Tuesday, November 1, 2011

RBI (43) Another World Series Champion...

Yup, the World Series may have gone to the Cardinals in 2011, but in 2002 it went to another scrappy wild card team. That would of course be the Angels. A key to the 2011 Cardinals success and the Rangers downfall was an effective bullpen. The Angels had just as effective a bullpen in 2002 with some key role players like setup man extraordinaire Scot Shields.

Taken in the 38th round of the 1997 draft Shields broke into the Majors in 2001 with the Angels. After he joined the bullpen Shields provided a shield of any lead given to him as part of the bridge to the Angel closers. He was a reliable arm for the better part of a decade appearing in various roles as a starter, setup man, long reliever, and starter. In 491 Games with 15 starts he had a career 3.18 ERA to go along with a 46-44 record.

Despite getting a solid 21 Saves as an occasional closer the real magic was his 156 Holds across 697 innings. It's absurd to think about what Shields career record would be had injury not eventually limited his effectiveness at the end of his career given his 6.62 and 5.28 ERA in his last two seasons. Without his ability to maintain leads closers Troy Percival, Francisco Rodriguez, and Brian Fuentes would not have been able to come into so many games to reach the elite level they did during their Angel careers.

Shields was a key part of the Angel championship run and success as American West Champions throughout the decade, with him eventually being recognized by Sports Illustrated as the Setup Man of the Decade. Normally closers get all the glory and recognition, but without a topnotch setup man and relievers, teams can't truly play championship level baseball. Shields is one of the best to play the game, and it really was amazing to watch him work through opposing batters with his two-seamer. It's shocking he was never taken to an All-Star game, but he got the ring he deserved.
I was able to get this Scot Shields autograph through the Angels 50th Anniversary celebration and he was nice enough to sign this Topps 2007 Angels Team Card for me with a "2002 WS Champs" inscription.

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