A “five-tool” baseball player usually refers to a non-pitcher who has a complete ability to play baseball—someone who can hit for average, hit for power, run, throw and catch. “He is a five-tool player: hit, hit for power, catch, run and throw” was cited in print in July 1989. “‘The Five Tools’—speed, an accurate arm, good fielding skills, the ability to hit for power, and, for pitchers, arm strength” was cited in print in April 1991.
A “five-tool player” is rare and usually can command an expensive contract.
Wiktionary: five-tool player
five-tool player (plural five-tool players)
1.(baseball) A player than can hit for a high batting average, for power, runs the bases well, throws well and fields well.
Wikipedia: Glossary of baseball
The ideal position player (non-pitcher); an athlete who excels at hitting for average, hitting for power, baserunning skills and speed, throwing ability, and fielding abilities. In Major League Baseball, players considered five-tool players have included Hall of Famers Willie Mays, Andre Dawson, and Duke Snider, as well as Barry Bonds, and Ken Griffey, Jr. Active players who have been described as possessing the five tools include Carlos Gonzalez, Alex Rodriguez, Mike Trout, Matt Kemp, Carlos Beltran, and Ryan Braun. Baseball Digest has argued that the five-tool-player label is overvalued. However, the five tools continue to be the things professional scouts consider when evaluating young players’ potential.
30 July 1989, Chicago (IL) Sun-Times, “Bye-bye, Baines: Sox trade for Fletcher, 2 prospects” by Joe Goddard, pg. 1:
He is a five-tool player: hit, hit for power, catch, run and throw.
11 April 1991, Syracuse (NY) Herald-Journal, Sports, pg. 13, col. 1 photo caption:
Cincinnati Reds scout Edie Kolo looks for “The Five Tools”—speed, an accurate arm, good fielding skills, the ability to hit for power, and, for pitchers, arm strength.
31 May 1992, Rockford (IL) Register Star, “Top Prospects” (Gannett News Service), pg. 4E, col. 1:
“He’s (Centerfielder Jeffrey Hammonds of Stanford—ed.) a five-tool guy,” said Gary Hughes of the Florida Marlins. “He has a chance to be a complete player.”
Google News Archive
4 November 1992, Daily News (Bowling Green, KY), “Red deal O’Neill to Yankees, get All-Star outfielder in return” by The Associated Press, pg. 1-B, col. 2:
“I feel this is a good deal for both teams.” Red general manager Jim Bowden said. “Roberto is a five-tool player. That is, he is average or above average in five offensive categories, and we think he’ll be a better player on Astroturf.”
Dave Winfield, 3,000 and Counting
By Pioneer Press Co. (Saint Paul, Minn.)
Kansas City, MO: Andrews and McMeel
ln fact, most teams liked him more as a pitcher not because of his great arm, but because he was a rare five-tool player.
New York (NY) Times
BASEBALL; The Mets Get Their Man For Bonilla
By JASON DIAMOS
Published: July 29, 1995
“We’re talking a 23-year-old with five tools as opposed to a 32-year-old,” said McIlvaine, referring to the tools that make a complete ballplayer: arm strength, hitting, speed, fielding and hitting for power.
OCLC WorldCat record
The complete idiot’s guide to fantasy baseball
Author: Michael Zimmerman
Publisher: New York, NY : Alpha Books, 2000.
Edition/Format: eBook : English
Contents: The Five-Tool Baseball Player --
OCLC WorldCat record
The five-tool player : become the total package that pro and college baseball scouts want
Author: Mark Gola
Publisher: New York : McGraw-Hill, ©2007.
Series: McGraw Hill professional.
Edition/Format: eBook : Document : EnglishView all editions and formats
Summary: Shows you how to become a complete baseball performer who can hit for high average, hit for power, run fast, throw hard, and play excellent defense.
OCLC WorldCat record
Baseball’s greatest hitters: : batting champs, five-tool phenoms and the most fearsome mashers in Major League history
Author: Eric Enders
Publisher: Minnetonka, Minn. : Major League Baseball Properties, ©2011.
Series: MLB insiders club
Edition/Format: Book : Biography : English