Tools are the new Moneyball

Alex Anthopoulos has put his money where his mouth is , making Tools the new Moneyball over Sabermetrics in Toronto.

Supporting Evidence

(Tools Primer)

The 5 tools:

Hitting for Average
Hitting for Power
Arm Strength


Scouting Staff Hires

This is quickly becoming old news. From a March 2010 Bob Elliot article:

Anthopoulos came up with a number of his own, hiring 32 new scouts during the off-season — 14 on the pro side and 18 to scout amateurs.

Both pro and amateur departments were redesigned, each with a three-level hierarchy.

For the amateur side, that meant having three national cross-checkers responsible for five regional cross-checkers, with five area scouts reporting to each of them.

Key Off-Season Acquisitions

Alex Gonzalez

Admittedly a mixture of stats and tools, Alex was undervalued during the off-season. The Jays knew all about his plus D. His average to tiny-plus power played out well, netting a younger player four months later.

John Buck

Scores as above average in power, not much else. Honestly I’m not sure how to defend this move on a tools or sabermetric basis. At the end of the day the AA ‘secret sauce’ was applied. And it ended up being pretty tasty.

Brandon Morrow

Toolsly power pitcher. AA swapped out 70 IP of set-up relief for 150+ IP of power pitching.

Kyle Drabek / Travis D’Arnaud

Top level prospects that each bring tools to the table. Drabek brings ‘bloodlines’, which scouts love

Adeiny Hechavarria

Adeiny- Hechavarria-2.jpeg

A $10 million investment, Hechavarria didn’t exactly light up Cuban baseball circles with his offensive statistics. Almost entirely a project-ability / tools based signing

Key In-Season Acquisitions

Fred Lewis

A gift really. Lewis has tools in spades but has never put it all together. In 2010 he’s right around historical norms offensively but still has to put things together defensively. The tools are present.

Yunel Escobar

Off the chart tools from the defensive side. Strong hit for average, above average speed, great arm strength.

Anthony Gose

Carl Crawford Tool Comps, etc. See our recent Anthony Gose Bio

Outgoing Players

Brandon League

As I alluded to earlier, League has tools but has shown a propensity to be a set-up man due to his yearly low WPA.

Tim Collins


Sabermetric stat machine. Utterly amazing K/9 ratio. But from a tools perspective he graded out as average to above average in most facets of the game. Also does not have prototypical pitcher height and weight

Brett Wallace

Strong hit for average and above average power skills, although a slow, lumbering runner and a below average corner infielder. Far from toolsy.


Many (including myself) grumbled about the Jays reaching on players with their boatload of early picks. In retrospect this appears to have happened for three reasons:

1. Free up some cash for the International Signing period
2. Select ‘reach’ Toolsy players that scouts liked
3. Go over slot on Tools when need be

The Jays aren’t going to break the bank with early picks (ie the first round such as the unsigned Deck McGuire, although they will go over slot with players from the second round and down). Recently second-rounder Kellen Sweeney signed for roughly $70,000 over slot. Rumours abound that 5th rounder Dickie Joe Thon will be lured away from a Rice commitment for a seven-figure plus bonus.

Conversely, ‘reaches’ such as Aaron Sanchez ($775 K) and Noah Syndergaard ($600 K) signed for less than slot.

International Signings

Screen shot 2010-08-04 at 12.36.51 PM.png

More of the same. The Jays spend some serious cash on international signings, including the 4th highest signing bonus of all-time for 16 year old RHP Adonis Cardona. He joins fellow Venezuelan signing Gabriel Cenas ($700 K).

The Toronto Version of Moneyball

AA took over the reigns, bringing along a mission to push scouting and tools as a means to compete in the AL East. We won’t know how things ultimately turn out for a few more seasons but it’s easy to see that things are looking up in Toronto.

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5 replies on “Tools are the new Moneyball”
  1. says: AG

    The problem with sabermetrics is that the cat is out of the bag. All the clubs have access to the best metrics so statistical scouting while still valuable no longer provides you with any real advantage over other clubs. Everyone is good at reading the numbers and finding players with major league potential. AA is trying to be better at evaluating the tools and finding the guys who have superstar potential and generally those are the players with the great raw tools.

  2. says: Early

    Any corelation between Sabrmetrics of an 18, 19 or 20 year old player to his MLB production?

    I agree a tools based approacch is the way to scout amateur players. Sabrmetrics are the way to scout ML veterans.

    1. says: Greg

      They are actually called Davenport translations and PETCOA projections. So, yes, Sabermetrics tries to do it all.

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