Originally posted on Baseball Prospectus  |  Last updated 3/8/12
1. James Shields Baseball announcers love the cliché, “Well, things tend to even out.” In the parlance of our time, when you come off a great season, we call that a regression. That’s likely to be the case with the Rays' James Shields. Last year, Shields posted a top-three Cy Young finish, throwing more innings than any other pitcher in baseball not named Justin Verlander, and completing 11 games, the most by a starter since Scott Erickson in 1998. In a lot of ways, last year was Shields own “evening it out.” While he induced more ground balls last season than in a miserable 2010 (5.18 ERA, led AL in hits, earned runs, and homers allowed) his K/9 rate, BB/9 rate, and even his HR/FB rates were all in line with that train wreck. The truth should lie somewhere in the middle on Shields. Barring injury, he is a mortal lock for 200 innings, something he’s done in each of the last five years. The 30 year old will likely give up a few more hits and see his ERA settle around 3.50, three-quarters
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