Kansas City Royals starting pitcher James Shields (33) Mandatory Credit: John Rieger-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Royals Player Profile: James Shields


 

Kansas City Royals pitcher James Shields (33) Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

 

The Kansas City Royals are coming off their best season since 1989, and are looking to improve on their 86 wins in 2013. Going forward, we are going to take a closer look at the players that should play significant roles for the Royals in 2014, as they try to make their first post season appearance since winning the World Series in 1985.

If you want to read the other completed profiles, just click here. This link will be updated as we add more profiles over the upcoming weeks.

Up next: starting pitcher James Shields.

The acquisition of James Shields from the Tampa Bay Rays in December, 2012 for Wil Myers is still controversial, and probably will remain so, even if Shields leads the team to the playoffs this season.

Myers won the 2013 AL Rookie of the Year, preforming just how Royals fans always dreamed he would. Unfortunately, it wasn’t for Kansas City.

James Shields, on the other hand, was everything the Royals needed him to be. He was the team leader on and off the mound. He performed with a tough mentality on the mound, and was an exemplary leader from the dugout.

Statistically, he was what the Royals needed. He put up his 2nd highest career innings pitched (228.2), his second lowest career ERA (3.15), and his third highest strikeout total (196).

Now, in 2014, the Royals need him to at least match those numbers. There is no Ervin Santana behind him, and he will need to be even better. There is some room for improvement, especially by reducing his walks. He set a career high, issuing 68, which bumped his WHIP up a bit to 1.238.

We all know this will be James Shields’ last season in Kansas City. Rumor was he will be asking for a contract similar to that of Zack Greinke (6 years, $147 million). At 33 years old, there is little chance Shields will find too many teams lining up to play that price, regardless of how good he is this year.

If he lands that big of a contract, that means he had a terrific 2014 season, and most likely led the Royals to a post season berth.

It would great if the Royals could have reached an agreement with Shields, but there is no way they could commit anywhere near that many years or dollars to a pitcher his age with that many miles on his arm.

I still think trading for Shields was a move Moore had to take. It would take a lot of convincing to make me believe the Royals win 86 games in 2013 with Myers instead of Shields.

This being said, if the Royals don’t make the playoffs this season, and Shields leaves, and if Wade Davis is no more than a middle reliever, and if Wil Myers turns into a star, it becomes harder and harder to defend the trade.

Yes, the Royals were much more competitive last season, especially from a pitching standpoint, but they would have still not made the playoffs without Shields. Unfortunately, he can’t pitch every other day.

Shields does not shy away from the duties of a staff ace. He seems to embrace it, which is admirable. He is a legitimate top notch pitcher in whom you can have confidence in matching up against the other aces in the league. The thing is, he needs help.

The hope is the collective efforts of the other four starters this season can out produce the collective efforts of the other four starters from a year ago. The Royals will also need youngster Yordano Ventura to be at least the beginning of a staff ace.

Hopefully, Shields can influence the rest of the staff by the example he sets on the mound.

This is James Shields last year as a Kansas City Royal. Let’s hope he can carry this team in the playoffs. Enjoy watching a true professional go about his craft. It’s fun to watch!

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