Fantasy Baseball Player Rankings: 15 Best 5-Tool Draft Options
In fantasy parlance, "five-tool" means that a player can contribute across all five offensive categories. There aren't many available, and the good ones will all be snapped up after the first few rounds of your draft.
Building your fantasy team on five-toolers will cost most of your early-round picks, but it's a fantastic strategy if you can pull it off.
Getting well-rounded players early on gives you added flexibility with the rest of the draft. Rather than trying to fill holes, you can take the best player available, knowing you're covered across the board.
Each player on this list has his own strengths and weaknesses, but in order to qualify as a true five-tool player, he must have the ability to deliver the following stat line:
.280 Batting Average
15 Home Runs
15 Stolen Bases
1. Matt Kemp
There are a few players on this list who have the potential to put up a 30/30 season, but Matt Kemp's near-40/40 season in 2011 makes him the best fantasy five-tooler available.
Last year's .324 batting average is a bit of a reach, but beyond that, there's no reason that Kemp can't keep up his elite production across the board. He has the best combination of power and speed in baseball. Despite hitting in a weak lineup, he's a terrific run producer.
2. Ryan Braun
No player has been a more consistent across-the-board producer than Ryan Braun. He was an immediate superstar when he was called up back in 2007, and he's hammered National League pitching in every year since.
His ceiling isn't quite as high as Kemp's, but few players are a safer pick on draft day.
Even at his worst, Braun is a stud. Combining his single-season career low in every fantasy category would yield a stat line of .285/25/14/91/97.
Not too shabby.
3. Hanley Ramirez
Hanley Ramirez fell off a cliff last season, but one injury-plagued hiccup shouldn't distract our focus from the five fantastic seasons that preceded it.
Ramirez's nagging lower-back injury sapped his power and robbed him of his speed. Back to full health, he'll return to his five-tool ways in 2012.
In fact, with an improved lineup around him, Ramirez's run production numbers should spike this season.
4. Justin Upton
Justin Upton has galactic power, but early in his career, a whiff-happy approach was holding him back.
Last season, Upton was able to cut his K-rate down to just under 19 percent, but still maintained a prodigious .240 ISO. He set a career high with 31 home runs.
As he continues to grow into his power, 40 (or even 50) dingers is absolutely within reach, especially in Chase Field's hitter-friendly confines.
Even as he matures, Upton hasn't outgrown his base-stealing speed. He's 20/20 in the bank, with upside for more.
5. Troy Tulowitzki
If this was a list of real-life five-toolers, Troy Tulowitzki would be at the top. Even without giving credit to his incredible defensive ability, "Tulo" is one of the most complete players in fantasy.
At a premium position, he provides power and run production numbers that no other shortstop can match.
He's been running less frequently in recent seasons, but 15 steals is still well within reach this year.
6. Jacoby Ellsbury
Jacoby Ellsbury isn't going to hit 30 home runs again.
Last season's 16.7 percent HR/FB rate more than doubled his previous career high for a full big-league season. However, that doesn't mean that Ellsbury isn't still a viable five-tool option.
His power is developing; he'll settle in around 18-22 homers this season. Tacked on to .300-plus batting average, 40-plus steals and great R/RBI numbers, that's some solid five-tool production.
7. Dustin Pedroia
Dustin Pedroia has settled in as one of the most dependable middle infielders in fantasy baseball. He can't quite match the production of No. 1 second baseman Robinson Cano, but he does bring an element of speed that his Yankee counterpart can't match.
At the plate, no hitter in baseball drives the ball with more consistency than Pedroia. His slugging percentage has flirted with .500 over the last few seasons, but somehow, he's able generate that power while still making contact on nearly 95 percent of his swings.
That combination has allowed him to post a .305 batting average for his career, while still delivering at least 15 homers in each of his last three full seasons.
8. Carlos Gonzalez
Carlos Gonzalez was 2010's answer to 2011's Matt Kemp.
In his first full season as a big-league starter, Gonzalez exploded for a .336/34/26/111/117 stat line. It's only fair to state that an unsustainable .384 BABIP had a lot to do with those numbers, but even so, there aren't many players who are capable of such an outstanding (albeit luck-aided) season.
The power and speed combination that he showed is absolutely for real. Even when it's only accompanied by .295 batting average, Gonzalez remains an elite five-tool weapon.
9. Andrew McCutchen
Without much help around him, Andrew McCutchen has matured into the most under-appreciated superstar in fantasy baseball.
His power and run production numbers have steadily improved over the last few seasons, while his speed and average numbers have stayed strong.
McCutchen's batting average did dip down below .260 last season, but after back-to-back full seasons at .286, I'd say he's a safe bet to bounce back this year.
10. Hunter Pence
Much like McCutchen, Hunter Pence spent the last few seasons as a superstar stranded in offensive purgatory. Flanked by weak hitters like Carlos Lee and Jeff Keppinger, Pence had to earn every number in Houston.
While the Phillies offense isn't what it was a couple of years ago, it's still a major upgrade from his previous situation.
Pence is a great bet for 20/20 in his first full season in Philly. His run production numbers should get a boost from his more supportive surroundings.
11. David Wright
David Wright's star has lost its luster since the Mets' move to Citi Field doused his power numbers back in 2009, but in the two seasons since, he's proven that year to be nothing more than an unfortunate exception.
His HF/FB rate has rebounded back to his career norm and only figures to get better in a cozier home stadium. His speed hasn't wavered; Wright has never stolen fewer than 15 bags in a full big-league season.
The offense around him will take a major hit from the loss of Jose Reyes, but even so, David Wright will be a dependable contributor in every fantasy category.
12. Brett Lawrie
Brett Lawrie's second-half explosion last season was incredibly impressive, drawing comparisons to Ryan Braun's debut a few years prior. If Lawrie's next few seasons turn out anything like Braun's did, his fantasy owners will have a new favorite Canadian.
Lawrie crushed big-league pitching in his 43-game stint; his .580 slugging percentage would have ranked fourth in baseball if he'd qualified.
That's probably setting the standard a bit too high for Lawrie's sophomore season, but projecting 20/20 with a .290 batting average is absolutely realistic.
13. Eric Hosmer
Another in-season call-up, Eric Hosmer was spectacular in his rookie campaign, quickly becoming the best fantasy option on the upwardly mobile Royals.
In terms of fantasy production, Hosmer has the look of a younger Joey Votto, a first baseman who fits the traditional power profile but can kick in 15 steals as well.
Much like Votto, the speed will likely fade as Hosmer fills out, but for this season, he's a rare five-tool option at first base.
14. Alex Gordon
The phrase "post-hype sleeper" doesn't even begin to accurately describe Alex Gordon. Once the top-rated prospect in all of baseball, Gordon was left for dead by the fantasy community after a disappointing start to his career.
Simply sticking in the major leagues for a full season would have been a victory, but Gordon set his sights a bit higher. He surprised us all last year, setting career highs in every fantasy category.
There will certainly be some regression this season, but we know the talent is there. Gordon will settle in as a top-20 outfielder and a consistent five-tool contributor.
15. Carl Crawford
Carl Crawford has a particular strength in speed, but don't pigeonhole him in with the likes of Michael Bourn and Juan Pierre. Crawford has plenty of home run pop, and his cushy spot in a loaded Boston lineup gives him great capacity for run production.
Both mental and physical ailments held back Crawford's numbers in 2011, but with a calmer offseason under his belt, things are looking brighter this spring, assuming that his wrist injury heals prior to the start of the season.
Fenway's dimensions should help Crawford challenge the 20-home run plateau, which would look mighty fine alongside his 35-plus stolen bases.