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Ranking the best pitching, hitting and fielding tools in MLB

It's best tools time! For the fourth straight year, Keith Law lays out his rankings (and reasoning) for the players with the best tools in baseball, evaluating the top pitchers across five categories, as well as the top hitting, speed and fielding tools.

2017 best tools: Hitting | Pitching | Fielding


Best fastball

1. Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals

2. Gerrit Cole, Houston Astros

3. Justin Verlander, Houston Astros

4. Jacob deGrom, New York Mets

5. Chad Green, New York Yankees

Cole's fastball has made the biggest leap with his move to Houston, as the Astros' R&D department showed him that he got better results by throwing more four-seamers and throwing them up in the zone than by emphasizing two-seamers to try to get ground balls.

Green isn't the Yankees' hardest thrower, but he gets the best results on his fastball. FanGraphs has Green's fastball as the fourth-most valuable by any pitcher, starter or reliever, since the start of last year. He doesn't have a clearly above-average second pitch and is throwing almost exclusively fastballs this year, but the pitch remains very effective.

What's surprising, to me at least, is how poorly Aroldis Chapman's fastball has played for its velocity the past two years: By FanGraphs' pitch values, it has been less valuable than the fastballs of Scott Alexander, Brandon Kintzler and Seth Lugo since the start of 2017. No, velocity isn't everything, but it's something to see that even exceptional velocity isn't that big of an advantage.