Last week Bleacher Report would put up and article in which they would create the Ultimate 5-Tool Player. They would create such a player for each of the MLB teams. Thus it gave me the idea of looking back at the last championship team for the New York Yankees. And so for this piece, we will create the Ultimate 5-Tool Player from the 2009 World Series Champion, New York Yankees.
What are the Five Tools?
The first thing that must be explained in a list like this is the criteria for such a list. When it comes to grading a baseball player, scouts and pundits alike, use five skill sets to determine a player’s value. Those skills are hit ability, power, defense, speed, and arm. Now each of these skills encompasses more than just their namesake. For example, the ability to hit a baseball is a skill. But for a player’s hitting to be considered a tool is much reach a certain level. Likewise, for power, speed, and the other two tools.
Hit Tool: Derek Jeter
Anytime you think about the greatest hitters in New York Yankee history the list starts with Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, and Derek Jeter. Derek was one of the most consistent hitters in Major League Baseball history, let alone the 2009 Yankees. For his 20-year regular-season career, Jeter posted a batting average of .310 and in the 16-year postseason career, Jeter batted .308. The level of consistency in Derek’s approach never wavered. The “Jeterian” swing (the inside-out approach) that Derek is so iconically known for propelled Derek to the Hall of Fame.
Speed Tool: Brett Gardner
The Speed Tool was the hardest to decide upon as both Derek Jeter and Brett Gardner merited selection. However, during the 2009 season, Brett Gardner played in 108 games while Jete played in 153. Gardner would steal 26 bases to Jeter’s 30. But the speed tool goes beyond the mere fact of stolen bases. And speed has always been the calling card for Brett Gardner. Whether it’s going first to third in a single or running a ball down in the gaps at Yankee Stadium, Gardy has used his tool to become a quietly great Yankee.
Arm Tool: Robinson Canó
The “Arm Tool” is built on two factors, strength and accuracy. And no one on the 2009 New York Yankees exemplified that more than Robinson Canó. Robbie was a young pup back in 2009 and was still coming into his own but his arm was incredible. Canó would become known for a throw where he ranged behind second base and would fling the baseball over to first seemingly under his left armpit. Robinson would go on to be a great Yankee but his arm will always be his signature Yankee tool.
Defense Tool: Mark Teixeira
For anyone that watched the New York Yankees during the 2009 season, one thing was glaringly obvious Mark Teixeira was a lifesaver. Arguably one of the best defensive first basemen in MLB history, Tex would consistently save his teammates from errors with almost impossible looking scoops. Teixeira’s diligence at his position of first base was remarkable. His footwork seemed to never falter and just about every throw in the dirt was scooped out cleanly. Yes, Derek Jeter also won the Gold Glove award that season but Teixeira would save all the Yankee infielders and for that Teixeira is the defensive tool of excellence for our Ultimate 5-Tool Player from the 2009 Yankees.
Power Tool: Alex Rodriguez
The power tool is fairly simple to explain, it’s about power and production. And Alex Rodriguez delivered that for the Yankees in 2009. From his first at-bat of the 2009 season, A-Rod would show the world that his power stroke was ever-present. A-Rod wouldn’t begin playing that season until May, and the Yankee sputtered out of the gate that season. But the return of Rodriguez coincides with the Yankees starting to find their groove in 2009.
And while Mark Teixeira was the high man in terms of home runs with 39. A-Rod would hit 30 for the season including two in the final game of the 2009 regular season. (Along with 7 RBIs to have A-Rod reach the 30/100 mark for HR/RBIs for the twelfth consecutive year.) Alex would reach the 30 homerun plateau in merely 124 games. (Teixeira’s 39 came in 156 games.)
All the tools are a vital and necessary component to being a 5-Tool player, hence the name 5-tool player. However, each of the players mentioned weren’t limited to only those particular toolsets. So now the question is and the challenge becomes who makes up your Ultimate 5-Tool Player from the 2009 New York Yankees.