Saturday, May 31, 2008

Cleveland Indians: All-Star Caliber Tools

Joe Posnanski recently had a blog post about the Royals' 60 tools. In summary, baseball scouts take each of a player's tools (for batters: hitting for average, hitting for power, speed/baserunning, defense, throwing arm) and grades them on a scale of 20-80. As Posnanski put it, 20 is "Barely knows which gloves goes on which hand." Eighty is a once-in-a-lifetime talent, like Ted Williams' hitting. Fifty is major league average, and 60 is All Star level.

The theory is that the more 60 tools you have on your team, the better the team will be. For example, he postulates that the Royals only have two 60 tools on the whole team, while the Red Sox have 11 just in their starting batting order.

Where do the Indians rank? Posnanski's commenters listed six 60 tools, and I'd agree right away:

1. Grady Sizemore' speed
2. Franklin Gutierrez' arm
3. Victor Martinez' hitting
4. Asdrubal Cabrera's defense (Which is a 60 at the very least, and may be the best tool on the team right now.)
5. Sizemore's defense
6. Gutierrez' defense

I've seen Ben Francisco's arm in person, and I'd give that a 60 as well. At the time, Francisco had been in the majors for less than a month, and already the Blue Jays knew not to run on him. That's a good sign that Toronto's scouts also give Francisco's arm a 60. Of course, Francisco has also hit well this season, but it's too early to give him a 60 there.

What else? The pre-slump Travis Hafner easily gets 60s for power and plate discipline. (I know plate discipline isn't one of the five traditional tools, but it's definitely something to take into account.) Casey Blake has a 60 arm in right field, but it looks pretty average from third base. Andy Marte is supposed to be a 60 defender with a 60 arm, but I haven't seen enough of him to pass judgment.

On the pitching side, I'd say this:

1. CC Sabathia's fastball
2. Sabathia's slider (Considered by some to be the best in the league.)
3. Fausto Carmona's sinker (Torii Hunter once said that it had so much movement, he felt like he was hung over.)
4. Cliff Lee's 2008 command (Everone has said that Cliff's command is the main reason for his turnaround this year.)

What do you think? Do the Indians have more 60 tools? Do they have less than what I mentioned? How many 60 tools does your favorite team have? Join the discussion on the KankaNation message board.