Every big league scout wants to find the next "five tool" ballplayer, but what exactly does that mean? In a nutshell, these athletes excel at nearly every facet of baseball: hitting for power and average, throwing, fielding and running.
There are a great deal of Major League Baseball players who are good in a number of those areas, but it's only once in a blue moon that we're lucky enough to see a truly complete ballplayer like Willie Mays or Mickey Mantle.
To be a five tool baseball player, you must have:
Exceptional speed – Being able to run like the wind gives batters a better shot at getting to first, and when they're there, they can quickly turn what would have been an out into a double by stealing second. Of course, good speed means more outs on defense as well.
A cannon for an arm – While good legs will ultimately get extra bases for runners, a strong arm can prevent baserunners from even trying to advance. An out on the basepaths can be absolutely devastating for an offense, but a huge momentum builder for the defense.
Golden glove work – There are plenty of strong, fast players in the Majors, but be able to get to and get rid of the ball quickly isn't enough to make a complete defensive superstar. In order to be a true "glove-smith," players need to have cat-like reactions and excellent hand-eye coordination.
A high batting average and on-base percentage – As "Moneyball" emphasized, the most valuable players are those who get on base the most. You can't score runs if you're making outs.
Monster power numbers – Typically, the best hitters have high batting averages or are crushing balls into the bleachers. Rarely do you see a batter who can excel at both, but when you do, there's a good chance you're looking at an All-Star.
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