Fernandez best since Gooden

Jose Fernandez is the best 20-year-old pitcher in a generation

Updated: August 10, 2013, 9:24 AM ET
By Dave Cameron | ESPN Insider

Back in 1981, the Dodgers had a young pitcher named Fernando Valenzuela, who began the season as part of the team's rotation despite being just 20 years old. He proceeded to take the sport by storm. Despite being an untested rookie, he led the majors in innings pitched, complete games, shutouts and strikeouts. He was an All-Star, won rookie of the year and the Cy Young Award while finishing fifth in the MVP race. The hysteria around him grew so large that it earned the nickname "Fernandomania."

Now, 32 years later, it's happening again; but because of the anonymity of the 2013 Marlins, it's happening in relative obscurity. Their young ace, Jose Fernandez, deserves a bright spotlight, because he's having a better age-20 season than Fernando Valenzuela did in 1981. In fact, when we look at 20-year-old pitchers over the last 50 years, Fernandez's 2013 season is near the very top.