Typically when people think of five-tool players they think of guys like Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen or Carlos Gonzalez. Basically up-the-middle players who do everything well. Paul Goldschmidt however is not an up-the-middle player but I believe he does have the five tools.
For those who don’t know the five tools are what scouts use (among other things) to evaluate a player. The five tools are hitting for power, hitting for average or contact ability, defense, arm and finally speed.
When looking at Goldschmidt the one tool that stands out is his power. He put up at least a .600 slugging percentage (SLG) and at least a .290 isolated power (ISO) and 2 seasons of 30 home runs in his 3 minor league seasons. His power has showed in the majors as well. In 2012 his first full season in the majors he hit 20 home runs, had a .490 SLG and a .204 ISO. This season his power has taken another step forward. He currently has 31 home runs, .548 SLG and a .251 ISO, all of which currently lead National League first basemen. I specify National League here because that Chris Davis guy has been pretty darn good this season.
Goldschmidt’s hit tool is solid but not close to as good as his power tool. With that being said Goldschmidt is still coming into his own in terms of contact rate. His contact rate has improved each season he has been in the big leagues as per pitch f/x, it rose from 70.7% in 2011, to 77.1 in 2012 and to 78.7% this season. With that contact rate increasing his strikeout rate, as to be expected, has decreased at roughly the same rate. His strikeout percentage has dropped from 29.9% in 2011, to 22.1% in 2012 and to 20.6% this season. Batting average is never the best way to evaluate a player but it does judge a players’ hit tool. His BA has risen from .250 in 2011 to.286 in 2012 to .298 this season. His BABIP is high this season at .333 but it is actually down from last season’s .340. He had very high BABIPs in the minors and from his batted-ball profile looks like he may be a guy who consistently posts BAPIPs above .300.
His defense is again a work in progress. Defensive numbers take about three seasons to become relevant and we don’t quite have that yet but we do have 2695.2 innings for Goldschmidt at 1B. In those innings he has shown to be an above average defender. This season Goldschmidt has an ultimate zone rating of 4.9 which is fifth among qualified first-basemen. Over the last three seasons Goldy’s UZR is 2.9 which among first basemen with a minimum of 2500 innings ranks 7th out of 13. Essentially an average defender. DRS however tells a different story, this season anyway. Per DRS Goldy has been among the best fielding first basemen. He has saved 11 runs, which is tied for the lead with Adrian Gonzalez and Anthony Rizzo.
A first baseman’s arm is very difficult to judge as it is hardly ever needed. To my knowledge there are not yet stats that judge a player’s arm. So the only way to evaluate a player’s arm is by scouting the player. I did a quick Google search trying to find a scouting report on Goldschmidt’s arm and I found nothing. Thankfully FanGraphs has a feature where fans can submit their reports on players. Of course this isn’t the most accurate analysis, but it will do. The fans gave Goldschmidt a 48 (0-100 scale) in arm strength in 2011 and a 44 arm strength in 2012. His accuracy was given a 53 and 41 in 2011 and 2012 respectively. We can conclude from this that Goldschmidt has about an average arm.
Finally the last tool to look at is arguably Goldy’s second-best tool, his speed. Goldy stole 18 bases last season which was tops among qualified first basemen. This season he has 13 which again is tops among qualified first basemen. There is more to speed than just pure stolen bases, the ability to go first to third or score from second on a single. There is a stat that measures this, called base-running runs above average (BsR). It takes all base-running into account including steals and caught stealing. Goldschmidt has again been elite in this category. This season he has been worth 1.2 runs above average which is 4th among first basemen. Last season he was worth 3.2 runs above average which was tops in the National League and second to only Eric Hosmer.
To conclude, perhaps Goldschmidt is not the five-tool player I had anticipated. He does however have 2 very elite tools in his power and speed. He has 2 average tools in his contact rate and defense. His arm is average to below average but for a first basemen that’s not too important. He isn’t quite a five-tool first baseman but 4 average to elite tools with only 1 below average tool make him about as close to a complete-package first baseman as you’re going to find in the game today.
The Blue Jays were in a tough spot this trade deadline. They came into the season with huge expectations and as you may know they have failed to live up to those lofty expectations. They should have been sellers in my opinion this deadline; instead they decided to hold, which is understandable as most of the core is at least signed though next season. Casey Janssen is considered one of those core pieces.
With that being said here are three reasons why I think that Janssen should not be a core piece and should have been dealt this past deadline.
Reason #1 Get a piece for the future.
Here’s how Janssen compares to the other “proven closer” who got traded this deadline.
The numbers are similar but clearly Janssen has been better this season, meaning he could have brought back something better than Danry Vasquez who the Astros got for Veras. That type of prospect could have helped the Blue Jays’ depleted system recover somewhat from all the off-season trades.
Reason #2 Blue Jays have a replacement closer in the wings.
If Janssen had been dealt the Blue Jays could have handed the closer’s job to all-star Steve Delabar. Delabar has all the traits you look for in a closer: he throws hard, averaging a touch over 94mph this season. He gets strikeouts, 13.59 K/9 and 34.7% K rate. He is also getting good results sporting a pitching triple slash line (ERA/FIP/xFIP) of 2.90/2.44/3.11. He also doesn’t have a platoon issue, allowing a .297 wOBA against righties and a .304 wOBA against lefties. I don’t see how the Blue Jays management could have a problem giving Delabar a shot at the closer’s job if they had dealt Janssen.
Reason #3 Janssen is declining
This is the big reason why the Blue Jays should have dealt Casey Janssen. His skills are declining and selling him now would have been the perfect time before he potentially implodes next season. Here’s why I see Janssen declining and not being the same next season. He will turn 32 this September so he is on the wrong side of the pitcher aging curve. He is at that age where across the board numbers usually begin to decline, and we are already starting to see that this season. Let’s start with velocity; he is down almost 2MPH this season from 91.7mph the last 2 seasons to 90.0mph this season. We know velocity is highly correlated with strikeouts so it’s not surprising to see a significant drop in both his K/9 and K%. His K/9 is down from 9.47 last season to 8.91 this season and his K% has dropped from 27.7% to 25.4%. His swinging strike rate has never been great but it peaked last season at 9.5% which was just barely above the league average. It has dropped back to 2010-2011 levels at 8.2% and is now below average. His O-Swing rate is down, which leads me to believe his stuff isn’t fooling batters as it had in the past, and it supports why his walk rate has shot up from 1.55 BB/9 last season to 2.36 this season.
We can clearly see his skills are declining, but despite all that Janssen has managed to post the best FIP and xFIP of his career. I see this as being significantly influenced by luck. He is posting the lowest BABIP of his career at .225 vs. a career .290; his HR/9 and HR/FB% are also at career lows sitting at 0.26 and 3.7% respectively. Pitching in Toronto you have to figure there is no way he keeps suppressing home runs at his current rate.
To sum this up, we have a closer who has declined across the board, who will be 32 next month, and who is getting results by suppressing home runs in a hitter-friendly park. Yet he was kept around despite the possibility of being able to get a decent prospect and having a potential closer replacement waiting. But hey who knows what will happen in a year from now, maybe Janssen will keep it up for one more season and make me look like an idiot, but I wouldn’t bet on it.