Alex Kielar Aug 14th, 2019
The 2019 MLB season is now in its stretch run, closing out the final year of this decade. So I thought it would be fun to put together a team of the best players by position for the 2010s All-Decade Team. A couple picks are definitely no-brainers, with others being tougher to come to a decision. Without further ado, here we go. Let the arguments commence.
Catcher: Buster Posey (SF Giants 2010-19)
This is a very tough decision to make between Posey and Yadier Molina for the catcher of the decade, as both have very strong cases. Posey’s WAR since 2010 of 42.3 leads Molina’s by nearly 12 wins while also having a wRC+ (weighted runs created) for the decade over 30 points ahead of Molina. Posey won the Rookie of the Year award in 2010 while leading his team to their first World Series victory in 56 years, then also in 2012 and 2014. Posey also won the MVP award in 2012 while leading the league with a 171 OPS+. He was selected to six All-Star Games during the decade, received four silver slugger awards, one gold glove, and placed in the MVP voting in three other years after 2012. If I were to give a point system to how close it is between Posey and Molina, I would say Posey edged it out by less than half a point. Molina did win more gold gloves (seven) and was possibly more of a factor on his pitching staff, but Posey was better all-around for the decade.
First Baseman: Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers 2010-19)
Cabrera dominated for most of the decade, and even with his numbers falling off the last couple years, he is still my pick for first baseman of the decade. He won back-to-back MVP awards in 2012 and 2013 while winning the league’s first Triple Crown in 45 years in 2012. He led the league in a few categories during several years, including batting average four times, on-base percentage four times, and slugging two times. He had a down offensive season in 2017 and only played in a number of games in 2018, but he has been able to stay healthy this season and put up decent production for a subpar Detroit team. During the decade, he was selected to seven All-Star Games, won five silver sluggers, and finished in the top ten in MVP voting six times, including his winning seasons. Cabrera is certainly a surefire selection to the Hall of Fame, while he is within striking distance of 3000 hits and 500 home runs in his career.
Second Baseman: Robinson Canó (NY Yankees 2010-13, Seattle Mariners 2014-18, NY Mets ’19)
Despite a subpar 2019 campaign with the Mets and a PED suspension in 2018, Canó still dominated the second base position for most of the decade. Not without plenty of competition, with the likes of Jose Altuve, Ian Kinsler, and Dustin Pedroia putting up solid numbers through the decade. Canó started the decade out getting the starting nod in the All-Star Game in the first five years, while also winning two gold gloves and four silver sluggers. He was selected to the All-Star Game again in 2016 and 2017 and finished in the top ten in MVP voting six times. He has eclipsed 2,500 career hits this season and 3,000 is within reach for his career. Canó has a 53.8 WAR since 2010, which leads all second basemen for the decade, while also leading in All-Star appearances, home runs, RBIs, and a few other categories. While his Hall of Fame case is in deep question, he was very much the second basemen of the decade, with outstanding defense as well. He was top five in total zone runs and range factor/9 in four seasons during the decade, attributing to his outstanding defense.
Third Baseman: Adrian Beltre (Boston Red Sox 2010, Texas Rangers 2011-18)
Third base was probably the most stacked position of the decade, with Josh Donaldson, Evan Longoria, Manny Machado, and Nolan Arenado being very impressive behind Beltre at the position throughout the decade. Beltre had an outstanding decade that secured his spot in the Hall of Fame, most certainly on his first year on the ballot in 2023. Beltre didn’t even really decline, he actually got better, as he didn’t make his first all-star team until 2010 and went on to make the next two after that and again in 2014. He also won three gold gloves and three silver sluggers during the decade, while leading all third basemen in homers, RBIs, runs, and hits, while posting a .307 batting average for the decade.
Shortstop: Elvis Andrus (Texas Rangers 2010-19)
The shortstop position was one of the lighter positions for the first half of the decade, as young studs Carlos Correa and Franciso Lindor made their debuts in 2015. Andrus had the best all-around decade at the position, even while never really turning into the superstar the Rangers had hoped. He made two All-Star Games since coming up in 2009, a year in which he was runner-up for rookie of the year. He hasn’t blown anyone away with his offensive numbers, his most home runs being 20 in 2017, but he also brings speed to the table, stealing over 20 bases every season except last season. He has been a consistent player for the Rangers especially during their World Series years of 2010 and 2011, of which they came up short.
Left Fielder: Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers 2010-19)
While Braun won’t have a case with the Hall of Fame with ties to PEDs like Canó, he was one of the most dominant outfielders for the majority of the decade. He has hit nearly .300 for the decade and has hit over 15 homers nine of the 10 seasons, while also bringing sneaky speed, stealing at least 11 bases in eight seasons. Braun won the MVP award in 2011, slashing .332/.397/.597 with 33 home runs, 111 RBIs, and 33 stolen bases, and then finished runner-up in 2012. Braun, even now at 35, has given the Brewers solid play throughout the decade, even if not MVP-level, as he has made four All-Star Games and won three silver sluggers.
Center Fielder: Mike Trout (LA Angels 2011-19)
There is no argument at all for this one, as Mike Trout gets the award for player of the decade. An argument can be made for Trout to win the MVP award every year this decade, and he is the front-runner this year, looking to lock down his third. He finished top four every season, won the rookie of the year in 2012, and has made the All-Star Game every single season. There isn’t much else to say about Trout, other than that he has not only been one of the most dominant players of the decade but of all-time, through his first eight MLB seasons. He is only 27 and will probably make this list for the 2020s. The only question is if he will ever reach the all-time goal of winning the World Series.
Right Fielder: Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins 2010-17, NY Yankees 2018-19
While Stanton has struggled to stay healthy, especially this season, only playing in nine games so far, he has still dominated almost every offensive category for the position for the decade. He has hit at least 22 home runs every season besides, of course, this season, his most being a massive 59 in his MVP 2017 season. In that season, he also drove in 132 runs while slugging a league-leading .631.
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz (Boston Red Sox 2010-16)
A big piece to the Red Sox winning the World Series in 2013, Big Papi was far and above the best DH of the decade, even of all-time. Even in his final season at age 40 in 2016, Ortiz dominated, leading the league with 48 homers, 127 RBIs, and slugging .620. He was selected to five All-Star Games during the decade while taking home three silver sluggers.
Starter #1: Clayton Kershaw (LA Dodgers 2010-19)
Even without the Postseason success, Kershaw has been the most dominant starter of the decade. He was selected to seven All-Star Games, won three Cy Young Awards (his first at age 23 in 2011), led the league in ERA five times (including having a sub-1.83 THREE times), and won the MVP Award in 2015, the last pitcher to do so. That season he struck out 301 batters, the first pitcher to 300 punchouts since 2002.
Starter #2: Max Scherzer (Detroit Tigers 2010-14, Washington Nationals 2015-19)
Scherzer seems to keep getting better, no matter what is thrown at him. He is on the injured list as of now, but he even pitched with a black eye earlier this season after breaking his nose. He does it all. He has also won three Cy Young Awards in the decade, one in the AL, and two in the NL, and has been selected to six All-Star Games. He has also finished in the top ten in MVP voting three times. Scherzer has led the league in strikeouts and WHIP in three seasons, and also leads in strikeouts this season. He has also led in wins four times, and despite the injury, this season should still be a front-runner for the Cy Young.
Starter #3: Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers 2010-2017, Houston Astros 2017-19)
Verlander, like Scherzer, seems to have gotten better with age and has been very dominant this decade. Most recently, he led the Astros to their very first World Series victory in 2017, following getting traded there at the waiver deadline on August 31. He was nearly flawless in the playoffs that year and was pretty much rejuvenated after not having too great a season in Detroit. In the second year of the decade, Verlander dominated so much that he won his first and only Cy Young Award AND the MVP, first to do so since Roger Clemens in 1986. He has been selected to five All-Star Games in the decade and led the league in strikeouts four times.
Relief Pitcher: Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta Braves 2010-14, San Diego Padres 2015, Boston Red Sox 2016-18, Chicago Cubs ’19)
In Kimbrel’s debut season of 2010, he only gave up one earned run in 20.2 innings, while striking out 40, and that was a sign of things to come. Since becoming the Braves closer in 2011, he has saved at least 31 games in every season, including 50 in 2013, as he won the rookie of the year that season. He made the All-Star Game seven times, recorded over 80 strikeouts every full season, and finished in the top ten in Cy Young voting five times. He was pure dominance for a majority of the decade, only allowing a .154 opponent batting average, the lowest of all-time by a reliever with at least 450 innings pitched.
Have any comments or arguments about my list? Tweet me @AlexKielar to discuss anyone you think I missed.
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