Holiday Mailbag: The Five ToolsBy
Dan asks: Could you write a piece on how many of the classic five tools each player on the roster really has? Sure to generate conversation.
The five traditional tools are the ability to hit for average, hit for power, run, throw, and field. I’m no scout and won’t dare slap 20-80 grades on players, so I’m going to stick to three “scoring” categories: average, above-average, and below-average. Those are simple enough and I think most fans can dish those out. I am going to stick to 40-man roster players who have appeared in the big leagues, giving us 13 players…
I consider only two players to be above-average at four of the five tools: Cano (lacking run) and Ichiro (lacking power). I think you can make an argument that Ichiro’s arm only plays as average because he takes forever to actually throw the damn thing, but he does have a reputation and that alone prevents runners from taking the extra base. Teixeira is probably the next closest to four above-average tools, but he’ll need to remember how to hit for average first. Gardner doesn’t get enough credit for being able to do a little of everything other than hit for power.
The catchers were the toughest to grade given their sporadic playing time over the last few years, and I think all three of those guys could be considered below-average across the board. Cervelli runs well for a catcher and both Stewart and Romine have strong defensive reputations, so I’ll give them a little love in those departments. My biggest problem with the five tools is that plate discipline gets ignored, and it’s an area where several Yankees (Gardner, Granderson, A-Rod, Tex, Youkilis) would rate as above-average. Durability is another one, the ability to stay on the field counts.
I suspect there will be a lot of disagreement about these, so let me have it in the comments.