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Scot Shields, Master of his Domain

We got word the other day that Scot Shields is likely to retire after the season, which shouldn’t be a shock due to his poor performance this year. Shields has an ERA of 5.28 this year, and his FIP is even higher. It’s not a good way for the 34-year old to wind down his career, but this isn’t how we should be remembering him.

How many of you considered Scot Shields to be a dominant fantasy player during his peak? Don’t be shy, raise your hands. I’m not going to lie, I’m sitting here at my desk waiving my hand in the air (like I just don’t care!).

Shields was a player who had one skill that no one else seemed to be able to master: holds. That’s right, Shields was able to lock down the holds category for your squad, something that no one else was doing on a consistent basis (as I will show later). But not only did he give you a bucket of holds, he was a dominant reliever who would rack up other numbers for your team.

Some of us fantasy “gurus” preach the value of setup men, even in leagues where holds don’t count. You’ve heard it before, but setup men with high strikeout rates are extremely valuable because they will help your ERA and WHIP, and give you the occasional save. Shields was the epitome of this strategy, because he would pitch in 60+ games every year, and could really rack up the K’s.

But, back to that holds thing. Holds is a very volatile category, because players who rack up a lot of holds can often times move into the closer’s role shortly thereafter. Not many players have the ability to stay atop the leaderboards for so long while the rest of the leaders change, but that was Shields. From 2005-2008, Shields was the only player to have at least 30 holds in multiple seasons, let alone do it every year. I’d be willing to guarantee that he’s the only player doing that in any category.

Remember Shields as the dominant player that he once was, not the laughing stock he is today.