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James Shields

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James Anthony Shields
(Big Game James, Jamie)

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[edit] Biographical Information

James Shields was drafted by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays in the 16th round of the 2000 amateur draft. He was signed by scout Fred Repke and made his pro debut the next summer. He reached the majort leagues with the Devil Rays at the end of May, 2006 and immediately stepped into the starting rotation. Shields was the first pitcher in franchise history to begin his career 4-0. He made 21 starts as a rookie, with a record of 6-8, 4.84. and became one of the most durable starters in the majors beginning in 2007, as he made at least 31 starts and pitched over 200 innings every season since that year. He had a very good 12-8 record for a very poor Devil Rays team in 2007, and when the team suddenly became competitive in 2008, when they became the Tampa Bay Rays, he contributed to the turnaround with a 14-8 season, a 3.56 ERA and an American League-leading 2 shutouts as the team's number 2 starter behind Scott Kazmir. He earned his nickname, "Big Game James", for his many clutch outings that season. He won a game in the ALDS against the Chicago White Sox, and another one over the Phialdelphia Phillies in the World Series, when he tossed 5 2/3 shutout innings in a Game 2 start on October 23rd. It remains the only World Series game ever won by the Rays. He lost both of his starts against the Boston Red Sox in the ALCS, but still pitched well, giving up only 5 earned runs in 13 innings of work for a 3.46 ERA.

Shields hovered around .500 in 2009 and 2010 as Matt Garza and David Price becoming the team's top two starters after Kazmir was traded. he went 11-12, 4.14 the first year and 13-15, 5.18 the second. On August 7, 2010, he tied an American League record by allowing 6 home runs in a 17-11 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays, including the first major league homer by J.P. Arencibia. He started Game 2 of the ALDS against the Texas Rangers that year, but was tagged with a 6-0 loss. In June 2011, he pitched three consecutive complete games, the first Rays pitcher to accomplish such a feat. he was named to the All-Star team that season and finished the year with an excellent record of 16-12, 2.82, leading the AL in both complete games (11) and shutouts (4). However, once again he was beaten by the Rangers in his only postseason start, losing Game 2 of the ALDS, 8-6. He had another solid season in 2012, with a record of 15-10, 3.52. He topped the 200-strikeout mark in both 2011 and 2012, recording 225 and 223 those two years.

On December 9, 2012, he was traded to the Kansas City Royals along with P Wade Davis in return for prospects Wil Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery and Patrick Leonard. He gave the Royals everything they expected in his two seasons with the team. The Royals climbed to respectability in 2013 when he went 13-9, 3.15 in 34 starts, then in 2014, they made it all the way to the World Series, where they lost in 7 games to the San Francisco Giants. Shields went 14-8, 3.21 in 34 starts. He pitched over 220 innings both seasons, including an American League-leading 228 2/3 innings in 2013, and had 196 and 180 strikeouts. He started the 2014 Wild Card Game against the Oakland Athletics , the Royals' first postseason appearance since the 1985 World Series, then won his only start of the ALDS over the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim. He did not pitch as well in his last three postseason starts and was charged with a pair of losses in the World Series, facing Giants ace Madison Bumgarner both times, but it is clear that his imposing presence as the team's ace had been key to getting Kansas City that far.

Shields was much sought-after when he became a free agent following the 2014 season. On February 8, 2015, reports indicated that he had reached a four-year deal with the San Diego Padres. Worth $75 million, it was the biggest contract in Padres history to that point.

[edit] Notable Achievements

  • AL All-Star (2011)
  • AL Complete Games Leader (2011)
  • 2-time AL Shutouts Leader (2008 & 2011)
  • 15 Wins Seasons: 2 (2011 & 2012)
  • 200 Innings Pitched Seasons: 8 (2007-2014)
  • 200 Strikeouts Seasons: 2 (2011 & 2012)

[edit] Further Reading

  • Paul Casella: "10 awesome James Shields stats: Numbers make ace-worthy case for experienced right-hander headed to San Diego", mlb.com, February 9, 2015. [1]
  • Jeffrey Flanagan: "Shields gave Royals what they needed, when they needed it: Right-hander helped change culture on the field and in the clubhouse", mlb.com, February 11, 2015. [2]

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