Opinions

DD Team of the Decade

With the 2010s coming to a close, some members of our writing team submitted their picks for “Team of the Decade” for both the American League and National League.

Let’s see how our writers’ opinions stack up against yours!


American League

Catcher: Joe Mauer

Others Receiving Votes: Matt Wieters, Russell Martin, Salvador Perez

Catcher has consistently been the thinnest position of the decade, and the few great catchers who have graced the league have spent a disproportionate amount of that time in the National League, making the AL selection all the more difficult. I considered giving this spot to Russell Martin, Brian McCann, or Jonathan Lucroy, but ultimately decided that they did not spend enough time in the AL this decade. Mauer, despite his MVP coming in the last decade, still posted a 117 OPS+ this decade.

Matt O’Halloran

Martin spent 6 years in the AL, and during those 6 years he was the best catcher in the league. He was never a great hitter, averaging just a 101 wRC+ each year, but he averaged 13 FRAA a year! Just an incredible defender

Callie Tsai

First Base: Miguel Cabrera

Others Receiving Votes: None

This is a fairly obvious choice. The future first ballot hall of famer won two MVPs (2012, 2013), 5 silver sluggers, and racked up 7 all star appearances this decade. He amassed nearly 1600 hits (1595), over 250 home runs, while slashing .317/.399/.544/.943, good for a wRC+ of 153. His closest competitor would be Edwin Encarnacion, who may have hit more home runs than Cabrera, but falls short in most other aspects.

Matt O’Halloran

Second Base: Robinson Cano

Others Receiving Votes: Jose Altuve, Dustin Pedroia

Recency bias nearly had me picking Jose Altuve for this spot, but Cano’s stretch of dominance from 2010-2016, a period where he averaged 6.7 bWAR per year is simply too much to ignore. The aforementioned Altuve, as well as recent retiree Ian Kinsler and Dustin Pedroia are also worth mentioning, but all three fall a step short of matching Cano’s dominant decade.

Matt O’Halloran

Altuve gives Cano some competition, yet while the two posted similar offensive numbers, Cano’s glove blows away Altuve

Matt Fronduto

Shortstop: Francisco Lindor

Others Receiving Votes: None

While Elvis Andrus played 5 more seasons in the decade than Mr. Smile, he only was an above average hitter just twice. Lindor was actually more valuable, 28.6 to 28.1 bWAR in the decade.

Andrew Horwath

Third Base: Adrian Beltre

Others Receiving Votes: Josh Donaldson

American League third baseman is perhaps the deepest spot on this ballot. Any of Beltre, Donaldson, Longoria, or Machado could reasonably be here. That doesn’t even include the likes of Alex Bregman or Matt Chapman who, while elite, simply came up too late in the decade for consideration. I ultimately went with Beltre, as he cemented his legacy as an all time great third baseman this decade in Texas, as he seemingly never aged.

Matt O’Halloran

By a pure rate basis, Josh Donaldson is the best third baseman of this decade. He might have a lower total WAR than Adrian Beltre, but Donaldson has more WAR per game. He was an absolute machine for the early part of the decade, never having a wRC+ lower than 130. He had 3 straight years with a wRC+ above 150. Overall he averaged a 139 wRC+ for the decade. And thats without even talking about defense. 53 total DRS in 7065.2 innings. He really did it all

Callie Tsai

Outfield: Mike Trout, Mookie Betts, Jose Bautista

Others Receiving Votes: Brett Gardner, Alex Gordon

Trout and Betts need no introduction – they’re the top two outfielders in the AL in WAR over the decade, and two of four players to post 10+ WAR seasons in the decade. The third spot is more contested, and while you have to go down the WAR leaderboards to number 7 among AL outfielders to find Gordon, I went with him primarily because he had better peak years than any of the players above him except for Trout and Betts, and because he was a full time OF unlike Ben Zobrist and Nelson Cruz. Jose Bautista could easily sub in for Gordon, but I went with Gordon partially due to defense and partially because I think he deserves some representation.

Ryan Ruhde

Starting Pitcher: Chris Sale, Justin Verlander, David Price, Felix Hernandez, Corey Kluber

Others Receiving Votes: None

You have no idea how badly I wanted to give Felix’s spot to Carlos Carrasco, who had a better SIERA, xFIP, xFIP-, K%, BB%, etc., but at the end of the day, the volume just wasn’t there. Carrasco tossed just over 700 fewer innings than King Felix, which is why he falls just shy of my #5 spot.

Callie Tsai

Relief Pitcher: Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, Zack Britton

Others Receiving Votes: Aroldis Chapman, Greg Holland, Koji Uehara, Wade Davis

Betances remains one of the most underrated relievers in the game, and while his production in the decade really occurred over a five year span, he was highly dominant in that stretch and one of few relievers to string together so many seasons at such a high level. While Miller had his ups and downs in the decade, he found a stride in its middle years and was dominant between 2014-17, most notably when he helped the Indians get over the hump as he swept his way through the 2016 postseason into the World Series. While Davis enjoyed the shortest peak years of the three, he’s the worthy representative of the dominant Royals bullpen of 2014-15 that emphasized the vitality of a great bullpen as a component of team success. Davis owns arguably the most dominant stretch of any reliever in the decade, posting three consecutive seasons with an ERA under 2 highlighted by one of the greatest relief seasons in history in 2014 and two postseason runs to the World Series in which Davis pitched a combined 25 innings and allowed just one earned run and zero home runs.

Ryan Ruhde

Everyone remembers Koji’s magical 2013 campaign, but few remember that it was surrounded by years in which he posted SIERAs of 2.11, 1.58, 1.90, 1.85, 2.78, and 2.58. He was extremely dominant for several seasons and certainly deserves a spot on this team.

Matt Fronduto

Manager: Bob Melvin

Others Receiving Votes: Ned Yost, Terry Francona, A.J. Hinch

Even with all the turnover in the A’s roster, Melvin was still able to craft 5 winning seasons and 5 playoff appearances. His ability to bring success out of his players is unmatched

Callie Tsai

There’s something to be said for taking a pretty mediocre team to back to back World Series and coming home with some hardware, right?

Matt Fronduto

National League

Catcher: Buster Posey

Others Receiving Votes: Yadier Molina

One of the best all-time primes for a catcher (42.8 fWAR from 2012-2017), an incredible defender with a knack for framing (123.6 FRM), and owner of an elusive 10 fWAR season, there is no valid argument against Buster Posey being the best catcher of the 2010s.

Matt Fronduto

First Base: Joey Votto

Others Receiving Votes: Freddie Freeman

Votto accumulated the 3rd most fWAR, topped by only Trout and Posey, and led the majors with a .428 OBP throughout the decade.

Andrew Horwath

Votto has been overlooked his whole career, and I nearly overlooked him in this process. My gut was telling me to put Goldschmidt here, but after looking at the numbers, it became clear that Votto was the more valuable player. Along with Goldy, any of Freeman, Carpenter, Rizzo, or several others all have solid claims to this position. Among those four runner-ups, Votto leads all of them in walk rate, batting average, OBP, wOBA, wRC+, and overall fWAR. 

Matt O’Halloran

Second Base: Chase Utley

Others Receiving Votes: Daniel Murphy

In the 2010s, Chase Utley, Daniel Murphy, Neil Walker, and Brandon Phillips are all within the margin of error of WAR of each other to considered relatively equal. Ultimately, I gave the nod to Murphy as I feel he was the most complete hitter among the bunch (He leads the pack with a 116 wRC+), as well as his postseason performance with the Mets that truly launched him to his (albeit brief) stardom. He also played more games at second base in the National League than the other players mentioned. 

Matt O’Halloran

While no second baseman truly stood out from the rest with exceptional stats throughout the decade, Utley was still very good in the early years of the 2010s and productive as late as 2017. Though he was past his prime for the better part of the decade, Utley was still productive to cap off a great career and earn the spot, even if for lack of a truly great second baseman in the NL over the course of the decade.

Ryan Ruhde

Shortstop: Troy Tulowitzki

Others Receiving Votes: Brandon Crawford

Troy Tulowizki only had 4 full seasons in the National League in the 2010s. He still finished with more WAR than any other shortstop in the NL. In his time in the NL, he had 4 seasons with a wRC+ north of 130 and 34 DRS in 5131.2 innings. He was a great all around player. If only he wasn’t hurt so much

Callie Tsai

Third Base: Nolan Arenado

Others Receiving Votes: Anthony Rendon, Kris Bryant

While there are four candidates who merit legitimate consideration at a third base position that was stacked by the end of the decade, Rendon stands out for his consistency as well as his excellence. Rendon doesn’t own the most valuable single season by an NL third baseman, nor is he the most consistent thanks to a slight drop off in 2015 and 2016, but factoring in both of these components, Rendon has been truly excellent this decade and excelled as a vital piece of a championship team to cap off the decade.

Ryan Ruhde

Like Josh Donaldson, Kris Bryant was the best third baseman on a rate basis. Despite being 4th overall in WAR, he has the best WAR per games played of any third baseman. In his 5 years in the majors, he’s had 4 years with a wRC+ greater than 130 and 2 years with a wRC+ better than 140. He’s not spectacular defensively, but he’s definitely solid. Just -1 DRS in 4930.1 innings.

Callie Tsai

This spot was between Arenado and Rendon for me. They are both superstars among superstars. Each have a terrific argument for this spot and for the best third basemen in baseball right now among an unbelievably crowded group. Rendon has a small advantage in fWAR (32.7 to Arenado’s 31.3), but I gave the nod to Arenado as WAR (or any other statistic) still does not take into account the hangover effect that Rockies players experience when playing on the road. Arenado belted 227 home runs this decade, with a 120 wRC+ while playing Brooks-esque defense at the hot corner.

Matt O’Halloran

Outfield: Andrew McCutchen, Bryce Harper, Giancarlo Stanton

Others Receiving Votes: Christian Yelich, Hunter Pence, Ryan Braun

Harper is simultaneously the most overrated and underrated player in baseball. While I tend to be lower on Harper than most, he has still shown to be one the best hitters in baseball when healthy, and while his production has been inconsistent, he still managed to be second among NL outfielders in fWAR, and his 2015 campaign is too great to ignore. 

It’s easy to forget just how great McCutchen was, but from 2012-2014 he had three straight seasons of at least 7 fWAR. That span was capped on either side by a 5.4 and 6.0 win season. He lead all NL Outfielders in fWAR (by over 10 wins), as well as games played (1427)

Matt O’Halloran

Starting Pitcher: Clayton Kershaw, Max Scherzer, Jacob DeGrom, Zack Greinke, Stephen Strasburg

Others Receiving Votes: Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto

For Starting Pitching, what hurts guys like Jon Lester and Cole Hamels is that they split time between leagues, which hurts their candidacy of guys who pitched the entire decade in one league. Both Strasburg and Sabathia were considerations but Strasburg lacked innings and Sabathia lacked dominance.

Andrew Horwath

Clayton Kershaw threw 1996 innings and had a 2.31 ERA. He had 3 seasons with a sub 2 ERA and 9 seasons with a sub 3 ERA. There’s not much else to say. He is the greatest pitcher of this generation. Jacob deGrom may have only thrown 1101.2 innings but they were a spectacular 1101.2 innings. Of his 6 seasons in the 2010s, he had 4 seasons with a sub 3 ERA and 1 with a sub 2 ERA. He was also a strikeout machine, mowing down 28.6% of the batters he faced. Max Scherzer, like deGrom, is at a distinct disadvantage due to his lack of innings. Just 1050.2 innings in 5 years in the NL. But in those 5 years he did not once have an ERA greater than 3.00, and he struck out more than 250 batters 4 times. His 33.1 strikeout percentage was the best among all NL starters for the decade. Johnny Cueto was a severely underrated pitcher for the decade. He had 5 years with a sub 3 ERA and had a 2.96 ERA over 1429.2 innings. He never had any crazy spectacular years, but he was consistently a top pitcher. For Zack Grenkie, it’s all about peak. He spent 8 years in the NL, and he only had 3 sub 3 ERA seasons. But those 3 seasons were incredible. A 2.30 ERA while throwing 602.2 innings. It was enough to balance out Grenkie’s less than stellar seasons and give him a 3.04 ERA over 1612 innings. 

Callie Tsai

Relief Pitcher: Kenley Jansen, Craig Kimbrel, Aroldis Chapman

Others Receiving Votes: Mark Melancon

Kenley Jansen’s consistency is untouchable. Since making his debut in 2010, he has thrown 611.2 innings and has maintained a 2.35 ERA while striking out 37.6 of the batters he faced over that time period. He has 3 seasons with a sub 2 ERA and 7 seasons with a sub 3 ERA. He was lock down. Aroldis Chapman, like Jansen, made his debut in 2010. While he may not have the innings total that Jansen has, his peak is much better. Chapman had 3 seasons with a sub 2 ERA and never had a season with an ERA north of 3.00. His strikeout percentage of 43.1 percent is also the best all time. Craig Kimbrel spent 5 full seasons in the NL, and in each and every one of those seasons he was absolutely lock down. He had 3 years with a sub 2 ERA and 5 with a sub 3 ERA. He also struck out 40.6% of batters he faced. He was downright dominant

Callie Tsai

Manager: Bruce Bochy

Others Receiving Votes: None

It’s pretty hard/impossible to quantify a manager’s performance, but I’d imagine that a trio of rings is a good place to start. 

Matt Fronduto

Bochy had the most World Series titles as a manager throughout the decade. He utilized his bullpen magnificiently especially in October.

Andrew Horwath

He may not have the best win loss record, but winning 3 world series is never an easy task. And the fact that he was able to do it in 5 years is incredible

Callie Tsai

So, what did you think? Let us know on Twitter or in the comments below!

Here’s to another great decade of baseball starting in 2020!


Featured Photo: Brandon Anderson/Twitter (@b_son4)

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Jordan Lazowski

I'm a Senior Math and Economics major at the University of Notre Dame. I'm from Chicago, Illinois, and I am a huge White Sox fan. Feel free to reach out and talk baseball - Lucas Giolito slander will not be tolerated, however. Twitter: @jlazowski14

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