James Shields and the Short End of the Stick


5-1 (ERA 3.52)  48 SO and 17 walks

That’s the record James Shields had after his first 8 games started in 2012.

We talk all the time on here about how overvalued the “W’ is as a statistic, but unfortunately, the world we live in still hasn’t seemed to consider the ridiculous ways an individual gains a “win” or a “loss.” Michael talked last week about the way Shields’ record seemed “Grienkesque” in the way he’s compiled a 2-3 record despite an ERA of 2.48 with 53 strikeouts and 14 walks

Guess what Shields’ record was after his first 8 games in 2011?

3-1 (ERA – 2.08) 51 SO and 13 walks

There are some conflicting statistics here. Shields’ 2011 and 2013 stats are very similar and yet the discrepancy in record is pretty glaring. 7-1 to 3-5.

However, in the first 8 games of 2012, James had an E.R.A that was actually more than an entire run higher than his current progress. The difference? In 2011 and 2013, Shields was getting an average of 4.125 runs per game from his offense. In 2011, it just worked out that he was on the right side of the fence. In 2012, Shields, though still good, wasn’t anywhere near his current progress. However, his offense was averaging 5.125 runs a game.

All of this to say, I’m kind of bummed out that James has been getting slapped with so many losses. Not because I think anything of the “win,” but because I hear too many people talking about “wins” and “losses” as if they are the one thing that defines a pitcher’s success.

It gives me a headache.

So to all of you people, Shields has had a great start to the year. Don’t be morons. If a pitcher is good, it makes sense that he would probably have more wins than losses when the season ends. If he pitches well and his team provides him any sort of offense, he’s likely to do all right in that department.

However, if his team is struggling offensively (as the Royals have been this season, though it looks like they brought their bats to the game against the Angels last night) then it’s not too unbelievable to see James hang a 3-5 record through the first 8 games of the season.

Just stop acting like his record is important and have faith that the bats will start to pick up and help steer the course of his record back onto the straight and narrow.