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Ian Kinsler: Rangers' Five Tool Player

Fresh off of Baseball America's tools issue, FanGraphs' Carson Cistulli has created a set of criteria to measure five-tool players objectively. Cistulli lists the 20 seasons since 2002 in which players have been above a certain threshold in four categories: contact rate (hit tool), home runs per batted ball (hit for power), speed score, and UZR+positional adjustment (fielding and arm).


The catch here is that the fielding tool and arm tool are combined, but the reality is that the classic five tools aren't distinct from each other anyway, because baseball doesn't really distinguish the pure ability to catch the ball from the speed required to reach it, particularly in the outfield and in the middle infield. For that matter, while hitting and hitting for power can be looked at as distinct "tools," some of the same physical traits are involved in both traditional definitions. At any rate, of Cistulli's 20 five-tool seasons in the past nine years, four belong to Chase Utley, three to Carlos Beltran, and two each to Troy Tulowitzki and David Wright


Ian Kinsler is the one Rangers to have a season on the list. His 2009 may actually be the truest five-tool season on the entire list, as only Troy Tulowitzki's lowest 2010 score in one of the four categories was higher than Kinsler's (power in Kinsler's case and contact in Tulo's, and it's close). And, comparing those two directly, Kinsler's composite score is much higher. 


Cistulli also lists the 16 seasons that qualified under his criteria for hit, power and speed but were below the line defensively. Kinsler's 2007 was one of those seasons. It's worth noting that Kinsler's UZR and fielding +/- have been in the positives each of the past three years and that 2011 may be his finest defensive season.

Photographs by jamesbrandon, jdtornow, phlezk, flygraphix, mcdlttx, tomasland, and literalbarrage used in background montage under Creative Commons. Thank you.