#46 - SCOT SHIELDS, P
A 38th round pick in the 1997 draft became perhaps the greatest eighth-inning relief pitcher in baseball history. Scot Shields had a rubber arm that was too valuable to place in the starting rotation and so there he was, in the seventh and eighth inning for almost a decade and almost all of it quite stellar. Shields was quick and could mow three batters down before many fans had completed their mid-inning bathroom break.
He made his debut in 2001 and was a fringe contributor to the 2002 squad - last man in the bullpen he had one appearance in the 2002 postseason - the blowout Game 5 loss in San Francisco that put the Giants up three games to two but would turn out to be the final loss of the season for the Angels.
From 2003 thru 2008, though, Shields was a phenomena. In four year span from '03-'06 he had an ERA+ of 154 in two years, a down year of 134 and a peak of 158. After a mediocre 118 ERA+ in 2007 he turned in a 165 ERA+ in 64 IP in 2008. He was a master of the shutdown. One advanced stat called the Leverage Index measures the average pressure a pitcher faces in any given season. In 2005 Shields pitched in 78 games, 59 of which were considered high leverage. He pitched with the lead or a tie in 74 of those games. He had over 30 holds from 2005 thru 2008 and became the primary eighth inning arm in '05 as well.
In the land of rigid roles that was Mike Scioscia's management style, Shields came to be the one who pitched the eighth inning. Even with this being a majority of his appearances, he only allowed a career 30% of inherited runners to score (57 of 193 runners on base when entered the game scored).
His 491 Games Played ranks second most by any Halo arm. Among Angels pitchers with over 500 IP, Scot Shields ranks in the Top 10 of many categories:
His 3.18 ERA, 1.244 WHIP, 7.6 Hits per 9 IP, a K/9 of 8.14 and a 2.27 K/BB rate are all in the franchise top ten.
His groundball tendencies yielded a HR rate of .710 per 9 IP - the ninth lowest in club history. His ERA+ of 139 is second best of all Angels pitchers.
There may be infinite debate about which Angel pitcher you might call in to close out a game were you the manager in a mythical contest allowing you to choose from the club's entire roster, but there is no doubt you would have your SHIELDS UP in the eighth inning of that match.