A “five-tool player” is a well-rounded positional player in baseball who has the ability to hit for power and average, has speed, is skilled in fielding, and has a strong throwing arm. This type of player is rare due to the wide range of skills required.
“Five-tool player” is a term used by baseball scouts to describe a player who has a well-rounded offensive and defensive game. The term does not apply to pitchers or designated hitters, only to positional players. This type of player is especially hard to find in baseball because it requires such a wide range of skills. Furthermore, they are abilities that often don’t mix, such as speed and power, but the player is able to encompass them all.
The five tools are:
Strike for Power – A player with five tools must be able to strike for power. This means that he has the ability to hit home runs and hit for a high slugging percentage, a stat that measures the frequency of extra-base hits.
Hitting for Average – While it is important for a five-tool player to hit the ball out of the park, he must also hit for a high batting average. This means that he must be able to hit into the opposing court, hit for contact with two strokes and generally adapt his approach to hitting to the situation of the game.
Speed: This refers specifically to speed on basic courses. A five-tool player must have speed to maximize extra base hits, which greatly improve a team’s chances of scoring runs. He also needs to be a base-stealing threat, which puts more pressure on the opposing pitcher, catcher, and defense.
Fielding – A five-tool player must be as skilled in the field as he is at the plate. Saving runs defensively can be just as important as creating them offensively, so it’s important that the player be a good defender. Speed helps here too, especially if the player is a winger and needs to cover large spaces on the pitch.
Pitching – An extension of a player’s fielding ability, pitching can be a key element to a five-tool player’s arsenal, especially if he’s a third baseman or shortstop, who needs to be able to throw quickly and accurately through the diamond to first base. A strong throwing arm is also important for an outfielder, because it can be used to put out runners or simply make them think twice about taking an extra base.