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Mike Alberts | Director of Player Development

“Importance of the 5 tools”


Everyone knows the 5 tools of a baseball player: Hitting, Hitting for Power, Defense, Running, and Throwing.  Each player can be graded in each category.  When you grade a player’s tools he receives 2 grades; One for the present and one for the future.  Depending on the player’s age and ability they may be close together or far apart.  When Justin Upton was the first pick in the MLB draft most scouts regarded him as a 20 present bat and an 80 future bat.  When using the MLB scale those numbers will correspond with a batting avg.  A future 50 hitter will have a .255 avg.  There is a metric or stat that goes with every grade.  If a player has an 80 power grade that would mean the player would hit over 35 HR in the Major Leagues.

The 20-80 scale can be applied to any set of metrics.  It may not make sense to use the MLB scale, but if you understand the scale and metrics, it can make evaluating a player much easier and much more consistent.  You want to try to avoid saying, “This is the best 16 year old SS I’ve ever seen from the state of Wyoming.”  Uniformity is the ideal end result.  A 50 arm is a 50 arm regardless of age, and regardless of other tools.  David Ortiz had a unique tool set: 80 Hitting, 80 Power Hitting, 20 Run, 20 Defense, and 20 Arm.  Most players are going to be more of a combination.  One of the most important things to consider using a scale as that you stick to the scale.  An 80 Fastball is 98MPH or higher.  You won’t see that type of velocity often, but it doesn’t mean you change the scale.  

I think the most important use of the 5 tools scale is used in profiling for each position.  Profiling is assigning an order to how you value the tools based on position.  If you are looking for a 1B the top 2 tools will be Hitting and Hitting for Power.  When you think of a Major League 1B you prob think of the cleanup hitter who hits for high avg and a lot of HR.  Next for the 1B would be defense, then running, then throwing.  A 1B doesn’t have to throw much and doesn’t have to throw the ball very far.  You don’t need much speed to be a good defensive 1B.  The 2 most important tools for a CF are Speed and Defense.  It’s hard to be an above avg defensive CF if you are not really really fast.  You need speed in CF to cover both gaps.  Next you would want your CF to be able to hit.  If you he hits for power that’s an extra bonus.  Arm is last for a CF.  

There are exceptions to every rule.  You could have a 1B on a team that doesn’t hit or hit with power.  Real life often comes into building a team; meaning- you don’t always get what you want or need.  I think profiling can help you focus on what a player can do, opposed to always listing what a player can’t do.  It is important that the player understands how the tools profile for his position.  It is also important that the player gets a baseline of his ability.  Every player should know what his present tools are as a player.  Once he has a baseline on every tool, he can now plan on how to improve each tool.

Have a great day on behalf of Firecracker Sports!

Mike Alberts

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