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James Shields vs. John Smoltz At Age 26

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Aside from being right handed and about 6'4, 220 lbs there aren't many similarities between James Shields and John Smoltz. Shields is predominately a fastball/changeup pitcher, while Smoltz has built a hall of fame resume on a fastball/slider combo. Smoltz is the harder thrower and even in his advanced age is still about 2 MPH better than Shields. So where is the comparison? While doing research for our guide, I stumbled across the comparison. If you look at the two during the season in which they were 26 years old, you'll see very similar results.

Age 26

Shields

Smoltz

FIP

3.82

3.81

ERA

3.56

3.62

K/9

6.7

7.68

BB/9

1.67

3.69

K/BB

4

2.08

HR/9

1

0.85

Wins

14

15

It's not as close as my Sonnanstine/Radke comparison, but for them to be this close at the same age is pretty good. The wins are pretty much the same, although we all know about the value of one's W-L record. The FIP's and ERA's are almost identical and the HR/9's are within 0.15. The biggest disparity is control and that happens to fall in Shields's favor. While Smoltz is almost a strikeout better per nine, Shields is a full two walks less per nine which gives him a 4:2 K/BB advantage. Since the age of 26. Smotlz  been one of the games best pitchers including a CY Young award and an average FIP of 2.81 as a starter. While nobody expects Shields to be quite that good, it's nice to see that at the same age he was on par with one of the best pitchers of the last 20 years.