MLB All-Decade Team

Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout stands under the lights of Safeco Field as he waits for an at-bat duirng a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

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Los Angeles Angels' Mike Trout stands under the lights of Safeco Field as he waits for an at-bat duirng a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Friday, Sept. 26, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Baseball in my opinion, is the toughest sport to maintain performance at a high level for a long period of time.  Players can make All-Star teams one year and a few years later be forgotten.  So for a player to play at a high level for a whole decade, it is quite an accomplishment.  Here are my picks for the MLB All-Decade team for the 2010s.  Keep in mind, only accomplishments and statistics from this decade are considered, not for an entire career.

Starting Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw

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Los Angeles Dodgers starting pitcher Clayton Kershaw pitches to a San Diego Padres batter during the second inning of a baseball game Saturday, May 6, 2017, in San Diego. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

A very close race for the best starting pitcher between Kershaw and Justin Verlander.  Both starters have won MVPs, when it is very rare for pitchers to win MVP, but Kershaw won three Cy Young awards while Verlander has two.  Kershaw has also been named to 8 All-Star teams while Verlander has been named to 6.  Kershaw has a 2.31 ERA this decade compared to Verlander’s 3.10.  Also when Kershaw took the mound this decade, the probability of his team winning compared to Verlander’s team are better as Kershaw’s win-loss percentage is 71.9% compared to Verlander’s 65.4%.  Both will go down as two of the best pitchers in history, but Kershaw has been slightly more dominant this decade and is in the discussion for best left-handed pitcher of all-time.

Closing Pitcher: Craig Kimbrel

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Atlanta Braves relief pitcher Craig Kimbrel prepares to wind up and deliver in the ninth inning of the baseball game against the New York Mets, Wednesday, April 9, 2014, in Atlanta. The Braves won the game 4-3. (AP Photo/Todd Kirkland)

In a post-Mariano Rivera era, Kimbrel became the best closer of the decade.  Kimbrel has the most saves of the decade with 346 saves with a 90.3 save percentage.  That percentage is better than Alrodis Chapman’s and Kenley Jansen’s percentages, the other two closers I considered.  Kimbrel won rookie of the year after he led the NL in saves in 2011.  He followed that with leading the NL in saves from 2012-2014.  The 7-time All-Star was the closer on the 2018 Boston Red Sox team that won the World Series.

Catcher: Buster Posey

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San Francisco Giants’ Buster Posey follows through on an RBI double off Washington Nationals starting pitcher Max Scherzer during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 31, 2017, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

Posey burst on to the MLB scene in 2010 in grand fashion as that year he was the starting catcher on the Giants, who won the World Series, and Posey won the Rookie of the Year.  The Giants won two more championships this decade with Posey as one the core players in the middle of the lineup.  In 2012 he won MVP as he captured the batting title.  He has been selected to 6 All-Star teams and started 4 of them, along with earning 4 silver sluggers and a gold glove.  Yadier Molina was Posey’s main competitor for this spot, but I felt like Posey has had a bigger impact on his team this decade as Posey’s WAR (wins above replacement) is 42.2 compared to Molina’s 31.9.

First Base: Miguel Cabrera

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Detroit Tigers’ Miguel Cabrera bats during the fourth inning of a baseball game against the Seattle Mariners, Friday, Aug. 15, 2014 in Detroit. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

Despite the recent struggles, Cabrera finds himself as my choice for the best first baseman of the decade.  He had the best individual season of the decade as he captured the triple crown in 2012, the first triple crown since 1967.  Cabrera won MVP that year and won MVP honors again in 2013.  He was an All-Star from 2010-16 and won 5 silver sluggers this decade.  He led the league in OPS twice and OBP twice as Cabrera was a premier superstar before battling injuries in the later part of the decade.

Second Base: Robinson Cano

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Robinson Cano in action against the Tampa Bay Rays in a baseball game Tuesday, May 13, 2014, in Seattle. (AP Photo)

Another tight race between two guys, as obviously Jose Altuve was heavily considered for this spot.  If Altuve entered the league earlier, he probably would have been the choice for second base, but Cano’s prime started back in 2010 which helped his numbers.  Both hitters hit for an average of .300 or higher, but Cano had over a hundred more home runs and over 300 more RBIs than Altuve.  Cano has seven all-star appearances compared to Altuve’s 6 and Cano has one more gold glove than Altuve.

Third Base: Nolan Arenado

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Colorado Rockies third baseman Nolan Arenado (28) in the eighth inning of a baseball game Thursday, April 27, 2017, in Denver. Washington won 16-5. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

I’m not sure if there is anyone else that can call themselves the best offensive player and defensive player at his position other than Nolan Arenado.  He made is debut in 2013, but still beat out the competition to be the best third baseman of the decade, with the biggest competitor being Adrian Beltre.  Arenado has won a gold glove every year of his career including three platinum gloves.  Among all active third basemen, Arenado has the best fielding percentage, and the third best fielding percentage all-time for third basemen.  He has finished in the top ten of MVP voting every year since 2015 along with being All-Star every year since 2015.

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki

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Colorado Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki throws out Arizona Diamondbacks’ Ryan Roberts during the fourth inning of a baseball game Wednesday, May 16, 2012, in Denver. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey)

With Derek Jeter retiring in 2014 and Troy Tulowitzki falling off in the back end of the decade, combined with young stars, such as Carlos Correa, Corey Seager, Francisco Lindor, and, Xander Bogaerts, that didn’t debut until the middle of the decade, the choice for shortstop was difficult.  All things considered I went with Troy Tulowitzki who was rostered for the entire decade.  With the Rockies, Tulo was nothing short of a superstar as he won a couple of gold gloves and silver sluggers and it looked like he was going to be the next big thing at shortstop after Jeter retired.   Tulowitzi was traded to the Blue Jays where his career took a turn as he went on a decline and battled injuries.  Nevertheless, he was a stud for a good amount of the decade as takes the spot at shortstop.

Left Field: Ryan Braun

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Milwaukee Brewers’ Ryan Braun (8) hits an RBI-double off Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Raisel Iglesias in the ninth inning of a baseball game, Monday, April 1, 2019, in Cincinnati. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

Braun, a player with much controversy to his name, is my pick for this spot.  Braun won the MVP back in 2011 and was the runner-up in 2012.  He has been named to 4 all-star games and earned three silver sluggers in the decade.  Besides 2013, when Braun was suspended for PED use, he has been consistent statistically, putting up a .294 batting average for the decade along with 811 RBIs.  I considered Andrew McCutchen for this spot but, Braun has more home runs, RBIs, stolen bases along with a higher batting average and OPS.

Center Field: Mike Trout

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FILE – In this June 10, 2012, file photo, Los Angeles Angels’ Mike Trout dives safely back to first to beat the tag by the Colorado Rockies during the fifth inning of an interleague baseball game in Denver. Trout unanimously won the American League Rookie of the Year Monday, Nov. 12. (AP Photo/Jack Dempsey, File)

Let’s just say it as it is, Trout is the best player of the decade by far.  Trout has won MVP three times, but has finished in the top two of MVP voting 7 out of his 8 seasons in the MLB (not counting 2011 where he had 123 at-bats and did not qualify as a rookie).   He won rookie of the year in 2012 and has been named an all-star every season since, including 6 starts in the mid-summer classic.  Despite not winning a gold glove, Trout is no slouch in the outfield as some of his best highlights are in the outfield.  Trout is the perfect 5-tool players and is only 28, one of the reasons he landed a 12-year $430 million contract from the Angels, the richest contract in sports history.

Right Field: Bryce Harper

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Washington Nationals’ Bryce Harper comes out of the dugout to celebrate Ryan Zimmerman’s three-run home run in the eighth inning in Game 2 of baseball’s National League Division Series against the Chicago Cubs, at Nationals Park, Saturday, Oct. 7, 2017, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

Harper made his long awaited debut in 2012 and did not disappoint with a strong rookie campaign as he won rookie of the year and made the All-Star team.  Since then he has made 5 more All-Star teams and upgraded his rookie of the year for an MVP in 2015.  Harper became a franchise player for the Nationals until he hit free agency and landed a 13-year $330 million contract to be a franchise player for the Philadelphia Phillies.

Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz

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Seattle Mariners designated hitter Nelson Cruz (23) in the ninth inning of an interleague baseball game Monday, May 29, 2017, in Denver. Seattle won 6-5. (AP Photo/David Zalubowski)

With David Ortiz retiring after the 2016 campaign, there was only one real choice for this spot.  Nelson Cruz has spent a decent amount of time in the outfield, but has emerged as one of the best DHs in the league.  In 2017 and 2019, he won the silver slugger award at DH along with the Edgar Martinez Outstanding Designated Hitter Award twice.  He tallied up 346 home runs and 961 RBIs this decade while batting  .281 and making 5 All-Star teams.

 

Stats and research from https://www.baseball-reference.com/