Thursday, April 16, 2015

All A's On Ramirez's Report Card

A player whose skills go beyond the norm of a minor league player, yet fall a bit short of a major league athlete, is described as "4A"--a cut above a player competing in AAA baseball. SB Nation actually refers to these players as "Quad-A" and cites Wily Mo Pena and Brandon Moss among the patron saints of the Quad-A universe.
And then there's the "5A" player, which is how Red Sox first beardsman Mike Napoli describes new mate Hanley Ramirez.
Napoli told the NY Times:
“Hanley’s one of the best hitters I’ve seen. I always tell him he’s 5A — he’s above the big leagues. His swing, the way he backspins balls, it’s just different than how other people hit."
I have reason to believe Napoli has invented this term. Noodling around on the old Google, I see "5A" is a division of Texas schoolboy baseball. I see many mentions of five-tool players--guys who, as any fan of the game will tell you, can hit for average (1) and for power (2), throw (3), run (4) and field (5). I don't see any mention of 5A players.
I lived in apartment 5A in Manhattan's East Village for a dozen years; my email today, a decade since I moved out, has '5A' in it for that reason. To be a 5A player when referencing my old apartment would be to drink and smoke too much, to subsist primary on bacon-egg-and-cheese sandwiches from Cooper Diner, and to have surprisingly fit calves due to the sixth-floor walkup nature of our cramped digs.
But Ramirez, signed for $88 million over four years, is not living in a century-old tenement alongside a gaggle of elderly Ukrainian ladies and a few foreign-born NYU students, and hopefully is mixing in some salads with his bacon-egg-and-cheeses.
Napoli says his 5A teammate is one of a kind:
"Some people just got it. And he’s got it.”