Not every baseball player possesses the same skills as everyone else. Someone that makes great contact may struggle with the glove and vice versa.
When peers discuss the greatness of players, they usually reference the five tools of baseball. So, what are the five tools for being an elite baseball player?
Whether you are a little leaguer or on the cusp of superstardom, hitting is fundamental for being an elite baseball player. Most players, coaches, and scouts place a high value on the mechanics and results of your swing. Being a quality hitter must be at the top of the list of the five tools.
Elements that everyone looks for in a great hitter are the bat speed, balance, and impressive hand-eye coordination. Therefore, it’s crucial to tinker with your swing in the cage, hoping it can translate to the game. It may be challenging to learn some new tricks, but the best players can adapt to become better hitters.
Every baseball player wants power behind their swing. Power can develop, especially if you get a better baseball bat that packs a more powerful punch. Another way you can develop more power is by altering your launch angle. Being a line drive hitter is great for the batting average; however, increasing your slugging percentage is paramount. Being Pete Rose and hitting .300 has its place on a team, but being Frank Thomas hitting .300 with a slugging percentage well over .500 is better.
Some elite power hitters may lack the running component of being a five-tool player. Being a speedster has its value on a baseball team, particularly if you want to steal a base. Additionally, having wheels can improve other parts of your game, like the next tool up for discussion.
A wonderful thing about baseball is that you can not hit a lick and still be an asset to any team if you can field the ball. Several professional ballplayers stick around the big leagues because they are wizards with leather. For example, Ozzie Smith made the Baseball Hall of Fame for his defense, considering he was a career .260 hitter with zero power.
The last tool that a player can showcase is their throwing arm. Some of the greatest arms the game has ever seen include Roberto Clemente, Ichiro Suzuki, and Vladimir Guerrero in the outfield; and Johnny Bench, Roy Campanella, and Ivan Rodriguez behind the plate. An exceptional arm is truly something to behold when that player lets it loose.
Understanding the tools for being an elite baseball player gives you an idea of what teams want in a ballplayer. Several players may have one or two of these tools, but the truly special ones possess four or even all five of them.