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April 17, 2013
The Lineup Card
8 Favorite One-Tool Players
1. Mariano Rivera: The Cutter
2. Dustin Pedroia: Awesomeness
I won’t deny the fact that Pedroia looks like an infant with a beard in the middle of a bunch of pro athletes plays a role in his awesome. So, he’s awesome and his awesome is awesome. But don’t take my word for it. Here, have a few concrete examples with your bowl of awesome flakes:
1. When the Red Sox won the World Series in 2007, Pedroia went down to a local watering hole, hopped over the bar, and started serving drinks. It looked like this:
It was awesome.
“It happens to everybody, man. He’s had 60 at-bats. A couple of years ago, I had 60 at-bats, and I was hitting .170, and everyone was ready to kill me, too. And what happened? Laser show. So, relax.”
There’s something to be said for a guy who can use “Laser show” as its own sentence while referring to his own hitting to a room full of reporters and all without breaking a smile.
3. Pedroia was stopped at the players' entrance at Coors Field in Denver during the 2007 World Series. The security guard didn't believe Pedroia was a player and told him to get lost. Pedroia showed the guard his players' ID card, but the guard said it was faked.
Francona tells the story, "He says, 'You don't know who I am? You don't know who I am?' " Francona says. " 'Ask Jeff f———- Francis who the f—- I am. I'm the guy who hit a bomb and just ended their f———- season."
Awesome. —Matthew Kory
3. Tony Campana: Base-Stealing
Campana has used his swiftness to great effect on the basepaths, swiping 54 bases in 184 games. He has only been caught five times. FanGraphs credits him with 11 baserunning runs above average despite having only 347 plate appearances—13th in all of baseball in those two seasons.
Unfortunately for the little guy, he’s not much of a slugger. His .272 wOBA ranks him 370th out of 403 hitters with at least 300 plate appearances over the last two years, and his 64 wRC+ is 376th. His ISO of .038 is the second-worst of everybody. He has managed to hit only one career home run—an inside-the-park job against Mike Leake.
For that reason, the Cubs used him as a pinch-runner and late-inning replacement during his stay in Chi-town. He’s currently in Reno, the Triple-A affiliate of the Diamondbacks, where he has only collected three singles in 33 at-bats and yet already has a pair of stolen bases. If young outfielders A.J. Pollock and Alfredo Marte (52 combined games of big league experience) do not perform well in The Show, Campana could get called up as a fourth outfielder and pinch-runner extraordinaire once again. —Dan Rozenson
4. Chris Carter: Power
Carter has legitimate 70-grade power. Though he may be just a .230 or .240 hitter, he could sock 30-plus home runs if given a full season of playing time. That lack of hit tool and K rate will always lead to extreme peaks and valleys. We’ve already seen it on display this season, as he went 3-for-26 with 13 punchouts through seven games before clubbing four round-trippers in a four-game span. The “three true outcomes” guys are rarely boring, and Carter may fit that distinction better than any current major-league player. —Jason Cole
5. Adam Dunn: Power
Still, he's one of only eight players (min. 500 PA) who have a higher ISO than they do batting average, and in that component of isolated power, he sits above the rest of them.
Source: Baseball-Reference.com play index. —Zachary Levine
6. Herb Washington: Speed
He never batted, and he never played the field. After winning the 60-yard-dash at the NCAA Indoor Track Championships in 1970 and being drafted by the NFL's Baltimore Colts, the former Michigan State track star spent all of 1974 and the first month of 1975 with the A's as Charlie Finley's “designated runner.”
Washington made 92 appearances as a rookie and finished seventh in the American League with 29 stolen bases, but was caught 16 times, which placed him fourth in the league. The A's released him after 13 games the following season, ending his baseball career.
Still, Washington's legacy is assured. He will always hold the record for fewest plate appearances by a man to steal at least 31 bases. Nobody else—not even Finley's other running specialists (Allan Lewis, Matt Alexander)—comes close:
In fact, nobody else has ever stolen a single base without accumulating zero career plate appearances. And this is the beauty of Herb Washington. There will never be another like him. —Geoff Young
7. Eddie Gaedel: Plate Discipline
The plate is 17 inches wide; the rest is what you make of it. A better batter's eye you could not find than that of Eddie Gaedel. (Just make sure you pinch-run for him when he gets on!) —Larry Granillo
8. Cory Snyder: Power (And Mullet)
I suppose that since we're talking about tools, and "arm" is a tool, then Snyder had two tools. Snyder had played shortstop on the 1984 U.S. Olympic Team but quickly found himself playing right field in the majors. But the one thing that Snyder was really good at was swinging really hard, just in case he made contact. Snyder wasn't a three true outcomes hitter, because that would have required walking once in a while. In 1987, the year that he was to propel the Indians to the World Series, Snyder hit .236/.273/.456... with 33 home runs. And 166 strikeouts. And to a 7-year-old, that was awesome.