The Bit-Too-Soon 2010's All-Decade Team

March 10, 2019
 
Hitting the Century Mark
 
This article marks a personal milestone for me. This is the 100th "article" I’ve posted as a writer for Bill James Online. Now, to be fair, not all of the entries I’ve posted have been full fledged articles – some of the entries have been reminders to vote in our various projects and some have been invitations to submit an entry in one of our contests, but, still, it marks my 100th post in the articles section on this site.
 
In any event, it’s been a blast, and still a little surreal to me that I evolved from a Bill James fan to a Bill James Online contributor. I’m proud of the 100, although to put it in perspective, Bill has posted 727 articles. If articles were home runs, Bill’s total would be akin to Babe Ruth, and mine would be John "I Ain’t an Athlete, Lady" Kruk, a player to whom I bear more than a passing resemblance. 
 
Of course, when I post #101, I will have reached Honus Wagner’s total, so I got that going for me, which is nice. I’m sure I’ve submitted a few duds in there, but hopefully you’ve enjoyed reading my entries over the last 3+ years.
 
The 2010’s All-Decade Team
 
One of the features that I loved in both of the Bill James Historical Abstracts was the inclusion of the "Decade" teams. You know, the 1960’s All Stars, the 1970’s All Stars, etc.
 
Now, in one sense, there’s nothing magical about a decade as we normally define them. Assembling a team that represents 1960-1969 is no more meaningful than putting together one that covers 1965-1974. It’s still a 10-year period either way.
 
Except that, well, there is something different about it. A decade defines the times. It helps us compartmentalize, isolate, and characterize an era by putting a consistent beginning and end to each 10-year period.
 
When you think of the Sixties in a popular culture sense, what do you think of? JFK? Woodstock? Vietnam?
 
The Seventies? Maybe Watergate? "Saturday Night Fever"?
 
The Eighties? I don’t know….it’s a bit of a blur. Pac-Man?????
 
In any case, it’s the same way with baseball decade teams. When I think of the Sixties, it’s Gibson and Koufax, dominant pitchers who ruled the World Series. The Seventies, for me, was all about the Big Red Machine of Rose, Bench, Morgan, and Perez. For others, it might be the "Swingin’ A’s" of Reggie and Rollie, Catfish and Campy.
 
So, what I wanted to do was to come up with my all-decade team of the 2010’s. Now, of course, the decade is not over yet, but what’s the fun of waiting until the last minute? We’re 90% of the way through the decade, and I think we have a pretty good idea of who belongs, although of course 2019 could help swing a closely contested position.
 
Now, I should mention that, even though I’ll use WAR (in this case, fWAR, since I used Fangraphs.com for most of my data downloads) to help me narrow the field of candidates, this is more than just simply an exercise of seeing who accumulated the most WAR during the decade. I’m using WAR as a first cut, to separate the wheat from the chaff, but it won’t be the determining factor. I’m looking for the best players, sure, but also players who helped define the decade, who had the most impact, who made their mark on seasons, awards, honors, and championships.
 
I am going to just pick a single All Star team rather than an AL team and an NL team. For each position, I’ll present the top contenders, and then my selections (primary and runner up), along with who I think was the best defensive player at that position during the decade.  In assessing the best defenders, I’ll take into account not only Gold Gloves and defensive metrics, but also the results of the Fielding Bible awards, which provides an alternate to the Gold Glove award and strives to leverage statistical analysis in bestowing its honors.
 
In addition to total games played and total fWAR generated during the decade, I’ll also include several "yellow" columns to represent some other basic stats in "seasonal notation" (that is, each stat is expressed in terms of "per 162 games", since this is how Bill presented his teams in the Historical Abstract).
 
Let’s begin, going around the diamond. If you’re the kind who likes to cut to the chase, I’ll put a summary at the end of the article.
 
Catcher
 
The contenders:
Name
G
fWAR
fWAR / 162
PA
HR
R
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
Buster Posey
1,137
39.1
5.6
668
19
79
90
3
.307
.376
.466
Yadier Molina
1,201
29.4
4.0
640
15
63
80
6
.289
.338
.426
Russell Martin
1,040
23.4
3.6
634
21
74
74
6
.234
.339
.395
Jonathan Lucroy
1,101
22.8
3.4
624
15
66
75
4
.277
.337
.421
Joe Mauer
1,159
22.1
3.1
694
10
84
74
3
.294
.376
.412
Salvador Perez
942
17.7
3.0
643
24
66
87
1
.266
.297
.442
 
My Selection: Buster Posey
Runner up: Yadier Molina
Best Defender: Yadier Molina
 
This is really a 2-horse race between Posey and Molina. 
 
Mauer did most of his damage in the prior decade, and he split his duties between catcher and first base in this decade. Perez is a 6-time All Star and 5-time Gold Glove winner, so he was certainly in contention for the best defender.
 
Posey is the best all-around catcher, and my selection for the team. In the decade he had an MVP, 6 All Star appearances, a Gold Glove, a batting title, and, perhaps most importantly, led 3 championship teams, always a nice selling point on a catcher’s Hall of Fame resume.
 
Molina would be a solid choice as well. He’s not quite the offensive threat Posey is, but he did become a more than adequate threat as his career progressed, and he’s one of the all-time great defensive catchers – his 9 Gold Gloves are surpassed only by Ivan Rodriguez (13) and Johnny Bench (10). And, he has two championship rings of his own
 
I fully expect both Posey and Molina to end up in the Hall of Fame.
 
First Base
 
The contenders:
 
Name
G
fWAR
fWAR / 162
PA
HR
R
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
Joey Votto
1,269
47.8
6.1
707
28
98
91
8
.311
.436
.528
Miguel Cabrera
1,224
43.5
5.8
694
34
100
117
2
.321
.405
.559
Paul Goldschmidt
1,092
36.3
5.4
698
31
105
105
18
.297
.398
.532
Freddie Freeman
1,188
30.8
4.2
683
26
93
93
5
.293
.378
.497
Anthony Rizzo
1,061
25.3
3.9
696
29
88
97
8
.270
.369
.484
Carlos Santana
1,277
24.7
3.1
693
25
83
85
5
.247
.363
.442
Adrian Gonzalez
1,231
22.5
3.0
672
24
78
102
1
.291
.355
.473
Albert Pujols
1,293
17.6
2.2
702
33
88
109
6
.270
.333
.480
Chris Davis
1,103
13.7
2.0
659
36
85
92
3
.234
.322
.468
 
My Selection: Miguel Cabrera
Runner up: Joey Votto
Best Defender: Paul Goldschmidt
 
Like catcher, this roster slot really comes down to 2 players – Cabrera and Votto, although Goldschmidt is a strong third candidate.
 
Votto has an edge in both fWAR and fWAR/162, and also is one of the great on-base artists of all time.   He also has an MVP and other high MVP finishes. 
 
However, my pick is Cabrera, who was a "Black Ink" monster, leading the league multiple times during the decade in batting average, OBP, Slugging, doubles, and RBI. He also bagged a Triple Crown and 2 MVP awards (although he won both of those while playing primarily third base).
 
I went with Goldschmidt over Eric Hosmer for the best defender at first base, even though Hosmer had 4 Gold Gloves to Goldschmidt’s 3.
 
Second Base
 
The contenders:
Name
G
fWAR
fWAR / 162
PA
HR
R
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
Robinson Cano
1,344
45.3
5.5
700
27
94
101
4
.303
.363
.501
Dustin Pedroia
1,025
32.9
5.2
733
15
94
81
14
.297
.364
.434
Jose Altuve
1,119
31.6
4.6
711
14
93
67
36
.316
.365
.453
Ben Zobrist
1,307
35.7
4.4
686
15
89
75
11
.268
.359
.423
Ian Kinsler
1,286
34.8
4.4
725
21
107
77
19
.268
.334
.430
Brian Dozier
1,002
22.1
3.6
712
28
98
83
16
.246
.324
.444
Chase Utley
1,046
22.9
3.5
627
15
78
68
11
.256
.338
.411
Daniel Murphy
1,076
23.0
3.5
668
16
84
84
9
.303
.346
.462
Neil Walker
1,156
21.9
3.1
657
20
79
80
4
.269
.339
.432
 
My Selection: Robinson Cano
Runner up: Jose Altuve
Best Defender: Dustin Pedroia
 
As far as the best overall second baseman of the decade, this should have been an easy choice for Cano, but his 2018 suspension put a bit of a cloud over his career. Still, he’s my selection.   In the first half of the decade, he was a consistent All Star selection and finished high up in the MVP balloting every year.
 
It was a bit of a tossup between Pedroia and Altuve for the runner up, but I went with 2017 AL MVP Altuve. Pedroia has an MVP award as well, but he won his in the prior decade. 
 
I don’t think there was one second baseman who really separated himself from the crowd defensively. 10 different second basemen (5 NL, 5 AL) have won Gold Gloves in the decade. Cano, Pedroia, Kinsler, D.J. LeMahieu, and Brandon Phillips each won multiple times. A bit of a coin flip, but I went with Pedroia for defensive honors.
 
 
Third Base
 
The contenders:
Name
G
fWAR
fWAR / 162
PA
HR
R
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
Josh Donaldson
883
36.5
6.7
700
33
102
101
6
.275
.367
.507
Kris Bryant
559
23.1
6.7
716
31
110
94
9
.285
.385
.515
Adrian Beltre
1,252
42.7
5.5
680
29
90
104
1
.307
.358
.514
Anthony Rendon
770
25.8
5.4
690
21
96
88
8
.285
.361
.469
Manny Machado
926
30.2
5.3
713
31
91
90
9
.282
.335
.487
Jose Ramirez
641
20.9
5.3
656
22
97
78
24
.285
.357
.487
Nolan Arenado
876
25.3
4.7
683
34
97
114
2
.291
.346
.539
Matt Carpenter
1,020
28.6
4.5
685
21
104
77
3
.274
.377
.470
Evan Longoria
1,281
35.9
4.5
694
27
84
95
5
.266
.332
.466
Kyle Seager
1,155
27.8
3.9
679
25
76
85
6
.258
.325
.441
 
My Selection: Adrian Beltre
Runner up: Josh Donaldson
Best Defender: Nolan Arenado
 
Third base might be the deepest position of the decade. There’s no shortage of premium options at the hot corner. Even someone like Jose Ramirez, who has placed 3rd in each of the last 2 MVP ballots, has several others that I would rank above him for this honor.
 
Donaldson and Bryant each won an MVP award during the decade. Bryant only has 4 seasons under his belt, otherwise he might be in stronger contention. Donaldson had 5 strong seasons from ’13 to ’17, but he’s also had multiple seasons in the decade where he didn’t do much.
 
However, Betre is my choice at third base. I think he offers the best all around game of the contenders.   He didn’t win an MVP award (he did finish as high as 3rd), but he finished in the top 10 five times, took home 3 Gold Gloves, and was named to 4 All Star teams.  
 
Runner up goes to Donaldson for the time being, although a good 2019 by Machado or Arenado might influence me to go with one of them over Donaldson.
 
On the defensive front, Arenado is a perfect 6-for-6 in Gold Gloves to start his career. That’s not a record (Ichiro Suzuki and Johnny Bench each won Gold Gloves in their first 10 seasons), but it’s still very impressive. Beltre and Machado are strong defenders as well, but I have to give it to Arenado.
 
Shortstop
 
The contenders:
Name
G
fWAR
fWAR / 162
PA
HR
R
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
Francisco Lindor
574
22.8
6.4
731
28
106
87
20
.288
.350
.487
Troy Tulowitzki
854
27.8
5.3
676
30
94
102
5
.293
.363
.505
Andrelton Simmons
927
23.4
4.1
652
10
68
62
10
.269
.316
.382
Elvis Andrus
1,331
23.7
2.9
703
7
89
63
29
.276
.334
.371
Brandon Crawford
1,104
20.8
3.1
610
13
62
70
4
.252
.318
.395
 
My Selection: Troy Tulowitzki
Runner up: Francisco Lindor
Best Defender: Andrelton Simmons
 
The 2010’s have not a great decade for shortstops compared to the last few decades:
  • The 80’s had Robin Yount, Cal Ripken, Ozzie Smith, and Alan Trammell
  • The 90’s had Ripken and Barry Larkin, and Alex Rodriguez got in about 4 full seasons in the last half of the decade
  • The 00’s had Derek Jeter, plus Alex Rodriguez had 4 full seasons at shortstop in the decade before coming to the Yankees and switching primarily to third base
 
The 2010’s, by contrast, haven’t had anyone near that level, although Lindor has the potential to have that type of career. Tulowitzki essentially was the best shortstop in the first half of the decade, but has struggled to stay healthy. Lindor has been the best in the second half, especially the last 2 seasons. If you could combine the two halves into one player (either Troy Lindor or Francisco Tulowitzki), you’d really have something. 
 
There are some really talented young shortstops like Carlos Correa, Trea Turner, Trevor Story, and Corey Seager, but I felt like they didn’t have quite enough in the books yet to warrant inclusion.   The 2020’s are shaping up as a potentially strong decade at the position.
 
It’s a little subjective, because, to tell you the truth, Lindor doesn’t have a whole lot more playing time than the 4 youngsters listed above, but he’s had a lot of impact in his young career, with 3 top-10 MVP finishes and 3 All Star games already. I feel like he’s got enough in the books to be considered for the all-decade team, and the others just aren’t quite at the same level, at least not yet.
 
So, even though Lindor doesn’t have a lot more time under his belt than the other young shortstops listed above, I still went with him as the runner up. If Lindor has another strong year, I’ll probably even swap Lindor and Tulowitzki for #1.
 
I was also tempted to go with Simmons as the choice, because he may ultimately be the one we remember due to his defensive brilliance (and he’s also been improving offensively). The shortstops with the most Gold Gloves are:
 
Ozzie Smith-13
Omar Vizquel-11
Luis Aparicio-9
Mark Belanger-8
Dave Concepcion and Derek Jeter-5
 
Simmons has won 4 Gold Gloves so far (2 in each league), and is only 29 years old. Perhaps even more noteworthy, he has won the last 6 Fielding Bible awards at the position, and his defensive stats have been exceptional. By the time his career is in the books, he may well be remembered as one of the best defensive shortstops ever. He’s been that impressive.
 
Left Field
 
The contenders:
Name
G
fWAR
fWAR / 162
PA
HR
R
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
Christian Yelich
790
25.9
5.3
710
19
100
83
19
.297
.375
.463
Ryan Braun
1,161
29.9
4.2
674
31
98
103
22
.295
.360
.520
Starling Marte
821
21.1
4.2
671
17
90
67
42
.286
.341
.443
Brett Gardner
1,208
29.5
4.0
673
12
97
55
29
.261
.346
.394
Justin Upton
1,345
32.3
3.9
681
29
97
91
15
.267
.348
.476
Matt Holliday
1,049
24.3
3.8
671
25
90
97
4
.283
.371
.480
Alex Gordon
1,219
25.4
3.4
674
18
82
69
11
.260
.341
.415
 
My Selection: Ryan Braun
Runner up: Justin Upton
Best Defender: Alex Gordon
 
The left fielders aren’t a brilliant group, and the one I ended up going with (Braun) has a big old cloud hanging over his performance. Still, I felt like he was the best overall choice, although another strong season by Christian Yelich, who won the MVP last year, could swing things his direction.
 
As you probably know, most of the outfielders who have accumulated a large number of Gold Gloves over the years have been center fielders and right fielders, as those positions tend to attract the most notoriety for their defensive prowess. The left fielders with the most Gold Gloves are Barry Bonds (8) and Carl Yastrzemski (7).   Gordon has won 6 so far (including one last year), so he has a chance to surpass them, although he is starting to get up there in age (35). Marte and Gardner have also gained some attention for their fielding prowess in left.
 
Center Field
 
The contenders:
Name
G
fWAR
fWAR / 162
PA
HR
R
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
Mike Trout
1,065
64.7
9.8
711
37
121
99
29
.307
.416
.573
Andrew McCutchen
1,393
45.2
5.3
700
25
96
86
19
.287
.379
.482
Lorenzo Cain
897
27.3
4.9
663
12
88
65
28
.293
.351
.420
Jacoby Ellsbury
904
22.6
4.1
707
15
96
69
38
.279
.339
.419
Curtis Granderson
1,245
28.7
3.7
657
30
96
79
11
.240
.337
.463
Adam Jones
1,362
26.4
3.1
691
28
87
88
8
.280
.318
.464
Charlie Blackmon
920
19.0
3.3
682
25
106
75
22
.302
.359
.497
 
My Selection: Mike Trout
Runner up: Andrew McCutchen
Best Defender: Lorenzo Cain
 
Trout was an easy choice for this position, and really the easiest selection on the whole team. In 7 full seasons he has 2 MVP’s, 4 second-place finishes, and a fourth-place finish. And, to tell you the truth, the 4th place finish might have been the most impressive result of all, as he managed to finish 4th despite only playing 114 games. Now, if he can just manage to make to the postseason every now and then…….
 
As easy as Trout was for #1, McCutchen is almost as easy a selection for the runner up. He’s no longer the force he once was, but up through 2015 he was one of the best, with an MVP, 2 third-place finishes, a fifth-place finish, 5 All Star teams, and a Gold Glove winner. An easy #2.
 
Identifying the best defensive center fielder of the decade was challenging. The most decorated center fielders in terms of Gold Gloves during the decade have been Adam Jones and Ender Inciarte with 3 each, so they certainly are options. Believe it or not, there have been 9 different players to be awarded the Fielding Bible award in center field so far this decade, and Jones and Inciarte weren’t among them (although Inciarte did win one for "multi position" in 2015 as he split his time that year among all 3 outfield positions).
 
Starting with 2010, the Fielding Bible center fielders have been Michael Bourn, Austin Jackson, Mike Trout, Carlos Gomez, Juan Lagares, Kevin Kiermaier, Kevin Pillar, Byron Buxton, and Lorenzo Cain (Cain also won a 2014 Fielding Bible "muti position" award as he split center field and right field duties that year).  In other words, the players like Jones and Inciarte who were the most decorated during the decade in terms of Gold Gloves tended to not be as well recognized by the Fielding Bible group.
 
It’s not that there haven’t been outstanding defensive center fielders, it’s just that we haven’t have one center fielder separate from the group. And, a lot of those players listed above have been kind of underwhelming offensive talents, which can end up cutting into their playing time.
 
A tough call, but I decided to go with Cain even though he didn’t take home a single Gold Glove.   But, honestly, there are about a half-dozen guys you can make a really strong case for.
 
Right Field
 
The contenders:
Name
G
fWAR
fWAR / 162
PA
HR
R
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
Mookie Betts
644
30.5
7.7
735
28
120
98
28
.303
.370
.518
Giancarlo Stanton
1,144
39.0
5.5
683
43
96
109
6
.268
.358
.548
Bryce Harper
927
30.7
5.4
692
32
107
91
13
.279
.388
.512
Jose Bautista
1,223
35.1
4.6
690
38
103
101
7
.251
.373
.506
Jason Heyward
1,230
29.3
3.9
657
16
83
68
13
.263
.343
.410
J.D. Martinez
922
20.9
3.7
662
34
88
106
4
.292
.353
.534
Nelson Cruz
1,265
28.5
3.6
678
39
89
109
6
.279
.346
.528
Shin-Soo Choo
1,153
24.5
3.4
716
21
94
74
15
.271
.376
.436
Carlos Gonzalez
1,158
23.4
3.3
665
30
100
101
14
.290
.349
.515
 
My Selection: Giancarlo Stanton
Runner up: Mookie Betts
Best Defender: Jason Heyward
 
Like third base, right field is another deep position with a lot of worthy candidates. Nelson Cruz is listed among the right fielders, but he could also be considered for the DH category.
 
The contest between Stanton and Betts is fairly close in my mind, and I’m giving Stanton the edge at the moment primarily since Stanton covers the entire decade to date while Betts has the equivalent of about 4 full seasons plus one partial one. What Betts has done in that abbreviated time has been incredible. 
 
If I did it strictly on a per-year basis, I’d go with Mookie, and if he repeats his MVP performance of 2018, I might change my mind. When you factor in defense, I think Betts has the best all-around game of anyone listed here. But for now, I’ll go Stanton #1 and Betts #2, with Harper (who, along with Stanton and Betts, also has an MVP during the decade) settling for #3. 
 
Heyward is the most decorated defensive right fielder of the decade with 5 Gold Gloves, a stellar reputation, and good defensive stats, and I’m OK with that selection, but Betts might be even better. Betts has won Gold Gloves the past 3 seasons, as well as the last 3 Fielding Bible awards in right field. They’re an interesting contrast visually and physically, with Betts at 5’9", 180 lbs vs. Heyward at 6’5", 240 lbs.   They both have logged some time in center field, although Betts, at least to my eye, looks like he would be the better overall centerfielder. If they were both starters on the same team, I would presume Betts would be the center fielder and Heyward would be the right fielder. I decided to go with Heyward as the right field defensive player of the decade, but I think they’re close.
 
 
Designated Hitter
 
The contenders:
Name
G
fWAR
fWAR / 162
PA
HR
R
RBI
SB
AVG
OBP
SLG
David Ortiz
957
22.2
3.8
683
38
90
118
1
.292
.383
.562
Edwin Encarnacion
1,251
26.3
3.4
683
39
96
113
5
.265
.358
.517
Nelson Cruz
1,265
28.5
3.6
678
39
89
109
6
.279
.346
.528
 
My Selection: David Ortiz
Runner up: Edwin Encarnacion
Best Defender: Um…..
 
This one’s really tight. I think you could go with any of the three.
 
Cruz was also listed among the right field contenders. He pretty evenly split his time between right field and DH during the decade (604 games in right, 576 games at DH), so it may not be appropriate to consider him here.
 
It’s close, but I went with Ortiz even though the other 2 have logged more time during the decade.   His rate stats were quite a bit better than the other 2. His 2013 performance in the postseason (especially the World Series) tipped the scale for me.
 
Starting Pitchers
 
For pitchers, I took a little different approach. For one thing, I switched to baseball-reference.com’s version of WAR (rWAR) rather than fWAR, and considered only the pitching component of WAR (which excludes hitting). 
 
Also, for seasonal notation, rather than expressing the figures on a "per 162 game" basis, the data reflects stats per 33 games (for starters) and per 68 games (for relievers) to put them into a proper context.
 
The contenders:
Name
Pitching rWAR
rWAR Seasonal
W
L
%
ERA
IP
SO
ERA+
Clayton Kershaw
55.9
7.0
17
7
.714
2.24
226
248
168
Max Scherzer
50.3
5.7
17
8
.691
3.14
214
250
133
Chris Sale
43.1
6.9
16
10
.624
2.89
236
285
144
Justin Verlander
48.6
5.6
16
9
.635
3.16
221
225
132
Corey Kluber
33.6
5.7
16
9
.636
3.09
220
240
137
David Price
36.9
4.6
17
8
.662
3.18
222
217
126
Zack Greinke
38.8
4.6
16
8
.678
3.21
211
200
126
Madison Bumgarner
29.6
3.9
14
11
.570
3.04
214
208
122
Cole Hamels
42.9
5.1
13
9
.574
3.29
216
205
125
Felix Hernandez
33.1
4.1
14
11
.558
3.28
218
206
117
Johnny Cueto
31.9
4.6
15
9
.636
3.03
214
179
131
Gio Gonzalez
30.3
3.5
14
10
.583
3.49
196
187
117
Jon Lester
29.9
3.4
15
9
.622
3.45
206
194
121
 
 
 I went with 7 pitchers from this group. My selections:
Clayton Kershaw
Max Scherzer
Justin Verlander
Chris Sale
Corey Kluber
David Price
Madison Bumgarner
 
For starting pitchers, I devised a simple system that ranked pitchers across the following categories:
  • rWAR   
  • W           
  • IP
  • Simple ERA        
  • ERA+    
  • FIP         
  • H9          
  • SO9       
  • SO/W
 
I then averaged their rankings to come up with an composite, overall ranking. This eliminated Hamels, Hernandez, Cueto, Gonzalez, and Lester. That got it down to the other 8.
 
Kershaw, Scherzer, and Verlander were easy choices for me. Kluber doesn’t quite have the bulk stats of some of the others as it took him a little while to stick in the rotation, but with 2 Cy Young awards and 2 other third place finishes over the last 5 years, he’s had a big impact on the decade. 
 
Sale doesn’t have the hardware, but he’s consistently at the top of the Cy Young results, with 7 straight seasons in which he’s finished in 6th place or better. And Price, although he’s had his various struggles at times, especially in the postseason (although he was outstanding in his final 3 starts of the 2018 postseason), clearly belongs on the team with his overall performance, highlighted by a Cy Young award, 2 second-place finishes, 2 ERA titles, and 5 All Star teams.
 
It came down to Zack Greinke vs. Madison Bumgarner for the final slot. I’m sure many would go with Greinke, and he probably has the edge strictly on regular season performance, but I felt that they were close enough that Bumgarner’s postseason excellence (especially in the World Series, where he went 4-0 with a miniscule 0.25 ERA over 36 innings, as well as the most impressive postseason save we’ll likely ever see) tipped the scales for me. Bumgarner’s World Series performances helped shape and define the decade. I have to include him.
 
If I had to pick just one pitcher for the decade, I’d go with Kershaw.
 
Relief Pitchers
 
From my perspective, the relief pitchers were pretty straightforward. The three most dominant relievers were Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman, and Kenley Jansen. Although there have been some other fine relievers during the decade, these 3 stood out from the rest. Their stats are below, and I added a couple of extra columns (hits allowed per 9 innings, and strikeouts per 9 innings) to illustrate a couple of points:
 
Name
Pitching rWAR
rWAR Seasonal
W
L
ERA
SV
IP
SO
ERA+
H9
SO9
Craig Kimbrel
20.2
2.5
4
2
1.91
42
67
109
211
4.8
14.7
Aroldis Chapman
16.0
2.2
4
3
2.24
33
66
111
183
4.9
15.0
Kenley Jansen
15.7
2.0
3
2
2.20
34
69
103
173
5.6
13.5
 
 
Some of this is no doubt related to the era we’re in (where strikeouts are at an all-time high), but these 3 closers (along with Dellin Betances, who’s been more of a setup reliever) top the all-time strikeouts per 9 inning chart:
 
Highest strikeouts per 9 innings, minimum 300 innings:
 
#
Name
IP
K/9
1
Aroldis Chapman
478.2
15.0
2
Craig Kimbrel
532.2
14.7
3
Dellin Betances
381.0
14.6
4
Kenley Jansen
548.2
13.5
5
Rob Dibble
477.0
12.2
6
Trevor Rosenthal
325.0
12.1
7
David Robertson
657.0
12.0
8
Billy Wagner
903.0
11.9
9
Brad Lidge
603.1
11.9
10
Greg Holland
423.1
11.6
 
No surprise that most of those players are active.
 
The same quartet (along with Wade Davis) tops the leader board for being stingy with hits:
 
Fewest hits allowed per 9 innings, minimum 300 innings:
 
#
Name
IP
H/9
1
Craig Kimbrel
532.2
4.82
2
Aroldis Chapman
478.2
4.93
3
Dellin Betances
379.0
5.39
4
Wade Davis
387.0
5.51
5
Kenley Jansen
548.2
5.64
6
Carlos Marmol
509.1
5.73
7
Andrew Miller
400.1
5.76
8
Billy Wagner
903.0
5.99
9
Koji Uehara
414.0
6.07
10
Troy Percival
707.2
6.08
 
If you prefer some more conventional stats, here are the saves leaders for the decade:
 
#
Name
SV
BS
SV %
ERA
G
IP
1
Craig Kimbrel
333
34
90.7%
1.91
542
532.2
2
Kenley Jansen
268
30
89.9%
2.20
543
548.2
3
Fernando Rodney
255
47
84.4%
3.35
588
555.1
4
Aroldis Chapman
236
27
89.7%
2.24
490
478.2
5
Jonathan Papelbon
217
31
87.5%
2.86
421
427.2
6
Huston Street
195
23
89.4%
2.99
357
349.1
7
Francisco Rodriguez
194
36
84.3%
3.23
470
456.1
8
Greg Holland
189
23
89.2%
2.83
426
423.1
9
Mark Melancon
182
31
85.4%
2.72
504
499.2
10
Jim Johnson
167
45
78.8%
3.83
553
559.2
 
Fernando Rodney crashes the leader board in this category, but he’s clearly not in the same class as Kimbrel, Jansen, and Chapman. Rodney has had lots of opportunities to rack up saves, but he has also played for 9 different teams so far during the decade. It’s like that line from "Ferris Bueller’s Day Off" when the principal is reviewing with Ferris’ mother how many times Ferris had been absent from school….."Nine times!".
 
In any case, I’m going with Kimbrel, Chapman, and Jansen as my 3 relievers, and if I had to pick just one, it would be Kimbrel.
 
I didn’t pick any non-closer relievers, but if I did, I’d probably go with Betances, or maybe Darren O’Day.
 
Summary
 
In summary, here are my selections for the All-Decade team for the 2010’s, eliminating a few of the earlier columns and inserting an "Other" column to capture awards and honors .
("AS"=All Star, "GG"=Gold Glove, "CY"=Cy Young awards)
 
1st Team:
Pos
Name
fWAR
fWAR / 162
HR
R
RBI
SB
BA
OBP
SLG
Other
C
Buster Posey
39.1
5.6
19
79
90
3
.307
.376
.466
MVP, 6 AS, 1 GG
1B
Miguel Cabrera
43.5
5.8
34
100
117
2
.321
.405
.559
2 MVP, 7 AS, 2 other top-5 MVP
2B
Robinson Cano
45.3
5.5
27
94
101
4
.303
.363
.501
7 AS, 2 GG, 4 Top-5 MVP
3B
Adrian Beltre
42.7
5.5
29
90
104
1
.307
.358
.514
4 AS, 3 GG, 1 top-5 MVP
SS
Troy Tulowitzki
27.8
5.3
30
94
102
5
.293
.363
.505
5 AS, 2 GG, 2 top-5 MVP
LF
Ryan Braun
29.9
4.2
31
98
103
22
.295
.360
.520
MVP, 1 MVP runner up, 4 AS
CF
Mike Trout
64.7
9.8
37
121
99
29
.307
.416
.573
2 MVP, 4 MVP runners up, 7 AS
RF
Giancarlo Stanton
39.0
5.5
43
96
109
6
.268
.358
.548
MVP, 1 MVP runner up, 4 AS
DH
David Ortiz
22.2
3.8
38
90
118
1
.292
.383
.562
5 AS
 
2nd Team:
Pos
Name
fWAR
fWAR / 162
HR
R
RBI
SB
 BA
OBP
SLG
Other
C
Yadier Molina
29.4
4.0
15
63
80
6
.289
.338
.426
7 GG, 8 AS, 2 top-4 MVP
1B
Joey Votto
47.8
6.1
28
98
91
8
.311
.436
.528
MVP, 6 AS, 1 GG, 4 top-6 MVP
2B
Jose Altuve
31.6
4.6
14
93
67
36
.316
.365
.453
MVP, 6 AS, 1 GG, top-3 MVP
3B
Josh Donaldson
36.5
6.7
33
102
101
6
.275
.367
.507
MVP, 3 AS, 2 top-4 MVP
SS
Francisco Lindor
22.8
6.4
28
106
87
20
.288
.350
.487
3 AS, 1 GG, 2 top-6 MVP
LF
Justin Upton
32.3
3.9
29
97
91
15
.267
.348
.476
3 AS, 1 top-4 MVP
CF
Andrew McCutchen
45.2
5.3
25
96
86
19
.287
.379
.482
MVP, 5 AS, 1 GG, 3 top-5 MVP
RF
Mookie Betts
30.5
7.7
28
120
98
28
.303
.370
.518
MVP, runner-up, 3 AS, 3 GG
DH
Edwin Encarnacion
26.3
3.4
39
96
113
5
.265
.358
.517
3 AS
 
Pitchers:
 
Name
Pitching rWAR
rWAR Seasonal
W
L
ERA
SV
ERA+
Other
P
Clayton Kershaw
55.9
7.0
17
7
2.24
-
168
3 CY, 2 runners up, 1 MVP, 7 AS, 5 ERA titles
P
Max Scherzer
50.3
5.7
17
8
3.14
-
133
3 CY, 1 runner up, 6 AS, 4 Wins titles
P
Justin Verlander
48.6
5.6
16
9
3.16
-
132
1 CY, 3 runners up, 1 MVP, 5 AS, 1 ERA title
P
Chris Sale
43.1
6.9
16
10
2.89
2
144
7 CY top-6 finishes, 7 AS
P
Corey Kluber
33.6
5.7
16
9
3.09
-
137
2 CY, 2 top-3 finishes, 3 AS, ERA title
P
David Price
36.9
4.6
17
8
3.18
-
126
1 CY, 2 runners up, 5 AS, 2 ERA titles
P
Madison Bumgarner
29.6
3.9
14
11
3.04
-
122
3 top-6 CY finishes, 4 AS, 4-0, 0.25 in WS
RP
Craig Kimbrel
20.2
2.5
4
2
1.91
42
211
4 top-6 CY finishes, 7 AS
RP
Aroldis Chapman
16.0
2.2
4
3
2.24
33
183
5 AS
RP
Kenley Jansen
15.7
2.0
3
2
2.20
34
173
1 5th place CY finish, 3 AS
 
All Decade Defensive team:
C-Yadier Molina
1B-Paul Goldschmidt
2B-Dustin Pedroia
3B-Nolan Arenado
SS-Andrelton Simmons
LF-Alex Gordon
CF-Lorenzo Cain
RF-Jason Heyward
P-Dallas Keuchel
 
I’d select Kershaw as my pitcher of the decade and Trout as the player of the decade, decisions that seem pretty easy and clear-cut to me.
 
That’s my team and I’m sticking to it. 
 
I’ll check back in as 2019 winds down to see if the final year of the decade causes me to reconsider any of the selections.
 
Thanks for reading.
 
Dan
 
 

COMMENTS (14 Comments, most recent shown first)

steve161
Maybe I wasn't as clear as I might have been: Bumgarner's postseason is indeed remarkable, but IMO not so much better than Lester's as to erase the latter's regular season edge.

Trout's defense is a curious case. In his first couple of years, where it seemed he was stealing home runs on a weekly basis, the knock was that he didn't quite have the arm of an elite center fielder. Fangraphs shows recent improvement in that category, to my eye mostly accuracy, but the range is less stellar, though still well above average. FG's Inside Edge shows a slight decline in spectacular plays. Has he lost a step? Is he more cautious?
7:14 AM Mar 12th
 
DMBBHF
Thanks for all the comments.

To reiterate the premise, the decisions were based solely on the years 2010-2018. Anything before 2010 isn't relevant. Anything that might happen after 2019 isn't relevant

Lots of support for Greinke, and I can understand that. If Greinke's Cy Young had occurred in the decade, I probably would have gone with him. I thought he and Bumgarner were close enough that Bumgarner's excellence in the postseason was enough. Steve's point about Lester's postseason is well taken....I just thought Bumgarner's was better, and Bumgarner's regular season numbers were better as well.

Re: Stanton over Betts.....My money is definitely on Betts to eventually have the better career....but right now, for this decade, I'm sticking with Stanton. The area under the curve matters as much as the peak of the curve. It's not just one or the other. As I said in the article, another really strong season in 2019 for Betts may change my mind.

Same goes for Tulo over Lindor. Right now, I went with Tulo due to a little more in the books during the decade, but I think it's close. I almost went with Lindor, but I was a little reluctant based on 3 full and 1 partial seasons. But it's close.

Maris,

Well, I certainly agree that the RF'ers of the 2010's don't stack up to those of the '60's, but that decade is a pretty high standards. Aaron, Robinson, Clemente, and Kaline are probably 4 of the top 6 or 7 RF'ers ever. I think the 2010's compare OK to decades like the '80's or '90's.

Terry,

I'm not sure what to make of Trout defensively. For all his accolades, he hasn't won a GG, and his defensive metrics don't scream "outstanding".

Thanks,
Dan
7:17 PM Mar 11th
 
George.Rising
Nice work, Dan. Thanks!
5:49 PM Mar 11th
 
frisco
I wonder where Kershaw will end up ranking all-time.

Can't believe "The Sand Pebbles" didn't make the top 100 of the 60's.

Interesting article overall.
5:37 PM Mar 11th
 
MarisFan61
Re Lindor "eventually" overtaking Tulowitzki: I agree, but (I'd say) there aren't enough years left for him to overtake him on this "decade-ic" thing.
11:57 AM Mar 11th
 
sayhey
"2) I'd not only take Greinke over Bumgarner, I'd think seriously about Hamels, and--if postseason performance is considered--Lester as well. "

I'd take Greinke too, but if postseason performance is considered, doesn't that in fact work to Bumgarner's advantage vs. pretty much anybody?
10:07 AM Mar 11th
 
sayhey
Enjoyed reading. Close calls, but I'll disagree with two.

1) Votto over Cabrera. Cabrera was awesome in the middle of the decade, but he's tailed off considerably the past two years.

2) Anybody over Tulowitzki. I'm biased, having seen him up close in Toronto. For the whole decade, he played more than 140 games exactly once (and more than a 100 only five times). I think he was very much a creature of his park offensively. Lindor has made a clear case for himself in half the time.
9:26 AM Mar 11th
 
steve161
I could write something very much like Terry wrote, but I'll be a little more specific with my quibbles.

1) Because I continue to think the importance of catcher defense is universally underrated and immune to statistical analysis (so far), I'd take Molina by a nose over Posey;

2) I'd not only take Greinke over Bumgarner, I'd think seriously about Hamels, and--if postseason performance is considered--Lester as well.

3) Betts over Stanton, and I don't think it's close.

4) Hard to compare a 4-year player with a 12-year player, but I'm guessing Lindor will pass Tulowitzki by the time all is said and done.

5) Likewise at 3rd, it's only a matter of time for Arenado.

Quibbles they are, nonetheless. And yes, Dan, congrats on Number 100. You've enriched this site.
7:36 AM Mar 11th
 
MarisFan61
P.S. .....and 'here's a real pip for you':

Even Maris, who I listed for the '60's only because, well y'know, how could I not -- the bottom contender of the players I listed for that decade, even he compares pretty favorably on Win Shares with the top guy in this decade.

Maris's yearly Win Shares in the '60's (per this site)
31
36
25
17
25
6
8
17
11

That's a total of 176 Win Shares for the decade.
It's more than Stanton's number of Win Shares for this decade, which is 170, granting that he has one more year to come.
It's despite Maris's couple of years when he was injured most of the time (although he did play most of the schedule in one of those years), and those two seasons at the end that were in what Archie Bunker called "the reclining years."

BTW I don't mean that Maris was greater than Stanton, just pointing out this additional thing that suggests how relatively weak is this decade's group of RF's.
11:49 PM Mar 10th
 
MarisFan61
......For fun, let's compare those RF's for this decade with the possible RF candidates for the decade most dear to my baby boomer heart.

I don't mean compare by metrics, although maybe I'll do that too; for starters it'll just be seat-of-pants. First let's just look at them (in terms of whole-decade, not just how good they were at some moment or right now).

2010's:
Mookie Betts
Giancarlo Stanton
Bryce Harper
Jose Bautista
Jason Heyward
J.D. Martinez
Nelson Cruz
Shin-Soo Choo
Carlos Gonzalez

1960's: (picking them by seat-of-pants, listed more-or-less in the order I see them)
Hank Aaron
Frank Robinson
Roberto Clemente
Al Kaline
Rocky Colavito
Tony Oliva
John Callison
Maris (I can't not include him, of course, even though his time was short)

So......

Is it just me that I see the top 4 as distinctly 'greater' than any of our current RF candidates? (And I see the 5th guy, Colavito, as at least the equal of any of the 2010's guys -- again, meaning for the decade as a whole; for example, I don't mean that I think he was ever as good as Betts was last year.)

If it's not just me, what does it mean? Has the last decade really just been an unusually middling decade for great RF's? Was the '60's an unusually great decade for them?

BTW, let's do this little thing to get some idea of how much it's just me.

I gave the yearly Win Shares of this decade's RF pick.

Here's the yearly Win Shares of my 5th guy from the '60's, who I think most of y'all would agree is really no better than 5th among those '60's guys.

Rocky Colavito's yearly Win Shares in the '60's (per this site)
13
33
26
21
22
28
18
10
6

I don't think it's just me that I see that column as more impressive than Stanton's -- and it's despite Colavito's career not laying out as advantageously as Stanton's for such a decade-ic assessment.
Like, two of his best years were the previous two:
1958: 32 Win Shares
1959: 29 Win Shares

Despite the decade not counting two of his best years, his line is still better than Stanton's.

For fun let's also look at Kaline.

Kaline's yearly Win Shares in the '60's
17
29
19
25
24
20
31
30
18
17

Likewise: Better too.

I'm comfortable saying it's not just me....

BTW, Dan: I didn't do this to argue with you, but to argue with myself!
10:48 PM Mar 10th
 
ventboys
My first instinct is always to find quibbles, mostly because saying, "nice job" is boring and sounds lazy. But I really don't have any, not any worth fighting about.

I suspect you would have given Trout the center field GG had you not sort of wanted to be inclusive, but that's just a random speculation. The only sort-of snub I noticed was Greinke, but you have to draw lines somewhere. So "nice job." As always.

And congratulations on your 100th. :)
10:07 PM Mar 10th
 
MarisFan61
(typo: weak field, not week field; maybe I did that because I thought some of the guys were real good for a week rather than for a decade) :-)
10:04 PM Mar 10th
 
MarisFan61
Funnily :-) I agree with every one of your picks on the basic team, although maybe it's not that surprising because, as I see it, none of them except maybe the pitching spots are tough decisions, and the pitching spots aren't that hard either.

My only disagreement is a sidebar thing:
I wouldn't say that RF is "deep with a lot of worthy candidates." In terms of what they've done over the whole decade, I think it's an unusually week field for a decade, and that Stanton is an unusually middling winner at the position. And BTW I don't only say that because he didn't do better with my Yanks last year :-) but I can't deny that it's part of how I see it.

But how about this: Here are his yearly Win Shares (per this site's data) for the decade, which happens to be his whole career:
13
19
19
15
31
14
12
29
18

BTW, that's 'even worse' (in 'quotes' because it's not like they're awful) than I expected. From this objective standpoint he's been 'even worse' than my subjective impression of him.

I agree with what you say about LF being unusually weak.
10:02 PM Mar 10th
 
doncoffin
"When you think of the Sixties in a popular culture sense, what do you think of? JFK? Woodstock? Vietnam?"

The Beatles, the Stones, Dylan. John Coltrane. Miles Davis. (And a lot more.)

Books matter a lot to me, and here are some that still resonate (and I think I still have all of them).
Norman Mailer's book "Miami and the Siege of Chicago."
Catch-22. Slaughterhouse Five. Or the Childrens' Crusade (to give it its whole title). The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test. The Spy Who Came In From the Cold. The Ipcress File. Franny and Zooey. The Godfather. The Left Hand of Darkness. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest. Dune. Silent Spring. Hell in a Very Small Place. The Fire Next Time and Notes of a Native Son (James Baldwin). The Autobiography of Malcolm X.

"Either you're on the bus or you're off the bus.

Most of the movies on this list:
https://www.ranker.com/list/best-movies-of-the-60s/movie-info


8:25 PM Mar 10th
 
 
©2019 Be Jolly, Inc. All Rights Reserved.|Web site design and development by Americaneagle.com|Terms & Conditions|Privacy Policy