The term five-tool player gets tossed around a lot in baseball. Anybody with that moniker will likely have a good shot at winning an MVP Award at some point in their career. We’re not looking at those players. We’re looking for a two-tool player at most, someone who can hit for average and power, but can’t do anything else. Furthermore, I will not be taking designated hitters into account for this. Sure, they’re the most obvious answers, but it’s literally their job to be good at hitting and nothing else. I’m not going to reward someone simply for doing their job. No sir-ee. I’m a capitalist.
In order to qualify for this award, the player in question must have accrued negative value as a baserunner, fielder, and have below-average arm strength, while maintaining an OPS-plus of 100 or better. They must also have played at least two-thirds of their games in the field. Anything less will result in immediate disqualification.
This year’s winner is Juan Soto!
In 2022, Soto earned -1 runs as a baserunner, -2 runs as a fielder, and his average throw from right field clocked in at an astonishingly low 85.8 miles per hour. He did all this while recording a 149 OPS-plus, the third-highest of anyone who recorded negative runs as a baserunner and fielder. The two that ranked ahead of Soto were Mike Trout and Freddie Freeman. However, Trout was well above league average in terms of arm strength, averaging 90.2 miles per hour on his throws from center field, ranking 57th in all of baseball. The average throw speed from a center fielder in 2022 was 90.0 miles per hour, according to BaseballSavant. While Freeman had a lower average MPH on his throws (80.8), he was also doing so from first base. The average MPH from first basemen in 2022 was 78.2, meaning Freeman actually had the sixth-strongest arm of all first basemen this year. The same can’t be said for Soto.
Right field is typically where you play your outfielder with the strongest arm, due to the throw to third base. The metrics back this up. The average throw from left field was 87.3 mph, center: 90.0 mph, and right: 90.5 mph. Of all right fielders with at least 100 throws in 2022, Soto ranked 40th of 44 in arm strength, meaning he wasn’t a good baserunner, fielder (contrary to what his Gold Glove finalist distinction would tell you), and had a well-below-average arm. But hey, the man is a monster at the plate, and that’s all the Padres really need out of him.
Other people who were in consideration for this award were Tampa Bay’s Yandy Díaz (143 OPS-plus, -1 baserunning runs, -13 fielding runs, ranked 50th of 53 in third baseman arm strength), San Francisco’s Joc Pederson (144 OPS-plus, -2 baserunning runs, -15 fielding runs, ranked 30th of 40 in left fielder arm strength), and Texas’ Nathaniel Lowe (141 OPS-plus, -4 baserunning runs, -9 fielding runs, but ranked eighth of 55 in first baseman arm strength).