Scouts have long graded position players on five tools that are central to success in the game: hitting, hitting for power, running, fielding and throwing. The so-called “five-tool player” is a special breed, as those who truly rate above average in each category are extremely rare.
This week, MLB.com is tasking five reporters with building the ultimate five-tool Superman, by picking the best examples of each tool from the talented pool of current big leaguers. One important stipulation: Each player could only be selected for one of the five tools.
Up last: Putting it all together
Over the course of this week, we have selected the game's best pure hitters, along with its most dangerous power threats, fastest baserunners, slickest fielders and strongest-armed throwers. Now it's time to assemble all of those top tools and take stock of the multi-talented results.
Here is a look at each of these five baseball Supermen and what they bring to the table.
If I were creating a player in a baseball video game, this is who I'd design. My five-tool superplayer has everything I love to watch on the baseball field. LeMahieu's opposite-field gappers. Judge's beyond-the-bleachers home runs. Acuña's 40-40 club-level speed and 50-50 club-level fire. Chapman's day-at-the-beach defense. Bellinger's triple-digit left arm. Or maybe I should put it this way: My player combines a batting champion, a home run king, a stolen base league leader, a Platinum Glove winner and a reigning MVP. Put me in that video game, I'm a cheat code.
-- David Adler
I didn’t set out to create such an Angels-centric player, but here we are. In real life, Rendon and Trout are now teammates in the middle of the Halos lineup, and here they combine into one impossible-to-contain hitter who gets the bat on the ball like Rendon but also punishes it like Trout. Give that hitter Buxton’s wheels, and things get even more dangerous. Then, on the other side of the ball, you have a shortstop who is one of the best defenders ever to play the position, with the upgraded arm of a 21-year-old who can fling flames across the infield with ease.
-- Andrew Simon
I would absolutely love to watch this Superman on the field. Each player involved seems to make the previous one better. Imagine McNeil’s contact rate mixed with Sánchez’s hard-hitting tendencies. That’s a lot of very hard-hit homers. Then we mix in Locastro’s speed for the ones that don’t go over the wall, and it gets even more electric. In the defensive half of the inning, that Robles-Laureano combo would prevent a ton of runs -- Robles with the great catches, and Laureano with the outstanding arm. Both are already great defenders, but putting them together would make this player unstoppable.
-- Sarah Langs
In 2019, Cruz didn't play a single inning on defense, was one of the slowest players in baseball and struck out in a quarter of his plate appearances. Yet, he still recorded 4.3 Wins Above Replacement, per FanGraphs, in 120 games. His power was that valuable. My superplayer takes Cruz’s head-turning pop and augments it with Brantley’s bat-to-ball skills. How many homers would someone like that hit? The sky’s the limit. When the ball isn’t flying out of the park, my player would be flying around the bases with Turner’s top-tier speed. And by combining those wheels with Kiermaier’s defensive instincts, he would be tracking down balls from foul line to foul line. Throw in Báez’s cannon, and there’s pretty much nothing this guy can’t do.
-- Thomas Harrigan
Betts brings all the plate discipline and coverage that Gallo lacks, while Gallo can launch the ball to places only a few mortals on planet Earth can reach. The combined legs of Yelich and Bader ensure my player can reach any corner of the diamond in a flash, while their instincts will help him know when to take off for an extra base or leave his feet for a spectacular dive. And no one is testing my player’s arm with Realmuto’s strength and accuracy loaded up -- especially if he gets the luxury of a crow hop from the outfield. Put my player anywhere. He’s ready to rock.
-- Matt Kelly