Every year, Baseball America asks managers and coaches around the major and minor leagues about the best tools in their respective leagues. Every year, it's fascinating. The Giants placed a few players in the polls, and we come to celebrate them.
Best hitter: Buster Posey (third place in National League)
Best pickoff move: Madison Bumgarner (second place)
Best defensive shortstop: Brandon Crawford (third place)
Best manager: Bruce Bochy (first place, dammit)
Paul Goldschmidt and Bryce Harper were ahead of Posey, which is hard to argue with, but note that neither one of them catches or leads his danged pitching staff. They sit there in the field like pampered weenies, waiting for the ball to come to them. The nerve.
It's hard for me to imagine Adeiny Hechavarria being better than Crawford, but I don't watch him every day. Here's hoping the Braves trade Andrelton Simmons to the AL so Crawford has a chance to stop being the Tim Raines to his defensive Rickey Henderson.
Bochy will win this every year until he retires, by the by.
Well, dang. Although it's not like Matt Duffy or Joe Panik would have a best tool if they were still stuck in the minors, so maybe it's easy to read too much into this.
Best defensive second baseman: Kelby Tomlinson
Note that for all the minor leaguers, there was only a first-place designation, not a ranking of the top three.
Now, you've seen a handful of Tomlinson innings. He's *just* missed a couple of hard-hit balls, and he had trouble getting the ball out of his mitt on a double play on Thursday night. He probably didn't strike you as the second coming of Roberto Alomar. Still, it's a good lesson: Do you know what it takes to be the best defensive second baseman in the Eastern League? The capacity to play a cromulent second base in the majors.
That's it. If you can play in the majors, you can probably be the best defensive second baseman in the Eastern League. This is because major league baseball is hard. And don't you forget it.
Best fastball: Ray Black
Best reliever: Jake Smith
The Giants sure do make relief prospects. It'd be cooler if they'd developed a freaking outfielder better than Marvin Benard in the last 30 years, but they just might have a pretty neat homegrown bullpen soon. Smith is a 25-year-old in San Jose, so he isn't exactly a baby, but considering he was a 48th-rounder, you can understand if his development is taking a little bit. He had control issues up until this year, but now that he's throwing strikes, it isn't hard to see him in the majors in September next year.
Best pitching prospect: Sam Coonrod
Best breaking pitch: Sam Coonrod
Best reliever: Rodolfo Martinez
I'd wager that teams were trying to get Coonrod thrown into every deal at the deadline. Here's what he looks like:
That best breaking pitch is a nasty slider, it looks like. He still has a heapin' help of development left, but if you're going to have a prospect win a poll, "Best pitching prospect" is probably the best one.
If you're wondering about past polls, I collected them all a couple years ago.
Five years later, they won the World Series. The Aristocrats!