The term ‘five-tool player’ is mentioned a great deal in the game of baseball, especially when a young guy comes up.
You’ll hear a fellow player or manager say, “That guy has all that it takes to be a five-tool player.” What does that really mean though? Does it guarantee success? Surely not – I can think of a few right now that have carried that label, and would do good to produce one or two tools today, much less five.
Thankfully we have at least a few examples of what that means. One is readily viewable for fans of the Colorado Rockies in outfielder Carlos Gonzalez. Affectionately referred to as ‘Cargo’, Gonzalez brings each and every one of the tools to the field every night.
What are the five tools though? They are: running speed, arm strength, hitting for average, hitting for power and fielding.
For example, Gonzalez stole twenty bases last season. That didn’t lead the league, but it is plenty higher than the average. It shows he has the ability to run the bases well, and has the tool of speed. He averages between seven and ten outfield assists each season as well. That clearly shows the man has a cannon of an arm. If your team is playing the Rockies and your speedster tags up on a pop fly to Gonzalez, close your eyes – because you don’t want to watch.
For his career, he has averaged right at a .300 average. That is clearly evidence that he hits for average. Power-wise, he has had years of 34, 26 and 22 homers, showing the ability to hit for power. Meanwhile he has a career fielding percentage of .991. That takes care of all five tools.
Now that we have established how good Gonzalez is, with himself and his teammates being healthy around him, look for a MVP caliber season from him in 2013.