is gone: “That reality is hard to come to grips with because of how tremendously talented he was, and what he meant to our community.”