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Three Yankees earn Best Tools designation from Baseball America

Brett Gardner, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera earned accolades from MLB managers for being at the top of three separate Best Tools categories.

Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODA

Baseball America has released their 2013 Best Tools survey voted upon by Major League Baseball managers and three Yankees managed to top three different categories. Brett Gardner was voted as the best bunter, Andy Pettitte was voted to have the best pickoff move in the big leagues, and Mariano Rivera was voted MLB's best reliever.

It seems as though Gardner's speed has confused managers around the league into thinking he's actually a good bunter. Every once in a while Gardner can lay down a good one and other times he can even use his speed to beat out one that isn't great. Naming him MLB's best bunter, though? That's a stretch. A big stretch. Elvis Andrus and Erick Aybar were tied for second in the category. Gardner did not place in the top three on the fastest baserunner list, which went to Mike Trout, Rajai Davis, and Jacoby Ellsbury. Trout, Adam Jones, and Austin Jackson were voted as the best defensive outfielders in the league.

Andy Pettitte may be struggling this season, but his pickoff move has become pretty legendary among pitchers in baseball. Balk or not, it has been very effective for him over the years and MLB managers have voted it as the best of the majors in 2013. If he's going to let a lot of people on base, at least he has a crafty way of getting them out once they reach first base.

In a vote that was absolutely no surprise, Mariano Rivera was voted as the best reliever in Baseball. The Yankees long-time closer is going out on the highest of high notes this season, showing that he could likely continue dominating for years to come if he had the desire to. Rivera is the closer that all closers will be compared to, likely for the rest of time. What he has done in his career is nothing short of extraordinary and the fact that he is about to walk away as still one of the best is a fitting conclusion for the greatest of all time.

Robinson Cano finished second behind Dustin Pedroia as MLB's best defensive second baseman. This has been a hot topic of discussion over the last few years, but Cano's defense has not always been highly rated by advanced metrics and Pedroia has the reputation of being super gritty with his diving plays, so this should come as no surprise. Cano makes a lot of plays look easy that other second basemen likely couldn't make and that's plenty good for a player as offensively talented as he is.

Baseball America also released the Best Tools survey for each level of Minor League Baseball, but the Yankees were the only team to not place a single prospect in the rankings. You can use that to make assumptions about the current state of the farm system, which by all accounts has not had a banner year. There is definitely some talent but it hasn't managed to really distinguish itself among the competition in 2013.

You can view the complete list of rankings on Baseball America's site here.

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