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You can sum up baseball in the 2010s with two words: Mike Trout.
There’s little doubt at this point that Trout, the Los Angeles Angels’ outfielder, is a generational talent. Is he the best player EVER? Not yet, but it’s not out of the question. He’s a no-doubt choice for our MLB All-Decade team, but he’s not the only one.
Looking around baseball in the 2010s, it was a decade of three dominant starters who will be in Cooperstown one day, a collection of five-tool talents, some mega-productive infielders and two closers whose strikeout rates are mind-blowing.
Here are our picks for baseball’s All-Decade team:
C Buster Posey, San Francisco Giants
Credentials: MVP, Rookie of the Year, three World Series titles, six-time All-Star
Name your metric and Buster Posey is the All-Decade choice. Production? Posey’s Wins Above Replacement is better than second-place Yadier Molina by more than 10. Rings? Posey has three of those as his arrival in San Francisco coincided with the Giants’ run of three World Series in five years.
1B Miguel Cabrera, Detroit Tigers
Credentials: Triple Crown winner, two-time MVP, seven-time All-Star
It might be hard to remember just how good Miggy was in the first half of this decade when you look at him these days, but you know his decade was good when you see all the bolded numbers on his Baseball-Reference page. Cabrera was a beast from 2010 to 2014, including his famous 2012 Triple Crown season. Nobody had led the league in homers, RBIs and batting average since 1967. While this category is deep with the likes of Joey Votto, Paul Goldschmidt and Freddie Freeman, a Triple Crown alone probably gets Miggy the nod. Beyond that, he had the top batting average of the 2010s and finished fourth in homers and fifth in hits despite the tough finish to the decade.
2B Robinson Cano, New York Mets
Credentials: Seven-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger winner
Who had the most hits this decade? Don’t you know? It’s Robinson Cano. Cano finished his tenure with the New York Yankees as one of the best hitters in baseball, signed a mammoth deal with the Seattle Mariners and was eventually traded to the Mets. There have been ups and down, injuries and controversies, but through it all, there’s no doubt that Cano has one of the sweetest swings in baseball. And he connected with it more effectively than anyone else in his position.
3B Adrian Beltre, Retired
Credentials: Four-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger, three-time Gold Glove winner
The thing about picking an All-Decade team is that it values longevity and consistency. Adrian Beltre, the future Hall of Famer, was a portrait of those things. He was bested in individual seasons by the likes of Nolan Arenado and Josh Donaldson, but nobody was as solid throughout the decade as Beltre — and that’s not just confined to third basemen. He ranked fourth among position players in Wins Above Replacement, according to Baseball-Reference.
SS Andrelton Simmons, Los Angeles Angels
Credentials: Platinum Glove winner, four-time Gold Glove winner
If there’s one position to go glove-first, it’s shortstop and if there’s one player who deserves glove-first consideration, it’s Simmons. He’s a highlight reel come to life, this generation’s Omar Vizquel. The bat is only so-so — but it’s serviceable when combined with his glove. Even as a glove-first player, his WAR in the 2010s was the same as Manny Machado’s.
OF Mike Trout, Los Angeles Angels
Credentials: Three-time MVP, Rookie of the Year, eight-time All-Star, two-time All-Star MVP
Any MLB All-Decade team without Mike Trout is a farce. And his sustained excellence since coming into the league full-time in 2012, has turned around those naysayers earlier in the decade who thought he was just a product of the sabermetrics era (though he has nearly 20 more WAR than any other position player this decade).
Trout is, quite simply, the best player of this decade and the best player of his generation. At this point, the best player ever is in the conversation too. He’s an on-base machine, one of the top run-scorers in the league and a homer threat in any at-bat. He can run, hit, play good defense. In seven of his eight complete seasons, he’s finished either first or second in MVP voting. Case closed.
OF Mookie Betts, Boston Red Sox
Credentials: MVP, four-time All-Star, World Series title, batting title
If Betts weren’t playing in the same era as Trout, we’d be talking more than we already do about his all-around talent. In just five complete seasons, Betts ranks 10th among all position players in WAR. Imagine if he’d played the whole decade. He’s good enough hitting to win a batting title, has enough power to be a middle-of-the-order bat and gets on base enough to be one of the top run producers in the game.
OF Andrew McCutchen, Philadelphia Phillies
Credentials: MVP, five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger
There are plenty of good choices for the final outfield spot, but Andrew McCutchen is the clear choice when you look back at how great he was in the middle of the decade. 2012-2015? He was a machine. He had three straight seasons with an OPS above .900. He led the league in hits and OBP in separate years — and won the MVP in the middle of those two years. And he had more RBIs in the 2010s than Trout, Votto, Arenado, Posey and Jose Bautista.
DH Nelson Cruz, Minnesota Twins
Credentials: Five-time All-Star, three-time Silver Slugger
Do you know who hit the most homers in the 2010s? He’s probably not the first person who comes to mind, but it was Cruz. His 346 topped Edwin Encarnacion (335) and Giancarlo Stanton (308). He had four 40-homer seasons, plus seasons where he hit 39 and 37. He does have a PED suspension on his record, so that will probably cost him unanimous support here, but he’s continued to be a valuable asset for any team that will have him. Just last season at age 38, Cruz’s veteran bat crushed 41 homers and helped the Minnesota Twins win the AL Central title.
SP Max Scherzer, Washington Nationals
Credentials: Three Cy Youngs, two no-hitters, seven-time All-Star, World Series title
Now that Max Scherzer has a championship ring, you can say he got it all during the 2010s. The Washington Nationals ace’ had the most strikeouts and wins of the decade. He threw two no-hitters and won three Cy Youngs. There’s not much question about which three pitchers we should name here, but there was about which should be named first. Scherzer seems like a good choice.
SP Justin Verlander, Houston Astros
Credentials: MVP, two Cy Youngs, two no-hitters, six-time All-Star, World Series title
Verlander was the biggest workhorse of our group of All-Decade starters. He started the most games and tossed the most innings, while finishing No. 2 in wins, strikeouts and WAR. He won a title with the Astros in 2017, won Cy Youngs, an MVP and threw two no-hitters. What might be most impressive about Verlander is how he reinvented himself after two down seasons in 2014 and 2015, then recaptured his glory in his mid-30s.
SP Clayton Kershaw, Los Angeles Dodgers
Credentials: MVP, three Cy Youngs, one no-hitter, eight-time All-Star,
When he was at his best, nobody was better than Kershaw, the Dodgers’ ace who spent much of the 2010s wearing the “best pitcher alive” badge. Injuries and postseason woes have added some nuance to the debate, but there’s no arguing that Kershaw is one of the top three of the decade. He led all pitchers in WAR, threw a ridiculous 15 shutouts and 25 complete games and had the best winning percentage of any pitcher in the league. The lack of rings hurts his case for being the top pitcher of the decade, but he’s in fine company.
RP Craig Kimbrel, Chicago Cubs
Credentials: Rookie of the Year, seven-time All-Star, World Series title
Take away 2010, in which he pitched just 20 innings, and 2019, when he didn’t play half the season, Kimbrel had 30-plus saves every year of the 2010s. No one saved more games this decade than Kimbrel. He led the league in saves four straight seasons with the Atlanta Braves, won a World Series with the Boston Red Sox and remained one of the fearsome closers in the game throughout the whole run. His 41.1 strikeout percentage was tied for No. 1 in baseball in the 2010s. With who, you may ask? The next guy on this list.
RP Aroldis Chapman, New York Yankees
Credentials: Six-time All-Star, World Series title
Chapman and Kimbrel each struck out 41.1 percent of the batters they faced through the decade, which is incredible. He finished third in saves in the 2010s — Kenley Jansen finished second — won a World Series with the Chicago Cubs and was a six-time All-Star. More notably than all of that, he was the pitcher who lit up a radar gun like no other. He threw 2,980 pitches this decade that were 100 mph or faster.