What Is 5 Tool Baseball And How To Master It

You have probably heard about a five-tool player in baseball and wondered what it means. Or, you already know the term and want to gain that title. Well, either way, you have come to the right place!

In this article, you’ll learn how to master 5 tool baseball, what are these five tools, and what you can do to up your overall game performance. So, are you ready? Scroll down to learn more!

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What Is A 5 Tool Baseball Player?

In baseball, a 5 tool player is someone who is not a pitcher but is the ideal position player simply because of excelling in all five tools of baseball: running speed, throwing ability, fielding, hitting for average, and hitting for power.

Some of the 5 tool baseball players of Major League Baseball include Hall of Famers Vladimir Guerrero, Andre Dawson, Willie Mays, Ken Griffey Jr., and Duke Snider. While some people including Baseball Digest, a major baseball magazine resource, argue that five-tool players and even the term itself have become overvalued, these five tools are still the most important considerations made by professional scouts when evaluating players.

In other words, a player’s abilities on the field are measured based on these five tools. If you got them all mastered, you do not only have the potential to shine during a game but will also open a lot of opportunities in the future.

Five Baseball Tools

So, what are these five tools, why are they important, and what does mastering them really mean? Find out below!

Running Speed

The first stool, running speed, is what you need when on the base paths or outfield to track down fly balls. Speed is among the more underrated offense and defense skills in baseball.

However, a fast runner on the base paths can actually impact any game’s outcome in many various ways, such as:

  • Scoring through a passed ball
  • Stealing a base or two
  • Rattling the pitcher
  • check
    Scoring from first on a double
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    Taking an extra base
  • check
    Avoiding double plays
  • check
    Drawing pickoff throws that can potentially get away

There are still more that we can add to the list, but you already get the point. Another thing worth mentioning is that the term “speed” used for the tool also refers to baserunning in general.

Jacob Ellsbury exhibited one of the best examples of speed when he swiped a total of 70 bags in 2009 to lead Major League Baseball. He is also remarkable in the outfield for his spectacular catches and tracking down routine fly balls.

However, many players who do not break any records in the 40-yard dash can still get high ratings for this tool based on their knowledge when on the base paths. A few examples include Ryan Zimmerman and Dustin Pedroia who are not very fast but can read the ball excellently right off the bat, steal the occasional base from lazy pitchers, or take extra base once an opportunity pops up. In fact, Zimmerman is ranked among the fastest players in the league for taking an extra base.

Running Speed Improvement Tips

Not everyone can make it up to the line in less than five seconds, but blazing speed can make the remaining baseball tools all the more valuable. To become an excellent base runner, enhance the way you read and react to fly balls, take good routes to the ball as a fielder, and study the running techniques of successful baserunners.

Our Favorite Resources For Speed

SKLZ Speed Chute Unisex

SKLZ Speed Chute Unisex

Training for Speed, Agility, and Quickness-3rd Edition

Training for Speed, Agility, and Quickness-3rd Edition

Hitting For Power

Baseball Core Workout

The next tool is hitting for power, which is essential for the most glamorous and exciting plays in the MLB: the home run. Because a good power hitter in a major league lineup can carry an offense single-handedly, it’s not surprising why home runs and power hitters get all the glory and love. These guys rely on their ability to hit and the power in their hits to win a game.

One of the best players exhibiting raw power is Giancarlo Stanton, who currently leads the national league in terms of home runs. Not only does he hit many home runs but also hits them very far. His farthest hit is a staggering 484-foot blast but also multiple other home runs over 450 feet.

Many of us want to know how it feels to hit a ball like this, but some people would say power cannot be taught. This is simply not true. With constant practice and application of various techniques, you will be able to hit home runs.

Hitting For Power Improvement Tips

While players like Albert Pujols obviously hit the gym regularly, one thing power hitters should possess is the right attitude.

Look at animals, for example. When they are most likely to attack, they hold a steady position with their eyes laser-focused on the target and their head slightly turned. Therefore, when you also keep your head still and your body balanced before you deliver a solid, fluid swing, that’s when your attack is most powerful.

Hitting For Average

How To Hold A Bat

Hitting for Average or Contact is the most valued asset in a position player but is also the hardest tool to excel at. This means that if you can hit for a high average, you can be a valuable asset to your team.

Miguel Cabrera, the biggest asset for the Detroit Tigers, hits for average and was first to win the Triple crown after Carl Yastrzemski. As Cabrera demonstrates, a good hitter for average should be a complete hitter.

Meaning, you should be able to hit any pitch regardless of the speed or location and hit to all fields for power. When hitting for average, you should do the following right:

  • Utilizing the whole field
  • Not striking out but making contact more often than not
  • Hitting the ball hard and on a line

Hitting For Average Improvement Tips

To get better at hitting for a high average, you need to be consistent and confident of your batting approach. Many tools, techniques, and systems can help you achieve this consistency.

One simple tip to achieve a high average is to use the best baseball bat and the proper grip when holding the bat. The knuckles should be closely aligned to allow the hands to react to the pitch faster and more easily.

Our Favorite Resources For Hitting For Average

SKLZ Power Stick Baseball and Softball Training Bat for Strength

SKLZ Power Stick Baseball and Softball Training Bat for Strength

Tanner Tee

Tanner Tee

Fielding Or Defense

Best Youth Catchers Mitt

There is no doubt about it; fielding or defense can win championships, which is why it is considered a vital part of success. An excellent defensive player should be consistent and extremely athletic for a higher chance of winning.

Your shortstop or the fielder positioned between the third and second base is probably your most important defensive player. One example of which is Andrelton Simmons of the Atlanta braves.

Simmons represents the perfect fielding tool because his teammates can count on him to play consistently and outstandingly. Having someone like him or being that someone in your team can be the key to success.

Fielding Improvement Tips

The secret to being a great defensive player is really not a secret: it is to work on it constantly. Never be satisfied or get comfortable with your abilities. Choose to practice shagging pop-flies or taking ground balls every single day. No excuses.

Also, work on your footwork to increase your agility as well as your mitt or glove skills. For coaches or young ones, finding the best youth catcher’s mitt can make a world of difference.

Our Favorite Resources Fielding Or Defense

MacGregor Infield Training Glove

MacGregor Infield Training Glove

SKLZ Reaction Ball Baseball and Softball Reflex and Agility Trainer

SKLZ Reaction Ball Baseball and Softball Reflex and Agility Trainer

To know what are some of the best fielding drills, watch this video:

Arm Strength

Last but not the least of the five tools of baseball is arm strength, the most underrated of them all. Many do not realize that having someone on the team who can throw the ball from the outfield across the diamond can also improve the odds for the team’s victory as much as a home run.

A few renowned players with the ideal arm strength are Yoenis Cespedes and Manny Machado. Cespedes once managed to throw a runner out from the warning track while Machado who primarily plays at third base is consistent in making back-handed off balance throws. Both of these instances display how arm strength can impact a baseball game.

A mistake that most position players make is overlooking their arm strength as long as they can throw accurately. Pitchers can also benefit from improving the mechanics of their throw and improving their velocity by doing different exercises.

First base is the only position where a weak arm won’t matter too much because even second basemen need it to turn double plays.

Arm Strength Improvement Tips

One way to compensate for lack of speed is by having great arm strength. This keeps runners on alert even though it takes longer for you to reach the ball.

To improve arm strength, get a load of strength training, and throwing exercises.

Our Favorite Resources Arm Strength

SKLZ Weighted Training Baseballs

SKLZ Weighted Training Baseballs

Jaeger Sports Exercise Baseball

Jaeger Sports Exercise Baseball

How Are The 5 Tools Of Baseball Ranked In Different Positions?

The importance of each tool varies depending on your position. Of course, every scout is different, and others may rate you in another way. Generally, these are the order of importance for each position:

Catchers

  • 1
    Fielding ability
  • 2
    Arm Strength
  • 3
    Hitting for Average or Contact
  • 4
    Speed
  • 5
    Power

Most catchers are seldom required to hit, but it is definitely a good bonus if they do. However, the ability to both hit and throw will set you up for more opportunities.

Middle Infielders

  • 1
    Fielding Ability
  • 2
    Arm Strength
  • 3
    Hitting for Average or Contact
  • 4
    Speed
  • 5
    Power

As a middle infielder, you should be able to control the center of the field and play defense as well. You should manage to reach the base constantly as an offensive effort, too.

Corner Infielders

  • 1
    Arm Strength
  • 2
    Power
  • 3
    Fielding Ability
  • 4
    Hitting for Average or Contact
  • 5
    Speed

To play the third baseman, you really must have a strong arm. A lot of teams usually position their big hitters or runs batter in (RBIs) at the first or third base.

Corner Outfield

  • 1
    Speed
  • 2
    Fielding Ability
  • 3
    Arm Strength
  • 4
    Hitting for Average or Contact
  • 5
    Power

As a corner outfielder, you need to be able to catch a fly ball and throw out a tagging base runner, which makes speed your biggest asset. Power hitters with strong arms also hide in these positions.

Centerfield

  • 1
    Speed
  • 2
    Arm Strength
  • 3
    Fielding Ability
  • 4
    Hitting for Average or Contact
  • 5
    Power

Centerfielders need to track the ball as soon as it is hit and then quickly get it to the infield. This is why speed is a must for this position. In most cases, a centerfielder is separate from a left fielder.

A good centerfielder should be able to run a 60-yard dash in under 6.6 seconds.

Pitchers

Pitchers need a different set of tools like speed, velocity, body mechanics, poise, and control. They should be able to recreate solid mechanics while maintaining composure and throw three pitches for strikes. Their bodies must be able to handle the force of the innings pitched.

Hitters

Of course, hitters need to be consistently hitting for a high average and connecting each hit to the ball. Power is only secondary because it does not matter if there is no contact.

Hitters should also work to achieve a smooth bat path through the hitting zone and have a thorough knowledge and understanding of the strike zone. Patience is also essential for hitters.

The harder the pitch, the more critical is a hitter’s mechanical soundness. You should be able to hit an inside pitch with considerable force but without being unfair while doing so.

Consistently hitting the fastball should allow you to hit a breaking pitch. Once the pitcher realizes you cannot hit a particular pitch, odds are they will try to recreate that, and you have to prove to them that you can hit it.

Conclusion

Congratulations! Now you know not only what 5 tool baseball is but how to improve your performance in using these five tools. All that is left for you to do is to practice them and put them into action on the field!

No matter what others say or what you got in the genetics lottery, you can certainly improve. Whether or not you were born with these talents, doing your own research and regular practice goes a long way.

If you have any other questions or baseball needs, please do leave a comment down below so I can share what I know and help you with the tools available. Till next time and I wish you the best of luck!

Mark Roose
 

​Hi there! I'm Mark Roose. I am an educated fitness coach with a master degree in Sports Education, and more than ​9 years of working in fitness industry. I love doing and teaching fitness because in my own little way, I am able to encourage people to take health back into their own hands.

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