When we think of the 5 Tools Baseball Player Legends in baseball, the athletes that somehow seemed bigger than the sport itself, we’re usually thinking about a ballplayer who has developed or been gifted with baseball tools that resemble superhuman-like power.

They make playing baseball look so easy. Effortless, yet powerful swings. Fastballs that explode out of the hand.

When they run, it’s as if their feet aren’t even touching the ground. 

Athletic movements that are as in sync as a choreographed dance.

On occasion, we see the game being played by an athlete who has somehow found a way to combine all of these skills into one toolbox.

We call these rare players, the 5 Tool Baseball Player.

Sidenote: I believe the 6th is the vision tool. Your predictive skills is what allow you to develop off-the-charts pitch recognition skills. If you'd like to learn more about how players are sharpening their pitch-selection skills and timing, you can check out our vision training platform here.

What does The 5 tools Baseball Player Look Like?

A 5 tool athlete in baseball is a player that can exhibit advanced skillsets in the category of:

  • Hitting
  • Fielding
  • Throwing
  • Hitting for Power
  • Running (Speed and agility)

From the perspective of an MLB baseball scout or recruiter, the evaluations are based on a 20-80 scale.

20 being the bottom percentile and 80 representing the top of the scale. Here are some examples at the major league level.

20: Barely passable. As low as it gets for a professional ballplayer at the big league level.

30: Poor, but not unplayable.

40: Below-average.

45: Fringe average.

50: Major league average.

55: Above-average.

60: Plus. Alex Bregman’s speed or Stephen Strasburg’s control.

70: Plus-Plus. Cream of the crop and highly advanced. Among the best tools in the game

80: Top of the scale and ultra-rare. A recruiter's dream. Many MLB scouts will consider only one player’s tool in all of the major leagues to be 80.

Running Speed is usually measured by the Sixty-Yard Dash Times

80 grade scale . . . . . . . . .6.4 or below

 70 grade scale . . . . . . 6.4-6.6

 60 grade scale . . . . . . 6.6-6.8

 50 grade scale . . . . . . 6.8-6.9

 40 grade scale . . . . . . 7.0-7.2

 30 grade scale . . . . . . 7.3-7.4

 20 grade scale . . . . . . .7.5 or above

The Fielding Tool

With Fielding, scouts are looking for arm action, footwork, arm stroke, and a general sense of bodily awareness while fielding, catching, and throwing a baseball. The only thing that can really be measured as a fielder in a tangible way is the velocity in MPH from the sixth hole at Short Stop.

The Hitting Tool

Hitting is also a "looks test" from the scout's perspective. Though exit velocity, launch angle, and visual acuity, are measured, a scout will look for a hitter having a general “feel” for the bat, a sense of the strike zone, the ability to make consistent hard contact, and a low chase rate and plate discipline.

Who is a 5-tool player in MLB?

There have been manner players who for a moment in their career, were the King on the Hill with a single tool.

Think Aaron Judge’s power, Aroldis Chapman’s velocity, Byron Buxton’s speed, and Ozzie Smith’s fielding.

But only a select few can say that performed at an elite level in each skill category. Combining defense, arm strength, hitting, running, and defense into one performance.

Some great examples of 5 Tool Players are:

  • Willy Mays
  • Mike Trout
  • Roberto Clemente 
  • Mickey Mantle
  • Alex Rodriquez
  • Shohei Ohtani
  • Vladimir Guerrero
  • Ken Griffey Jr

How can you become a 5-tool player?

The simple answer is you can become a 5 Tool Player by developing an incredible work ethic with a lot of talent. 

I’m a firm believer that the game is full of talented players who fall short and never reach their potential because they had zero work ethic while the game is also full of players with average ability but made it to a very high level with dedication and persistence.

However, it’s important to be realistic. At the 5 Tool level, talent is important. This level of skill is regulated by both the athletically gifted and hardworking.

Here’s the good news. You don’t need to be a Five Tool Player to play at a high level. If you ever needed proof just look at the major leagues. Most players at that level are not five tools.

Most elite players have developed their skills to have at least two out of the five tools being rated around 50 on the 20-80 scale.

Ultimately what it comes down to is Mastery of the fundamentals.

Playing at a high level is not about becoming a Five Tool Ballplayer, rather it’s about being able to make the routine plays, executing mechanically sound swings, with a good approach and a focus on the process of the game.

It’s about being good consistently over time.

How To Master The Hitting Tool

The higher the level you go, the better the pitching you will see.

The better the pitching you see, the more aggressive you need to be early in the count.

Numbers don't lie. The deeper in the count you go, the harder it is to make solid contact.

Yes, you still need to be selective, but "selectively aggressive". Know what pitch you're looking for and don't miss it when you get it. Being tough with two strikes is important, but not at the risk of missing good pitches to hit early in the count.

When you have count-leverage as a hitter, you should be prepared to take a controlled-aggressive swing on a good pitch.

Be aggressive early in the count, then be tough with two!

CountPlate AppearancesBAOBPSLG
*MLB STATS in each count during the 2018 season.

Is there a 6th Tool?

Yup, there is a 6th tool. It’s the mind. One of my favorite quotes from my buddy Steve Springer is… 

“if baseball was about talent, then every player who got drafted in the 1st round would play 10 years in the big leagues. But that’s not what you see. What you see are players who got drafted in the 30th round playing 10 yrs in the MLB, while 1st-rounders hardly make it out of A ball. It’s because baseball is about the mind.”

Steve Springer @qualityatbats

The Mental Game of Baseball is a non-negotiable.

Why? Because baseball is a game of failure, and how we respond to adversity will dictate our level of performance and consistency.

Playing Against 5 Tool Players

Here's some advice about competing against 5 Tool Baseball Players. First, don't worry about your opponent with the stellar scouting report, or the scouts following them around like a puppy dog.

If they have better skills or higher projection than you, out-energize and out-hustle them.

Don't worry about being put on your heels, having to hit behind in the count, or struggling to be on time with their high-velocity Fastball.

Again, dig in, dig deep, out-energize, and out-hustle them.

When you realize that talent is an important factor but not the only factor, you get to turn heads and surprise people.

The reward? The smile on the way home, and the inner victory you know you achieved as you call it a day.

Make no bones about it, this is a notch on your belt that supports the image you have of yourself as a ballplayer.

which will build your confidence as you develop as an athlete.

Consistency Sharpens Tools

When you learn to play this game focused, present, and on time, you set the stage for transferring what you learned in practice into the game.

If you just let go of "outcome" and learn to allow stay in "process" with a commitment to the approach, you set a tone that develops a love for adversity.

Learn to enjoy the game, taking it one pitch at a time, while building up your teammates as best as you can, you protect yourself from the performance anxiety and tension that comes from making it about "me, me, me".

If you're struggling to replicate success in practice into the game, try the following.

  • have a routine that allows you to be present, focused, and on time. hint: control your breathing!
  • develop a routine & approach, then stick to it.
  • stop making it about you. (build up your teammates)

Do this, and notice the two things that I believe will happen.

1. your performance will improve.

2. the game will be fun.

My Ultimate 5 Tool Player Advice

If I was working with you in private 1-on-1 training, here are some baseball principles that try to pass on to you.

1. What you focus on expands - your ability to focus on the results you want will dictate how far you make it in this game. Period.

2. Infinite patience creates immediate results - you don’t have to become an All-American, leading the league in hitting, or become a 5 Tool Ballplayer in order to have a. Really great year. The reality is, you have time! Develop a love for the game. Learn to embrace adversity. Build up your teammates. Eventually, your abilities will surface.

3. Success leaves clues - if you look at players who thrive at the higher levels of the game, you’ll see that each athlete has a routine. I believe if you can model the routine you’ll achieve similar results. It doesn’t mean you’re going to become the next Mike Trout, but you will have a process that will support you on the days when your swing feels slow, and your body feels tired. 

Ultimately, it comes back to being a Student of The Game.

When you love the game, the game will love you back. 

Think with intent. Swing with intent. Compete with intent. Where there’s intent, confidence follows.

Believe it.

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