While the MLB features so many great players right now, lest we forget the great players that came before them. This edition of Last Word on Baseball’s All-Decade Team will feature players throughout the entire league. This roster is based on the player’s height and sustained dominance throughout the 2010s.
MLB All-Decade Team
Starting Pitcher: Justin Verlander
There really was no wrong answer here as Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, and Clayton Kershaw all could’ve been deserving for the spot. Verlander’s accolades are tough to argue, however. Winning his second Cy Young Award this past season, with three-second place finishes this decade. Verlander has also earned the triple-crown for pitchers and took home the American League MVP. He also helped the 2017 Houston Astros win the Fall Classic.
Relief Pitcher: Craig Kimbrel
Craig Kimbrel and Aroldis Chapman have battled for most of their careers. The two began in Atlanta and Cincinnati before moving to the American League East with Boston and New York. Through all these seasons Kimbrel holds the slight edge. The righty is a seven-time All-Star and has even received Cy Young and MVP consideration; receiving Cy Young votes five times, and MVP votes three times. He finished as high as fifth and eighth respectively in each award.
Catcher: Buster Posey
The only other competition for this spot was Yadier Molina, who was perhaps the best defensive catcher of the decade; Buster Posey, however, reigns supreme in offensive talent and accolades which gave the Giant the starting honor. He was selected to six All-Star Games, was the NL Rookie of the Year in 2010, and then won the MVP in 2012. The backstop slashed .302/.371/.458 in the 2010s while also earning a Gold Glove honor in 2016. Not to mention three World Series titles.
First Base: Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera narrowly beat out two of the most underrated players in baseball in Joey Votto and Paul Goldschmidt, but it’s pretty tough to beat two American League MVPs and a triple-crown season. Cabrera led all of baseball in OPS amidst two straight MVP Awards in 2012 and 2013. The Tiger has sustained excellence for most of the decade, batting below .313 just three times, and hitting less than 25 bombs just four times.
Second Base: Robinson Cano
While Robinson Cano‘s height probably came and went during his time with the New York Yankees, his sustained production has been forgotten over the past few seasons. It doesn’t necessarily help his case that he was popped for PEDs in 2018 and missed half the season. Nonetheless, the second baseman slashed .300/.359/.496 this decade. Perhaps his most overlooked skill was his ability to remain healthy; he played at least 150 games in eight straight seasons. Jose Altuve was also in consideration for the position, but Cano’s prime has stood the test of time, and although close, has been better than Altuve in doubles, home runs, RBI, and OPS in a 162 game average.
Third Base: Nolan Arenado
Adrian Beltre was a tough player to leave out of this starting lineup, but Nolan Arenado‘s seven seasons in the bigs have been tough to beat. Arenado, perhaps the best defender in all of baseball has won the Gold Glove Award in each of his first seven seasons. The third baseman also has three NL home run crowns under his belt. In a 162 game average, he has 40 doubles per season, 36 home runs, 115 RBI, and .897 OPS — all of which were better than Beltre this decade.
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki
People tend to forget how truly dominant Troy Tulowitzki was for the Colorado Rockies in the first half of the decade. Recency bias plays in the favor of Francisco Lindor as the decision came down to the seasons 2010-2014 for Tulo and the seasons 2015-2019 for Lindor. There wasn’t much of a contest however when stacking those numbers against each other; while Lindor is the better player now, and may turn out to have a better career, the nod goes to Tulowitzki for what he did in the first half of the decade.
Outfield: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Andrew McCutchen
A player like Mike Trout needs no introduction; he is currently the best player in baseball, and is putting together a serious argument to be the best player of all time. Trout has led all of baseball twice in runs scored and has been the leader in OBP and OPS for each of the last three seasons. After only playing in 40 games in 2011, he has been selected to the All-Star game each season after that, has been a Silver Slugger each season besides one, and has never finished below fourth in the American League MVP voting — including three victories.
While Mookie Betts debuted in just 2014 as a second baseman, he has made a big impact since the Boston Red Sox moved him to right field. Since his first full season in 2015 Betts is averaging 30 HR/162 games and is slashing .302/.374/.524. In the last four seasons, he has been selected to four All-Star teams, won four Gold Glove Awards, three Silver Sluggers, and has finished in the top-eight of the AL MVP voting each year — winning the award in 2018 and leading Boston to a title.
The height of Andrew McCutchen‘s game came in the first half of the decade. His dominance from 2011-2015 was tough to match. Through those five seasons, he was selected to five All-Star teams, won four Silver Slugger Awards, and finished top-five in MVP voting four times, winning in 2013. During these seasons the Pirate slashed .302/.396/.509.
Designated Hitter: Nelson Cruz
While some may be disappointed to not see David Ortiz‘s name in this slot, Nelson Cruz‘s 346 home runs this decade leads baseball and earned him this starting spot. Cruz has been an All-Star five of the last seven seasons and has hit at least 37 homers in each of the last six seasons. Ortiz had numbers that could rival Cruz, but the fact that he retired in 2016 and Cruz has been able to continue sustained excellence through this season tipped the scale in his favor.
- OF- Mookie Betts
- OF- Mike Trout
- 3B- Nolan Arenado
- 1B- Miguel Cabrera
- DH- Nelson Cruz
- 2B- Robinson Cano
- OF- Andrew McCutchen
- C- Buster Posey
- SS- Troy Tulowitzki
- C- Yadier Molina
- 1B- Joey Votto
- 2B- Jose Altuve
- 3B- Adrian Beltre
- SS- Francisco Lindor
- DH- David Ortiz
Moving into the 2020s
There will probably be a few players on this roster who will be in consideration for the 2020s All-Decade Team, but for now, all we can do is appreciate the players on this list. As the players get bigger, so will the numbers, and there is a lot to look forward to in the next ten seasons.