In just 12 days, the 2010s are officially over and we enter the roaring twenties, where we will promptly bring bad big bands, flapper girls, speakeasies and the Sultan of Swat dominating opposing pitchers for the New York Yankees. With MLB free agency slowing down a bit, it’s time to take a look at our all-decade team for the MLB:
Catcher: Buster Posey (San Francisco Giants)
To me, this one was a no-brainer. The rise of Posey was the catalyst towards the San Francisco Giants winning the World Series in 2010 – their first of three this decade. Posey would go on to make six All-Star teams, win four Silver Sluggers, one Gold Glove, NL Rookie of the Year and NL Most Valuable Player. He slugged 140 home runs while providing excellent defense for the Giants.
First Base: Miguel Cabrera (Detroit Tigers)
One of the pillars of the early-decade Tigers team that I loved, it’s a shame Cabrera was never able to win a World Series with them (luckily, he won one as a rookie in 2003 with the Marlins). Cabrera was named an All-Star seven times in the 2010s, won five Silver Sluggers and won back-to-back AL Most Valuable Player awards. While not known for his defensive prowess, he showed he wasn’t a liability for Detroit when they moved him to third base following the acquisition of Prince Fielder. In his most dominant years (2010-16), he owned a .330/.414/.582 slash line, leading the league in OPS twice and averaging 34 home runs per season.
Second Base: Jose Altuve (Houston Astros)
It’s hard to believe that Altuve is only 29 because it feels like he has been with the organization forever. Altuve was a key cog to the Astros rise to prominence, but he is also the one player who was around during the dark days of the early part of this decade, making his team debut in 2011. Altuve has made six All-Star teams and was named the 2017 AL Most Valuable Player to go along with his five Silver Sluggers and one Gold Glove. He has led the league in hits four times, stolen bases twice and batting average three times. Last season, we saw power we have never seen from the short statured (he is only -foot-6) second baseman before, as he hit 31 home runs and owned a .550 slugging percentage – both career highs.
Third Base: Adrian Beltre (Boston Red Sox/Texas Rangers)
As much as I wanted to give this to Nolan Arenado, Beltre deserved the nod over him. Already into his 30s when the decade began, Beltre would make four All-Star teams between Boston and Texas and win a trio of Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers. For the decade, he slashed .307/.358/.514 and ultimately smacked his 3,000th career hit before retiring after the 2018 season.
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki (Colorado Rockies/Toronto Blue Jays/New York Yankees)
Fraancisco Lindor has a strong case, but he debuted in the middle of the decade while Tulo was just entering his prime. When all was said and done, Tulowitzki made five All-Star teams this decade with a pair of Gold Gloves and Silver Sluggers while playing a majority of his career in the friendly confines of Coors Field before Colorado shipped him to Toronto. For the decade, Tulowitzki slashed .293/.363/.506 with 160 home runs before retiring last July following a brief cup of coffee with the Yankees.
Left Field: Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers)
Justin Upton was heavily considered, but ultimately, we opted for Braun, who won the NL Most Valuable Player in 2011 and was a runner-up the following year. The Hebrew Hammer would make four All-Star teams and take home three Silver Sluggers while mashing 241 home runs and owning a slash line of .294/.359/.519 in the decade. He led the National League in OPS in 2011-12.
Center Field: Mike Trout (Los Angeles Angels)
By all accounts, Mike Trout is the face of baseball now, and it’s funny to see it now considering how it all began for him. Drafted out of high school in the same class that was headlined by Stephen Strasburg, Trout wasn’t selected until the No. 25 pick, which the Angels received as compensation from the New York Yankees because the Yankees signed Mark Teixeira. Trout wasn’t even the first outfielder selected by the Angels, Randal Grichuk was drafted by the Halos one pick before him. But Trout has set the baseball world on fire ever since. He won AL Rookie of the Year in 2012 and finished behind only Miguel Cabrera for the league’s ost valuable player that season. He would again be the bridesmaid one year later before finally taking home the hardware in 2014, his first of three AL Most Valuable Player awards. He has never finished lower than fourth place for the award, has made the All-Star team each year since 2012 and has led the American League in OPS in four of the last five seasons. He has won seven Silver Sluggers and arguably the scariest part about all of this is that he is still just 27 years old.
Right Field: Giancarlo Stanton (Miami Marlins/New York Yankees)
The outfielder formerly known as Mike was one of two legitimate superstars on Miami’s roster in the 2010s, making four All-Star teams, winning the NL Most Valuable Player Award (and finishing second another year) and launching 59 home runs in a season before new ownership decided they could no longer afford the megadeal he was given and traded him to the Yankees. Injuries cost Stanton most of his 2019 season, but he is expected to be a serious piece of the puzzle as they make their championship run. Stanton was named an All-Star four times and won a pair of Silver Sluggers.
Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz (Texas Rangers/Baltimore Orioles/Seattle Mariners/Minnesota Twins)
Quick question: Which player hit the most home runs between 2010-19? If you answered Nelson Cruz, you are correct as he hit 346 balls out of the park during the course of the decade. In his lone season with Baltimore, he led the American League with 40 home runs and made five All-Star teams and won three Silver Sluggers in the decade.
Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander (Detroit Tigers/Houston Astros)
Probably the most surprising thing about Verlander this decade is that he only won two AL Cy Young awards, the second of which just occurred. He finished second three times, including a loss to Rick Porcello in which his wife, Kate Upton, has some serious objections. He would win the AL Most Valuable Player award in 2011 on the heels of a season in which he won the triple crown. In 2017, he was traded to the Astros where he finally won a World Series ring.
Starting Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw (Los Angeles Dodgers)
Kershaw and Verlander are the only two pitchers this decade to win most valuable player with Kershaw capturing the NL award in 2014 when he had a microscopic ERA of 1.77. Kershaw would take home the NL Cy Young three times and finish in the top three an additional three times and be named an All-Star eight times. In 2015, he struck out 301 batters. Just about everything has gone right for Kershaw except for postseason success.
Starting Pitcher: Max Scherzer (Detroit Tigers/Washington Nationals)
After emerging as a legitimate ace behind Justin Verlander in Detroit, Scherzer would go on to win his first Cy Young award in 2013 before signing with the Nationals two years later, where he would win two more Cy Young awards in his new league. He has finished top three in the Cy Young race in each of the last four seasons and averaged an eye-popping 245 strikesouts per season this decade. The seven-time All-Star was finally able to capture a World Series champonship last fall.
Starting Pitcher: Jacob deGrom (New York Mets)
No player in baseball suffered more from a lack of run support than deGrom in 2018, who would go just 10-9 despite an ERA of 1.70. The poor performance by the team, however, did not block him from winning the NL Cy Young award. He would win the Cy Young again one year later, though his record only marginally improved to 11-8. deGrom also won NL Rookie of the Year in 2014 and has been named an All-Star three times while helping pitch the Mets to an NL pennant in 2015.
Staring Pitcher: Corey Kluber (Cleveland Indians)
The now former Indian was nothing more than a throwaway piece in a trade by the Padres, but he has definitely turned into a player San Diego wish they never gave up on. Kluber won two Al Cy Young awards as a member of the Tribe and was a finalist on two other occasions. He has aso made three All-Star teams.
Closer: Craig Kimbrel (Atlanta Braves/San Diego Padres/Boston Red Sox/Chicago Cubs)
It’s surprising to see how well-traveled Kimbrel is considering he is one of the most dominant relievers in baseball. Overall, he has slammed the door 346 times this decade, leading the league in saves each year between 2011-14, winning NL Rookie of the Year, being named to seven All-Star teams abd winning the World Series with Boston in 2019.
Closer: Aroldis Chapman (Cincinnati Reds/New York Yankees/Chicago Cubs)
Armed with the fastest fastball in baseball history, Chapman would blow by everyone with his heater before fooling his opponents with a slider that touched 96 miles per hour. Chapman was traded to the Yankees before being flipped to the Cubs and winning a World Series … only to return back to the Yankees as a free agent. Chapman would make six All-Star teams and close 273 games throughout the decade.