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"Big Underrated" James

Perception is big in baseball. Perception can win you awards which later on can turn into a big pay day. In the case of pitchers, “wins” can really sway a person’s perception in a positive or negative way. We all know that a pitchers win total is in no way a true measure of his value, but to the majority of baseball fans and media…wins is still king.

Right here in the Bay Area we’ve seen that case with Edwin Jackson. 14 wins, YES! The guy has turned the corner, he is a stud, 14 WINS!!!!!! Luckily, we are smarter than that . Andrew Friedman is smarter than that and he sent Edwin “14 Wins” Jackson to Detroit at his peak value. But to most people Edwin Jackson and his 14 wins is just as valuable fellow 14 game winner James Shields. I mean come on, baseball is all about wins and losses and they had the same amount of wins.

A lot of people criticized Shields this post season because of the moniker “Big Game James.” What has James Shields done? How is he “Big Game James?” The guy has only 32 career wins. He is a good pitcher, but not that good. Turn on ESPN or go read a few other national media outlets and the perception is Scott Kazmir is the ace of the staff and Shields is a nice Robin to his Batman.

But what if Shields would’ve been a 20 game winner? Keep the peripherals the same and just give him a 20-8 record instead of 14-8 and what would his perception be? Probably a Cy Young winner. 

Let’s go to the chart

 

Pitcher A

Shields 08

ERA

3.48

3.56

K/9

6.35

6.7

BB/9

1.74

1.67

K/BB

3.65

4.00

HR/9

1.05

1.00

WHIP

1.16

1.15

FIP

3.75

3.82

tRA*

4.42

4.09

Shields is your winner. He beats pitcher A in every category besides ERA and FIP and even then both are less than .10 difference.  So what is the big difference? Why did pitcher A win a Cy Young in that same season? Wins, of course. Pitcher A is 21 game winner, Bartolo Colon in 2005. Now we know there is no way he should’ve won the award over Johan Santana, but he did and he will forever be known as a former Cy Young winner.

Like Colon, James Shields didn’t deserve a Cy Young award in 2008, but the fact that he wasn’t even considered or didn’t even get one vote is pretty unbelievable. Just three years ago those same peripherals that Shields had were good enough if not better to win the award in the voters eyes. Shields was the best pitcher on the best team in the American League all season and stands a chance to do the same next season and nobody really noticed. We all know about James Shields, my hope is the rest of the baseball world will also before it’s too late.