The 2010s was a challenging decade for fantasy baseball managers, with pitchers and hitters each enjoying separate phases of league-wide dominance. As the league-wide plan shifted to drawing walks, increasing launch angles and avoiding risks on the basepaths, wise managers also shifted their priorities. With the decade coming to a close, let’s take a look at a team of players who dominated the fantasy landscape.
Buster Posey, catcher
Posey’s arrived on the fantasy scene in 2010 and produced noteworthy numbers for nearly the entire decade. The catcher never reached notable power heights (career-high of 24 homers), but his lifetime .302 batting mark makes him an outlier at a position that is typically a batting average drain. His best season came in 2012 when he hit .336 with 24 homers and 103 RBI.
Miguel Cabrera, first baseman
Miggy narrowly edged out Albert Pujols and Paul Goldschmidt in the toughest battle for placement on this list. The native Venezuelan led all qualified hitters during this decade with a .317 average, while also ranking among the top-12 in homers, RBI, and runs scored. His most memorable fantasy campaign took place in 2013 when he batted .348 with 44 homers, 137 RBI and 103 runs scored.
Jose Altuve, second baseman
A career .315 hitter, Altuve was the speediest player on this list. The diminutive spark plug produced a half-dozen 30-steal seasons during this decade and is one of just five players to swipe more than 250 bags since the outset of 2010. His best fantasy season is up for debate, but I’ll go with 2016 when he hit .338 with 24 long balls, 96 RBI, 108 runs scored and 30 steals.
Nolan Arenado, third baseman
Although Arenado didn’t debut until 2013, he did enough in the second half of the decade to earn this spot. Since the outset of 2015, the slugger has produced 621 RBI, which is 83 more than any other player. He also ranks second in homers (199), fourth in runs scored (519) and 12th in batting average (.300) across those five years. The best year of his remarkably consistent career came in 2016 when he tallied 41 homers, 133 RBI and 116 runs scored.
Ian Desmond, shortstop
Desmond is the most surprising name on this list, as the shortstop position didn’t have a decade-long dominator. The 34 year old manned this position through 2015 and finished the decade as one of two players (along with Mike Trout) to compile more than 175 homers and steals. His lone campaign with the Rangers (2016) was his best fantasy season, which included 22 homers, 86 RBI, 107 runs scored and 21 steals.
Mike Trout, outfielder
Trout is a fantasy legend who finished the decade among the top-21 in all five standard categories (top-5 in HR, R, BA). His first full season (2012) may have been his best fantasy campaign when he hit .326 with 30 homers, 129 runs scored and 49 swipes.
Nelson Cruz, outfielder
Possibly the most underrated power hitter of his generation, Cruz led the decade in long balls (346) and fell just two RBI shy of the top spot. He led many fantasy teams to titles in 2017 when he hit .288 with 39 homers, 91 runs scored and a league-leading 119 RBI.
Ryan Braun, outfielder
Consistently a mixed-league factor since he debuted in 2007, Braun was one of the true difference-makers at the outset of the decade. He has hit .294 with 241 homers and 166 steals since 2010, highlighted by a 2012 season in which he hit .319 with 41 round-trippers, 112 RBI, 108 runs scored and 30 steals.
Clayton Kershaw, starter
Kershaw might have been the easiest call for this article, having logged a 2.31 ERA and a 0.96 WHIP this decade. He also won 156 games, and no other hurler won even half that amount while maintaining a sub-3.00 ERA. Kershaw peaked in 2014 when he went 21-3 with a 1.77 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP.
Max Scherzer, starter
The definition of a workhorse, Scherzer led the decade in wins (161) while ranking second in innings pitched (2063.2). He also joined Chris Sale as the only hurlers this decade to log a K/9 rate above 10.0 across more than 1500 frames. Blessed with a seemingly ageless skillset, his best season came in 2018 when he collected 18 wins, 300 whiffs, a 2.53 ERA and a 0.91 WHIP.
Justin Verlander, starter
Verlander joins his former teammate Scherzer as the decade’s top workhorses, having finished first in innings (2142) and second in wins (160). The right-hander’s longevity is well-illustrated when noting that his best seasons came in 2011 (24 wins, 2.40 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 250 Ks) and 2019 (21 wins, 2.58 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 300 Ks).
Zack Greinke, starter
For Greinke, this decade was marked by durability (seven 200-inning seasons, 1986 total innings, 155 wins). His 2015 campaign (19-3 record, 1.66 ERA, 0.84 WHIP) was one of the most impressive single-season performances of any starter in recent years.
Chris Sale, starter
Sale debuted during 2010 and was one of just four hurlers (along with Scherzer, Verlander, and Kershaw) to fan 2000 batters this decade. He also joined Robbie Ray as the only pitchers to post a K/9 rate of 11.0 or better across more than 1000 innings. His most dominant season included 17 wins, 308 strikeouts, a 2.90 ERA and a 0.97 WHIP in 2017.
Craig Kimbrel, closer
Like Sale, Kimbrel debuted in 2010. He finished the decade with gaudy ratios (2.08 ERA, 0.95 WHIP) and 45 more saves than his nearest competitor. His best work came with the Braves in 2012, when he posted 42 saves, 116 whiffs, a 1.01 ERA and a 0.65 WHIP.