In seven MLB seasons, James Shields has been perceived as both one of the games best pitchers; but for one year, he was also one of the worst.
Although Shields was not perfect the Tampa Bay Rays, it appears he became a different pitcher since after a career season in 2011 which earned him third place in Cy Young voting.
In 2013, Shields will be pitching for the Kansas City Royals as the team gave up a plethora of prospects to get the ace in December. In my mind, Shields is a much-needed losing-streak-stopper for a team that hasn’t reached the playoffs since 1985.
Shields led the league in hits allowed, earned runs allowed and yielded a league-high 34 home runs in 2010–luckily for Shields, the Rays brought him back in 2012. A year later, Shields rebounded like none other, with a league-high 11 complete games and four shutouts to go with a 2.82 ERA and 16 wins.
So which season is the fluke and which one is the norm?
Perhaps Shields really has turned the corner as in 2012 he put up the numbers of an ace, with 15 wins a 3.52 ERA and 223 strikeouts for a Rays team that barely missed the playoffs. His 2010 campaign may raise flags for Royals’ faithful however, in a tough AL East division, Shields has put up numbers that would dazzle any GM.
While I can’t guarantee that Shields will have double-digit shutouts in 2013 I can say with confidence that he will pitch in at least 30 games, as he has done that each of the last seven seasons. He also knows how to get guys out, compiling 448 K’s in the last two seasons combined.