James Shields: Royals Ace

Oh macarena - Kim Klement-US PRESSWIRE

Dayton got his man.

James Shields is now a Royal. He easily moves in as the top starting pitcher on the staff. Here is a quick and dirty breakdown of him.

Right-Handed Pitcher
Age: 31

Drafted in the 16th round in 2000

2013: $9M
2014: $13M with $1M Buyout

Yearly stats:

2006 24 1.08 9.39 26.6% 0.9 2.5% 0.4 0.343 2.64 2.14
2006 24 1.44 7.51 19.3% 10.3% 2.7 7.0% 1.3 42.7% 0.328 4.84 4.39 3.99 4.14
2007 25 1.11 7.7 21.1% 10.6% 1.5 4.1% 1.2 43.4% 0.282 3.85 3.86 3.65 3.60
2008 26 1.15 6.7 18.2% 9.6% 1.7 4.6% 1.0 46.3% 0.287 3.56 3.82 3.87 3.81
2009 27 1.32 6.84 18.0% 9.8% 2.1 5.6% 1.2 42.3% 0.308 4.14 4.02 3.85 3.98
2010 28 1.46 8.28 20.8% 9.5% 2.3 5.7% 1.5 41.3% 0.341 5.18 4.24 3.55 3.57
2011 29 1.04 8.12 23.1% 10.7% 2.4 6.7% 0.9 46.2% 0.258 2.82 3.42 3.25 3.29
2012 30 1.17 8.82 23.6% 10.9% 2.3 6.1% 1.0 52.3% 0.292 3.52 3.47 3.24 3.19

As a whole, Shields is a good pitcher. He strikes out quite a few batters and walks just a few. Over the past 4 years, he is 4th in IP, 39th in ERA (3.85), 19th in WAR (15) in the majors (min 500 IP). Most of his value is from being durable good pitcher.

Looking at his splits, a couple of notes.

1. He seems to be able to handle both right and left-handed hitters equally (career numbers).

vs. LHH: 3.87 FIP, .291 BABIP
vs RHH: 3.81 FIIP, .305 BABIP

2. He really struggled on the road

Home: 3.33 ERA, 3.37 FIP, 22% K%, 5% BB%, 0.9 HR/9, .296 BABIP
Away: 4.53 ERA, 4.38 FIP, 19% K%, 6% BB%, 1.4 HR/9, .299 BABIP

His real problem is the number of HR he gives up on the road. Shields' results are better at home and he should see similar stats pitching half the time at K with the chance of fewer strikes.

Park factors (100 is league average, more than 100 means the stat is more common at the stadium. Data from statcorner.com)

Kansas City
HR (LH/RH): 87/90
K: 92/91

Tampa Bay
HR: 85/91
K: 104/103

The HR factor will be the same, but James will likely see a drop in strikeouts.


In 2012, he threw 6 different pitches

Pitch, Average Speed, % Used
4- seam Fastball: 92 MPH, 21%
2-Seam Fastball: 92 MPH, 13%
Cut Fastball: 88 MPH, 6%
Slider: 86 MPH, 15%
Curveball: 78 MPH, 18%
Change Up: 83 MPH, 28%

His change is considered to be his best/out pitch.

Here is how he uses each pitch depending on the count:


The only time he really ever uses his fastball is when he is behind in the count.

Fastball speed:


He has been pretty consistent in his speed with a ~1 MPH increase over the past season.

Injury History

James has never been on the DL in his career. Ever. Don't get your hopes up too high as there is some concerns that he may have some possible injury issues. In 2012, he saw his Zone% drop to 45%. The 2012 value was the first time his Zone% has ever dropped below 50%. From some previous research, I found that pitchers that had their Zone% below 47% had a 50% of ending up on the DL during the season.

Shields saw his Zone% drop more and more as the season went on. He seemed to have more and more issues get the ball over the plate


Besides, being less and less able to throw strikes, his Injury Index, which looks at the ability of a pitcher to consistently throw strikes late in game, was high throughout the season. (1 = high chance of being injured, 0 = low chance of being injured)


The main cause for the high factor was an inability to maintain a consistent release point. Here is his release points from the 4th inning and on from his last 2012 game.


His release point varied by over 2 feet at the end of the game.


Historically, Shields has been a consistent workhorse who get most of his value by striking a decent number of batters and limiting walks. He has had some problems pitching on the road, but the K will play close to his previous park. Finally, his best trait, his health, may finally be deteriorating and he looks to be a possible injury risk.

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