James Shields

Born: 12/20/1981 (Age: 32)
Bats: Right Throws: Right
Height: 6-3 Weight: 215

Repeats very well; exaggerated hip turn; shows batter full numbers; high lead front arm; head whack; keeps fingers on top of ball; powerful lower half; can fall off mound toward 1B side; good athlete. From stretch: starts normally, brings hands up high and around, while peaking toward 1B. Sets high. 1.25-1.35 to plate.

Evaluator Jordan Gorosh
Report Date 10/19/2014
Arm Angle
Windup Full
Rubber Middle/1B
Present Role Years expected to
perform at current level
70; Low No. 1; High No. 2 2-3 High No. 2 starter; will re-define himself as a two-seam/cutter pitcher later in the career; changeup will allow him to stay successful; strikeout numbers beginning to decline, command taking step forward.

Pitch Type Present Grade Sitting Velocity Peak Velocity Report
Fastball 60 91-94 96 Commands to all quadrants of the zone; works the outer third of the plate, and inside, off the plate to RHH, mostly away from LHH; can add and subtract velocity based on situation; often tries to get ahead with four-seamer early in the count; attacks hitters with the pitch; uses inside part of the plate when ahead in count; won't use as often when ahead, especially to LHH; good plane on two-seamer; uses fastball less the third time through the order and later.

Two-seam: 13.02% usage; .258/.356; 4.66% whiff
Four-seam: 28.18% usage; .285/.488; 6.03% whiff

Cutter 60 87-89 91 Loose wrist; darting action low and away from RHH; tight, short break; can use as a set-up offering; may flatten out when up; induces weak contact when located correctly; works inside to LHH and away from RHH; target is typically catcher's right shin guard; used at beginning of sequence to get ahead or force batter to hit a ground ball; has propensity to fall in love with the pitch; uses more frequently on RHH.

25% usage; .271/.413; 10.46% whiff

Changeup 70 84-87 88 Outstanding arm speed and deception; prefers to throw to LHH, will also use on RHH; fading and tumbling action with arm-side drop; acts like a forkball; bat-missing offering, very difficult to square; will work backwards when deeper in count; rarely starts hitters off with the pitch; flashes 80, can be an elite offering; money pitch; bread and butter; primarily thrown with two strikes, especially to LHH; uses to get strike outs.

22.2% usage; .236/.370; 18.6% whiff

Knuckle curveball 50 79-82 84 Downward action, 1-7; can flatten out, stay up; shallow break; backfoots it to LHH, down and away from RHH; 'show-me' offering; keeps hitters off balance; gives them a different look; doesn't attack or use to get outs; will throw in the middle of a sequence, or ahead of LHH; uses pitch more as the game goes on.

12% usage; .219/.323; 15.99% whiff

Pitch Usage*
vs LHH vs RHH
Usage 24.96% 24.76% 20.86% 14.81% 14.61% 31.68% 28.33% 18.35% 11.95% 9.68%
Strike 62.63% 66.05% 71.25% 62.98% 58.25% 66.04% 70.46% 63.19% 59.50% 59.88%
Swing / Miss 13.35% 5.38% 10.07% 3.11% 14.04% 6.79% 10.55% 22.15% 6.00% 19.75%

* Only showing top 5 pitches by pitch count. Stats are for the 2014 season


Looks to get ahead; relies on hard stuff early in the count, softer offerings as it gets later in the sequence; will work both sides of the plate and keeps the ball low; can be a bat-misser or barrel-misser depending on outing; attacks hitters, shows no fear, never gives in; willing to challenge; changeup is his pacifier.


Stays within himself; moment never too big; shows emotion after big outs or pitches, especially late in games; type of pitcher you want on the mound in high leverage situation; very good teammate, leader in the clubhouse.


Works ball down in zone; keeps hitters guessing; commands to both sides of the plate; throws any of his offerings for strikes; sequences well; has double-plus out-pitch, which plays up to elite at times; avoids middle of the plate; misses barrels; limits walks; quick feet on pickoff move; keeps runners close; halts running game; difficult on LHH; numbers hold late into games.


Can become cutter-happy; cutter and slider can stay in same velo band; change may flatten if he overthrows it; fastball is true, and will occasionally miss over heart of the plate when challenging; homer-prone with harder offerings; hubris can work against him.

Means of Exploitation

Threw 63% first pitch strikes in 2014, so attack early in the count, before he can get to the change up; is 55+ percent likely to throw a fastball on the first pitch of the at bat; look for fastball that's elevated, out over the plate; try to foul off change up with two strikes.


Will command $19-22 million and could see four years with an option for a fifth. Shields is a top of the rotation starter that should age well and is not dependent on velocity while pitching with guile and brains. He can win games in the low-90s with cut and sink, in addition to his excellent changeup. Shields is a fearless pitcher who will throw upwards of 200 innings annually.

Thank you for reading

This is a free article. If you enjoyed it, consider subscribing to Baseball Prospectus. Subscriptions support ongoing public baseball research and analysis in an increasingly proprietary environment.

Subscribe now
You need to be logged in to comment. Login or Subscribe
I know that there's a key around here somewhere but can anyone tell me what these slash lines are?

***Two-seam: 13.02% usage; .258/.356; 4.66% whiff
Four-seam: 28.18% usage; .285/.488; 6.03% whiff***

Average/slugging % against
Thanks. I didn't realize they hit his four seamer that hard. You don't really want anyone slugging .488 against any of your pitches I'd think.