Chicks dig ‘em, fans love to throw ’em back and pitchers despise them. Home runs kill a pitcher and can make his numbers, that would normally be decent and fun around children, look ugly and sad. James Shields was killed last year. He looked like the starting pitcher versus the “Gas-House Gorillas” only he didn’t have a rabbit in his bullpen (which was actually pretty decent). All told the average fan looks at wins and ERA, which were 13 and 5.18 for Shields. The more engaged fan looks at K/BB and BABIP, 3.67 and an ugly .354 avg. There is more here than meets the eye. He actually pitched decent besides getting round tripped more often than an ExpressJet. His xFIP number shows that he pitched better than his other numbers indicate.
His ERA 5.18 was a +.1.11 from the league average which says to me that the league ERA was high to begin with. His xFIP number was 3.72, which if you do some math from the previous is -.35 from the league average ERA. So when you factor in the average fly ball rate/HR of the league to his stats it shows that he was punished by the long ball. I’m not saying that the only reason he was fantasy excrement last year was only because he gave up too many homers. He gave up way too many hits too. His WHIP was 1.46. He should be pitching for the Pirates with that kind of number. I still think he is worthy of a mid-teen draft pick as a 3-4th starter. He still struckout 187 batters last year. If those hold, the ratios should get better. The wins can’t be counted on and, even with the Rays, I wouldn’t expect more than 13 wins even if the other numbers improve.