James Shields: Fantasy Take if Pitcher Becomes a Blue Jay?


Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

What if James Shields becomes a Toronto Blue Jay? A few weeks ago, Jon Heyman of CBS Sports suggested that they might be targeting him so it’s a question worth exploring for fantasy owners.

What’s the fantasy baseball impact if Big Game James takes his talents to the Rogers Centre?

There are three primary things I considered when evaluating what a trade to Toronto would mean for James Shields: how would he be effected in terms of run support, would he be more suited to pitch in Rogers Centre or Kauffman Stadium, and would he be better off remaining in the AL Central or moving back to the AL East.

So, let’s take a look.

  • 1) How would he be effected in terms of run support?

The Blue Jays are arguably the best offense in baseball and the Royals are possibly one of the worst offenses in baseball. Naturally one would assume that if Shields were to go there he would get more run support which would then lead to more wins but if we look just a little bit further we see that might not necessarily be the case.

Shields is currently tied for fifth in baseball with eight wins this season, largely because the Royals are averaging 5.00 runs per game when he’s on the mound, the 17th highest average in baseball. If Shields were to get traded to Toronto I’m sure they’d have no problem scoring runs for him, but it’s not like he’s having a hard time finding run support in Kansas City.

  • 2). Is he more suited for Rogers Centre or Kauffman Stadium?

Theoretically, Kauffman Stadium should be a better fit for every pitcher, the walls are deeper in every part of the stadium. Shields defies this logic though.

For his career, Shields has a 4.44 ERA to go with a 1.39 WHIP and 3.24 K/BB ratio at Kauffman Stadium; he has a 4.09 ERA to go with a 1.10 WHIP and 4.69 K/BB ratio at the Rogers Centre. Recently, Shields has been absolutely dominant when pitching in Toronto: he’s made three starts in the Rogers Centre in the last three years and he has a 3-0 record to go with a 0.36 ERA, 0.72 WHIP and 28 strikeouts over 25 innings.

A change in home ballparks, at the very least, isn’t something that should effect Shields negatively.

  • 3). Is he a better fit in the AL Central or the AL East?

In the last three seasons, Shields has had 28 starts against teams in the AL East (not including the Blue Jays) and 33 starts against teams in the AL Central (not including the Royals). Against the AL East, he has a 3.44 ERA to go with a 1.15 WHIP and 164 strikeouts in 198.2 innings. Against the AL Central, he has a 3.55 ERA to go with a 1.33 WHIP and 182 strikeouts in 220.2 innings.

Shields has definitely been better against the AL East than he has been against the AL Central in the past few seasons, and if he gets dealt to the Blue Jays he gets to completely avoid having to face one of the best offenses in all of baseball, and easily the best offense in the AL East.

So, what would a trade to the Blue Jays mean for James Shield’s fantasy owners?

I think a trade to Toronto would be a good thing for James Shields and his fantasy owners, but I don’t think it’s a drastic improvement. Shields was drafted in the pre-season as a top-30 pitcher, he’s pitched like a top-30 pitcher so far this season and I believe he’s going to finish the season as a top-30 pitcher whether he’s in Kansas City or Toronto.