The Los Angeles/California/Anaheim Angels have played almost 60 seasons of baseball. As the baseball world is suspended due to circumstances outside its control, it is time to look back at the history of this organization. There have been many talented players to put on the uniform, and we at Crashing the Pearly Gates wish to highlight the best who have ever represented the Angels. Without further ado, here we go!
#43 – Scot Shields
Drafted by the Angels in the 38th round of the 1997 MLB Draft, Scot Shields pitched a decade for the club and spent his whole career here (under one manager!). From 2001 until he retired in 2010, Scot Shields wasn’t the closer or the most well-known reliever out of the pen, but he was the most reliable part of that bullpen for a good portion of that decade.
Relief pitchers who do not close tend to get shafted in the court of public opinion. Baseball writers recognized that and came up with a stat to try to mitigate it: the hold. Although it is a flawed stat, similar to the save, the hold allows middle relief pitchers to rack up some numbers. A hold occurs when a pitcher enters the game in a save situation, doesn’t get the win, and exits with the lead still intact. It is what middle relievers strive to do, keep the game winnable for the guy at the end. And Shields was great at it.
Shields compiled 155 holds in his 10 year career, and he had 4 straight seasons of 31 or more from 2005-2008. That 155 mark is not only the best in Angels history, but it is so by a mile, as Kevin Jepsen is a distant second with 97. And in MLB history, it is 19th best all time. That is pretty amazing, considering how many middle relievers there are.
Mike Scioscia loved roles and he definitely loved to stick with them, which was easy for him when Scot Shields was on the team. Indeed, Scot was seen as more reliable by his manager and the Angels fans than his contemporary K-Rod. His Angels franchise silver medal in ERA+ reflects this at 139.
Being a reliever, accumulation is difficult, even in a ridiculously long 10 year career. Yet Shields did so, placing 23rd on innings pitched, 17th in strikeouts, and 17th in BWAR at 12.2. He even had the same number of wins as Bartolo Colon at 46, tied for 21st all time.
Shields was flat-out nasty. He has the 3rd-most K/9 in Angels history, only behind the Express and Percy. Helps that he is good enough to strikeout 4 in an inning.
Unfortunately, because middle relief wasn’t really appreciated at all until very recently, there is little video of him easily found online. Even the Angels website has only one video of him. That is a ton of disrespect for the best middle reliever in Angels history.
And he started out that way as well, going the entire 2001 season without allowing an earned run, all 11 innings. In 2002 he was dominant, with a 2.2 ERA and an ERA+ of 202. Sure it was in only 49 innings but being twice as good as other pitchers? That is insane! For his best qualifying season in 2003, his 154 ERA+ is 8th best in any season in Angels history. The only pitcher better than him this millennium was peak Weaver.
Shields staying in Anaheim his whole career was a blessing. And yes, while he did struggle his last 2 seasons, he didn’t have the ego to push himself to be the closer or to sign elsewhere for money. That is something the fans noticed and appreciated. (do not read the YouTube comments, seriously). Angels relievers will always be compared to Scot Shields, his longevity, loyalty, and greatness is the benchmark for all that pitch out of the bullpen in Anaheim.