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.

  1. Eddy says:

    With the O’s?

    Isn’t he still on the Rays, Smokey?

  2. Smokey

    Smokey says:

    @Eddy: Yea i dont know how that got in there to be honest.

  3. Eddy says:


    Most likely the source of his wins.

  4. Broccoli Roberts says:

    “Expect more than a 4.00 ERA and around a 7 K/9 and you’ll get burned.” And that’s me quoting Grey!

  5. sean says:

    I don’t think Shields is all that different from Nolasco. A lot of strikeouts and low walks because they pound the strike zone. A lot of home runs and hits because they pound the strike zone. I guess if you draft him where he is falling, he can’t really disappoint. Hard to imagine much upside though, especially with TB trending down…

  6. Smokey

    Smokey says:

    @Broccoli Roberts: Compared to last year its a big jump. easy servicable number 4.
    @sean: That bullpen will be the death of Price as well i believe.

  7. beetley says:

    Keeper league question: Roto 5×5 14 teams

    Five keepers…keep forever in round they were picked.


    Andrew McCutchen Rd 25
    David Price Rd 7
    Kendry Morales Rd 22
    Pedro Alvarez Rd 11
    Hunter Pence Rd 5

    Over: Brian McCann Rd 4; Cole Hamels Rd 3; Adam Jones Rd 14; Ricky Nolasco Rd 15

    Right choice?


  8. Wilsonian says:

    @Smokey: in an 8 Team H2H Keeper where we keep 5, no draft penalties of any kind, they’re just the first 5 picks for your team, who do you keep:

    Fielder, Utley, Longoria, Wright, Kemp, CarGo, Holliday, Krispie, Stanton, Lincecum, Kershaw, Josh Johnson, Verlander, Hamels?

    Standard 5×5 with the inclusion of hits, OBPS, losses and Ks/9

    Yes, I won the league last season…

    If it’s any consolation, I’m leaning Fielder, Longoria, Wright, Kemp and then one of Utley/CarGo.

  9. Smokey

    Smokey says:

    @beetley: Looks good.
    @Wilsonian: first four are good i would take Cargo over Utley, 2b is very deep and only deeper with 8 teams.

  10. MKEeast says:

    @Wilsonian: Kemp’s upside is probably only a little better than Holliday’s norm. And the norms aren’t close. The only real advantage Kemp has is an edge in stolen bases, but are they going to keep letting him run when he gets thrown out so often?

  11. Wilsonian says:

    @Smokey: cool, thanks man. I also don’t like that Utley is getting older. Plus, knowing my leaguemates, if I threw CarGo back into the draft pool, he’d easily go #1 and Utley will probably last a little while longer if I really wanted to draft him.

  12. Rabbit says:


    So you talk about xFIP in your post so let me ask about something that has been bugging me recently. As I understand it, xFIP takes a pitcher’s FIP and “normalizes” the home runs allowed component of FIP, by applying the league-average HR/FB rate to the pitcher’s stats and adjusting accordingly–so, if Pitcher X (a great name for a pitcher, by the way) allowed 40 HRs last year at his HR/FB rate that was 33% higher than the league-average HR/FB rate, xFIP will adjust that pitcher’s stats to be as if he gave up 30 HRs (if my math is right). The idea behind xFIP, I believe, is that it is thought that a pitcher’s HR/FB rate is, generally speaking, out of the pitcher’s control (like his BABIP), so if he has a higher than average HR/FB rate one year, that rate will likely regress to the mean the next year. (I assume there are exceptions to this idea–some pitchers may be more mistake-prone to throw meatballs than others–but I guess it works generally.)

    But there are other non-pitcher factors that affect one’s HR/FB rate, the most obvious being the ballpark. Shouldn’t a pitcher’s xFIP normalize his FIP by applying his home ballpark’s HR/FB rate rather than the league-wide HR-FB rate? Or to get more accurate, apply a blended rate of 1/2 the pitcher’s home ballpark HR/FB rate and the league-wide rate (to account for the fact that the pitcher will throw about half of his games in other ballparks). Isn’t this a rather simple way to make xFIP more accurate? Do you guys know anyone who has done this?

  13. Wilsonian says:

    @MKEeast: so are you saying keep Holliday over Kemp? What would you do in that scenario, who are your 5?

  14. Smokey

    Smokey says:

    @Rabbit: This seems like a cross between where FIP and xFIP end and begin. I havent seen anyone break it down like ur asking but will look into it a little and get back to you.

  15. Smokey

    Smokey says:

    @Rabbit: After reading and than re reading and than reading it again it makes more sense. This sounds like LIPS which incorporates home and away ballparks. So i would look into that. Hope that helps as you nearly made my head look like that scene from scanners.

  16. Tom Thumb says:

    Who do you guys like better now and in the future: Wade Davis or Brett Cecil?

  17. Rabbit says:

    @Smokey: Sorry my post wasn’t clearer–I was trying not to write too long of a post but because of that I probably condensed down my question too much. I will check out LIPS to see what that’s all about; thanks for the suggestion.

    By way of example to make my question clearer: Let’s say Cole Hamels in 2010 had a FIP of 3.25. (I’m making all numbers up for this example–too lazy to look up the real numbers.) Let’s also say Hamels’ HR/FB rate was 11.0, but the league-wide HR/FB rate was 10.5. Hamels’ xFIP would then be lower than his FIP, because Hamels’ xFIP calculation substitutes the league-wide rate (10.5) for Hamels’ actual rate (11.0), and thus assumes he gave up fewer HRs than he actually did. But let’s also say that Citizens Flank has a HR/FB rate of 11.5 (because it’s a bandbox). In that case, my version of xFIP that uses a pitcher’s home park’s HR/FB rate would actually give Hamels an xFIP that is _higher_ than his FIP–because it would assign Hamels an 11.5 HR/FB rate, and assume he gave up more HRss than he actually did. But II (But Strikes Back), if you use a blended HR/FB rate for Hamels of 1/2 Citizens Flank’s rate and 1/2 the league-wide rate, then Hamels’ FIP and xFIP would be identical, because the blended rate (11.0) would be the same as Hamels’ actual rate.

    OK, that probably didn’t clarify anything. But I had to try.

  18. thegeniusking says:

    I wonder if Miggy falls to the back end of the first round with this DUI, and how close does he have to get to Charlie Sheen threat level before he becomes too risky to take with your tenth pick?

  19. Smokey

    Smokey says:

    @Tom Thumb: Cecil for both

  20. Smokey

    Smokey says:

    @thegeniusking: i think he goes thru some inpatient treatment scenario during spring taring and than has an escort with him ala Josh Hamilton during the season. I could seem falling behind Votto in the fisrt round awfully quick by scared owners.

  21. Tom Thumb says:

    @Smokey: Why Cecil? Just curious…. My feelings on Wade are that I love targeting prospect-pedigree pitchers who have underperformed. His K-Rate last year seemed way out of whack with his MiLB numbers and even his brief 2009 numbers in the Bigs. He gave up more homers last year than he typically does and he seemed to give them up at bad times.

    He doesn’t have quite the stuff that Price has, for example, and thus won’t have the same K-Rates as Price. However, Price’s first full year in the bigs was also a huge adjustment period and he didn’t perform well. Wade’s walks are definitely a problem as well, but I can see that improving. He has not yet developed his secondary stuff to the point where he relies upon them in tough situations, so he overuses his fastball. I read an article somewhere that talked about Wade over-using his fastball when behind in the count in lieu of using breaking pitches to induce a foul ball or groundout. Once he feels more comfortable locating his secondary stuff I think his Ks will go up, his walks will go down and he will also not overuse the fastball in high-leverage situations and stop giving up long balls at bad times.

    Cecil, on the other hand, definitely was under-appreciated as a prospect. He was drafted out of college as a reliever and was converted to a starter due to the fact that he wasn’t a simple 2-pitch reliever. He had a good FB, plus slider and offered a change and curve as well. The added benefit I see over Wade is that he is a better Ground Ball pitcher– is that the prime reason for your preference?

  22. Tom Thumb says:

    Also, RE: Wade’s FB tendencies, he gets a lot of IFFB and I think that Kershaw and Cain have both shown that those type of pitchers can often out-perform their peripherals, and especially, their xFIP.

  23. Smokey

    Smokey says:

    @Tom Thumb: I am more of a fan of GB pitchers. Professional hitters make you pay for not hitting your spots and walks and dingers are a worry. He doesnt have that secondary “wow” pitch that most starters need. His fastball is decent with lots of life. Just watching them pitch and watching there styles of pitching dictates to me that Cecil is the better of the two pitchers. Numbers aside they both play in a wicked division and Cecil is a whole year younger and lefty, which for baseball careers means alot. They both profile to me as #3 starters with the advatage going to Cecil based on future ERA and ability to get the groundball.

  24. Hennessey says:

    Email me if you want in Razzball League #5…one spot left!

    [email protected]

  25. Matt says:

    I have too many keepers and need to give one of these guys up, who would you rather keep?

    Greinke (8th)
    Hanson (21st)

  26. Hennessey says:

    @Hennessey: Filled

  27. carlos marmLOL says:

    @Rabbit great questions and line of thought. didn’t realize xFIP normalized hr rates, i think it’s a useful tool but not universally applicable, perhaps it explains how Nolasco never lives up to his peripheral expectations.

  28. quimmy says:

    Just found out i have the #1 pick in my 15 team 7×7 league. the 2 xtra offensive cats are OBP and TB+BB. Im def taking Pujols 1st overall, but am struggling with my next 2 pick at 30 and 31. Im leaning towards taking Dunn in one of these spots as im sure he will be there and this scoring format suits him big time imo. only issue is i already have a 1B in Pujols and Dunn can only go in my utility slot? Is it a bad idea to walk out of round 3 with 2 firstbaseman, not picking again until 60/61?

  29. Black Beard says:

    iPad users. What looks like a pretty slick new app. Intro price of $4.99 through Spring Training.

  30. RandomItalicizedVoice says:


    You lose flexibility in your draft by filling your UTIL that early. And in a 15 team league…that can really hurt you later, where it’s difficult enough to fill positions. I wouldn’t do it unless it was an unquestionable bargain.

  31. Ray W says:

    Back to Shields: His BABIP numbers have risen for 3 years in a row. That’s some long stretch of bad luck! When a trend continues for that long, I think you have to look to other explanations as well. Shields may be slightly better in 2011 than he was in 2010, but he also may be slightly worse.

  32. quimmy says:

    @voice: thanks dude, that’s exactly what I am worried about. I just hate to let dunn pass me by when he is a top 20 bat in my scoring format.

  33. Smokey

    smokey says:

    @quimmy: good to have a plan but you never know who mat be there at the second turn.
    @Ray W: True but I’m looking at improvements in ERA based on his xFIP number.

  34. sean says:

    @Smokey: @Rabbit: xFIP changes HRs allowed to Flyballs allowed multiplied by league-average HR/FB (10.6%). It doesn’t necessarily account for park factor… I’m hardly a sabermetrician, but I would think that you could adjust the HR/FB rate for the pitcher to the HR/FB rate for the park. Though, again, the whole point of xFIP is to determine the skill level of the actual pitcher.

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