The Miami Marlins may have the best rookie in the National League on display.
Jose Fernandez is getting potential Rookie of the Year voters ready for his close-up after winning the National League Rookie of the Month award for the second consecutive time this season. Fernandez's dominant August was good enough to seal the deal for the second time in a row, as he won the award in July as well. This August, Fernandez started six games and boasted a 1.15 ERA and 1.78 FIP in 39 innings pitched. He had one stellar performance among the starts, having struck out a career-best 14 batters in his first start in the month. That performance was good enough to earn him potential Top Pitching Performance honors for the month as well.
Fernandez's numbers were truly ridiculous for the month. He struck out 49 batters, a rate of 32.5 percent of batters faced this month. His total strikeouts were best in the National League and second only to Yu Darvish overall. It is actually the second month in which he has surpassed a 30 percent mark on strikeout rate, having whiffed 30.5 percent of hitters last month.
His ERA for the month is third in the majors behind only fellow rookie Alex Wood and Clayton Kershaw. When you are on a list with Clayton Kershaw in terms of top performances, you are doing something right. Fernandez was also tied with Matt Harvey for the best FIP for the month at 1.78. It led to him having racked up the most Wins Above Replacement (WAR) among starting pitchers for the month, at 1.5 wins according to FanGraphs.
Fernandez has also been able to do all this despite dropping his walk rate in each of the last two months. In August he hit a career-low 7.3 percent walk rate, having allowed just 11 free passes for the month, two intentional. As scary as it seems, every aspect of Fernandez's game appears to only be improving as the season goes along, which should get the rest of Major League Baseball quaking in their collective boots. Fernandez has improved over the course of the year and, over the last two months, has been one of the best, if not the best, pitcher in baseball.
Fernandez being handed this award for the second time in a row fuels more of the fire regarding his Rookie of the Year candidacy. Fellow candidate Yasiel Puig is holding steady with an amazing .350/.409/.562 (.425 wOBA) batting line, as he rather quietly hit .320/.405/.515 (.388 wOBA) this month. While he continues to impress, the off-the-field shenanigans and issues have, rightly or wrongly, come up more often this past month, making him the supposed "poor character" candidate for the award. With Fernandez earning yet another rookie award over Puig and his occasional off-the-field antics earning media scorn, it is possible voters may turn to the "safer" candidate in Fernandez by season's end.
Of course, Fernandez only has two more starts in September, making it hard for him to establish himself and hold his possible lead in the race. But winning this latest award can only help his end-of-season award cause.