Okay, I lied. It's pretty terrible. It is, after all, Steve Phillips
we're talking about here.
Let me ask you something. If you click on a link that says "Steve Phillips: Best tools in the game" and then you see a headline that says "Identifying those with the best tools in the game" and then you read a first sentence that says "Baseball is built on five tools: hitting for average, hitting for power, throwing, fielding and running," don't you expect to read an article about, I don't know, the guys who have the best tools in the game?
You might, but you would be wrong to expect such a thing, because you have entered the Steve Phillips Zone, where the rules of logic have no meaning and a man can say he's going to write about one thing but then just give up midway through the first paragraph and ramble on about whatever he feels like. A better name for this article would be "An Arbitrary List of Things I Think About Eighteen Players, Groups of Players, or Managers."
Plus, to wrap everything up, there's a sixth category -- chemistry -- on the guys who have a sixth sense for creating it.
Let me interrupt Steve by pointing out that he himself has identified what are traditionally considered the five tools. They are, in his own words:
hitting for average
hitting for power
Before we even read the article, let's skim the subheadings and see what he lists as tools:
"Sticks" -- okay, that's hitting for average. "Muscle" -- power. "Arms" -- that means throwing guys out, like Andruw Jones, right? No. This is where Steve Phillips lists pitchers. Because a five-tool guy is a guy who can hit for average, hit for power, field his position, run fast, and pitch a no-hitter, all in the same game. I think Barry Bonds did this once in 1987.
Basically, by the second sentence of the article, Phillips acknowledges he's just going to Larry-King-in-USA-Today this thing and wing it:Here's a look at the players whose skills, or lack thereof, in each area could make or break their teams.
Here's a look at players who may be good or may be bad at things and thus may confer good or bad results on their teams, depending on if they're good or bad at the things.
This is what Phillips has to say about Adam Dunn:If he focused on contact, he could hit 50 homers and drive in 150.
This seems like sort of a tall order. Albert Pujols, the awesomest hitter in baseball, has never hit 50 homers or driven in 150 runs, ever. All Dunn has to do is focus on contact for a historically great season? Jesus, get on that, Adam.Dunn has 12 sacrifice flies in five full seasons; Justin Morneau had 11 last year.
This is a common criticism of Dunn, but I'm not so sure it's that big a deal. This guy
notes that in 2003 and 2004, Dunn fucked up some sac fly opportunities because with a runner on third and less than two outs, 50% of his fly balls went for home runs. Whoops!
Here's what Phillips thinks about Tigers pitchers:Tigers pitchers
A lasting memory from the 2006 Series is of Tigers pitchers throwing wildly to first and third bases. As isolated incidents, the errors aren't a big deal. In the Series they were huge, like Tony Romo's dropping the snap in the NFL playoffs. We'll know the Tigers are over it only when the pitchers make several plays after an error.
Does he really think the entire Tiger pitching staff is going to turn into a bunch of Knoblauchs because of last year's Series? These are the words of a crazy person.
Bob Wickman, RHP, Braves
Because they sit in the bullpen and work one inning at a time, it's not often that closers are team leaders. But there are many things about Wickie that his teammates admire. He cares more than most, he knows more than most and he makes sense when he speaks. Plus, he has overachieved with mediocre stuff.
This guy is a leader because "he makes sense when he speaks." He can walk without falling down. He eats food instead of rocks. He wears clothes instead of refrigerators. He is a chemist.
Eric Chavez, 3B, A's
Last season, forearm problems sapped Chavez's strength and power. Many players would have opted out of the lineup to protect their stats, but Chavez knew the team needed his D, leadership and whatever offense he could provide. The A's made the playoffs by taking on the personality of their gritty and determined third baseman.
He gritted Frank Thomas to a 41.3 VORP and he gritted Nick Swisher to a .372 OBP. Glue guy. Grit guy. Glue grit. If he were in a band, it would be called Motley Glue. If he were a seminal 1941 John Crowe Ransom essay, he would be called "The New Griticism."
Anyway, there you go. A list of the guys with the best tools in baseball.
Labels: adam dunn, bob wickman, eric chavez, steve phillips, tools