There’s an old baseball term that’s survived into this modern age of advanced statistical metrics and pocket-protected nerdlingers who are re-educating us all on how to better evaluate skills on the diamond: The five-tool player. The moniker refers to guys who can run, throw, field, hit for average, and hit for power. Many of these historic all-around elite gentlemen have names even non-fans would recognize: Mantle, Mays, Ruth, Aaron, Griffey, and Barry Bonds. (That the latter was a lock hall-of-famer before he allegedly started juicing makes his career that much more tragic.)
Now electoral and sports statistics guru (and nerdlinger-in-chief) Nate Silver, via his recently relaunched Fivethirtyeight.com, has published a list of Major League Baseball’s “toolsiest” players.
This is not to be confused with the title of MLB’s “tooliest” player, which will indisputably belong to this dude as long as he remains officially active.
Rockies fans will be delighted to see that, based on Fivethirtyeight’s intricate calculations, Carlos Gonzalez is the game’s second-toolsiest star, behind the Angels’ Mike Trout, who so far appears to be the second coming of Mickey Mantle (minus the drinking problem). And just two spots down from CarGo is Troy Tulowitzki—which gives the Rox, by this rather esoteric measure, two of the four best players in the game. (Number three is Nationals’ wunderkind Bryce Harper, who looked ready to claim the next-Mantle mantle until Trout decided to spend his first two-plus years blowing everyone’s mind.)
What does all this mean to the Denver faithful? Not a whole lot, other than our guys are really fun to watch—that is, when they’re healthy, which both Fivethirtyeight and yours truly have cited as ongoing concerns. Indeed, only one of the top 10 toolsiest guys, Robinson Cano, has ever won a World Series.
As Rockies fans are painfully aware, CarGo and Tulo can bring all the tools they want to the ballpark, but that won’t take them anywhere unless they also get some pitching. Or maybe success on the field isn’t so complicated. After all, as the legendarily unscientific Yogi Berra once noted, “Ninety percent of this game is half mental.”
Follow 5280 articles editor Luc Hatlestad on Twitter at @LucHatlestad.
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