Baseball’s All-Decade Team

2010 January 3
by CajoleJuice

I figured that before I decided on this team that I’d go to to take a look at their historical WAR data for the decade. Fangraphs only goes back to 2002 with their WAR calculations. I had good ideas already for each position, and for the most part the WAR totals agreed with my preconceptions, but there were a few surprises. I’m going to state right here that I might as well entitle this post “’s All-Decade Team” because I’m basically just going by their WAR calcs. To make sure to highlight that fact, I’ll put each player’s WAR next to his name.

C – Jorge Posada (39.9 WAR)

He’s never been close to as good as Joe Mauer is right now, which is why I feel so dirty putting him above Mauer. But he’s been around the entire decade and I’d say he hit pretty damn well for a catcher. 208 HR and 819 RBI are solid counting stats.

Backup – Joe Mauer (33.1 WAR)

I saved my words for the guy with the potential to be the greatest catcher ever. Three batting titles in five full years. An explosion of power this year that made him as feared as Mike Piazza. I’m not sure if all the power will stay, but he’s actually a good catcher, too! He made one of the more heads-up and athletic plays you’ll ever see a catcher make when he stopped himself from throwing to first on a bunt attempt, only to turn back around, run down, dive, and tag Brett Gardner — one of the fastest dudes in the league — before he could scurry and slide home. Mike Piazza would’ve made the throw to first and the guy would have been safe. The Twins HAVE to sign him or else I’ll just be totally disillusioned with baseball free agency — like that hasn’t happened before. But really, the guy is a once-in-a-generation player. If I were a Twins fan and he ended up somewhere else, I’d burn all my Twins memorabilia.

1B – Albert Pujols (76.6 WAR)

The most valuable player of the decade, and he got started a year late. What can be said about the guy that hasn’t been said already? When your WORST batting line of the decade is .314/.394/.561, I think you can say you’ve had a decent nine years. His average Triple Crown numbers were .334 BA, 41 HR, and 124 RBI. Disgusting. He would have the Decade Triple Crown if it were not for A-Rod. Now I’m curious to see if anyone has ever accomplished that.

I found this page that said Rogers Hornsby is the only player to do it. But if Hornsby counts, then Pujols does — it’s an AL/NL thing.

Backup – Todd Helton (53.1 WAR)

Sure, his home park for the entire decade was Coors Field, but Helton was still an absolutely fantastic hitter for most of it, and also a great fielder. An OPS over 1.000 is impressive wherever you play.

2B – Jeff Kent (36.2 WAR)

Another player whose spot on the list is due primarily to being around the entire decade, barely beating out a superior player who arrived in the middle of the 00s. But I shouldn’t take too much away from Kent; he mashed to a OPS+ of 130 while hitting 216 HR and racking up 850 RBI. Not a bad decade for a second baseman. And he was serviceable in the field, unlike say, Dan Uggla.

Backup – Chase Utley (34.6 WAR)

Well, that just doesn’t sound right. Utley has been a top-5 player — and that’s conservative — for the past five years. That he racked up that much value in half a decade should tell you something. He hits, he fields, and he runs. Over the past five seasons, he’s averaged 39 2B, 29 HR, 101 RBI, 111 R, and 15 SB (with only 2 CS). I still can’t get over his perfect 23-23 in steal attempts last year. Oh, and he should probably have a few Gold Gloves by now, at least.

SS – Alex Rodriguez (72.9 WAR)

Yeah, I went there. A-Rod might have been the best shortstop of all-time if it weren’t for Derek Jeter. A-Rod was the better fielding shortstop when he came to the Yankees, but unfortunately, captain status and World Series rings outweigh actual ability. Jeter’s Total Zone rating for the years 2000-2003 (the four before A-Rod): -19, -15, -15, -13. I don’t even need to post A-Rod’s numbers because there’s no way they could be worse than that. In terms of hitting, he was pretty good. He led the decade in HR, RBI and R at 435, 1243, and 1190, respectively. Not a bad 10 years.

Backup – Derek Jeter (46.2 WAR)

Jeter is relegated to backup, but he had a damn fine decade. He racked up close to 2000 hits, scored over 1000 runs, stole over 200 bases, hit .317, and got two more World Series rings. It’s just a shame he has no range. The man is a lock for the Hall of Fame regardless, and will likely go down as the third-best shortstop ever (behind Honus Wagner and Cal Ripken Jr.).

3B – Chipper Jones (50.0 WAR)

Chipper just plain hit this decade. A .311/.413/.547 line that works out to a OPS+ of 147. He’s had some injury problems, but he still to both score and drive in over 900 runs, and hit 273 HR, tormenting Mets fans while he was at it. He’s a Hall of Famer.

Backup – Scott Rolen (47.1 WAR)

While Chipper hit, Rolen fielded. Perhaps not quite as masterful a fielder as Brooks Robinson, but certainly a better hitter, Rolen quietly put together a very valuable decade, even if his hitting has slipped a bit in recent years. He still managed a 125 OPS+ over the last ten years.

LF – Barry Bonds (64.4 WAR)

Bonds for the first half of this decade was in God Mode. He wasn’t content with being the best player in baseball in the 90s, he almost did it again in the 00s. Well, he managed it for the first half, at least. From 2001-2004, he put together four straight years with over 10 WAR, three of them over 12. That’s just not fair. His OPS+ for the decade? 221. He was 121% better than the average MLB hitter. Holy fuck.

Backup – Bobby Abreu (44.7 WAR)

This one choice is probably the only time I have an issue with the WAR calculations. I don’t care how atrocious he is in the field, I would’ve picked Manny. But I can’t deviate from the WAR gospel now! Abreu’s extra 1000 or so PAs are what put him over Manny, it seems. But he did average 30 SB a season, get on base at a 40% clip, and hit over 400 doubles. It’s really killing me not to put Manny over him, though. I can’t think of a team that would have taken Abreu over Manny at any point this decade, except maybe during that steroid suspension. Damn you,!

CF – Carlos Beltran (50.1 WAR)

You’ve heard it plenty of times already — the most under-appreciated player in baseball. His contract says otherwise. I do think this is one spot where Total Zone disagrees with UZR a bit, though. Due to this, Beltran gets more of a boost in the WAR calculation in comparison to on Fangraphs. But either way, everyone can agree that Beltran is at the very least a solid center fielder. When you throw in the 121 OPS+ and the 295 steals with only 30 caught stealings, you have a pretty awesome all-around player.

Backup – Jim Edmonds (46.3 WAR)

Might be even more under-appreciated than Beltran. Everyone knows Edmonds was an absolutely ridiculous center fielder, and Total Zone backs it up — UZR doesn’t though. Maybe this discrepancy is just endemic to center fielders not named Andruw Jones, who knows. But Edmonds wasn’t all glove, he was a great hitter too. Even though he had to deal with injuries, he managed to hit 261 HR and both score and drive in over 700 runs due to his 140 OPS+.

RF – Ichiro Suzuki (50.7)

Ah, the player who does everything but hit for power. Over 2000 hits in the decade, over only 9 seasons. Almost 1000 runs, even though the Mariners weren’t exactly a great hitting team this decade. Stole 341 bases while getting caught 79 times. And he patrolled right field better than anyone since Clemente.

Backup – Vladimir Guerrero (45.2 WAR)

Certainly a better hitter than Ichiro, with an even stronger arm, but the lack of speed hurt him in both the outfield and the basepaths in comparison to Ichiro. He stole half the bases while getting caught almost the same amount, and had nowhere the amount of range of the speedy Japanese wonder. But he could sure hit: 315 HR with a .315 average, and a good percentage of those hits were on balls out of the strike zone.

SP – Roy Halladay (44.5 WAR)

You shouldn’t need WAR calculations to tell you that Halladay was one of the very best pitchers of the decade, but somehow MLB Network put him sixth on their list, behind Andy Pettitte, because the latter won the most games in the decade. Wow. Maybe Halladay should’ve struck out more guys instead of throwing all those pointless complete games — he had 47, with 14 of them being shutouts. Both handily led the decade. He threw 1883.1 innings with an ERA+ of 133. His K/BB ratio was 3.74. He also managed to go 139-69 while playing for the Blue Jays in a division with both the Yankees and Red Sox. I’m gonna get crazy and say that if Halladay played for the Yankees and Pettitte played for the Blue Jays, their win-loss records might have been a bit different.

SP – Randy Johnson (42.7 WAR)

Just an absolute beast at the beginning of the 00s. Three straight Cy Young awards, 64 wins, 1053 K, 188 ERA+ to kick off the decade (this is ignoring his equally insane 1999). And then after an injury-plagued 2003, he came back a monster again in 2004. But after that, the decade is pretty much a wash. That’s what happens when a 6’10″ dude with back problems turns 40. He wasn’t awful, but he wasn’t good either. But overall, I’d say he had an OK decade, what with 143 wins and 2182 strikeouts.

SP – Johan Santana (42.1 WAR)

Pedro-lite. He won two Cy Youngs, should’ve won three, and arguably could’ve won four. He got a bit of a late start, as he was used as a reliever when he came up, but he quickly got accustomed to the starting role, it seems. Each year from 2004-06, he led the AL in Ks, ERA+ and WHIP. He had a 143 ERA+, a 3.66 K/BB ratio, and a 1.113 WHIP for the decade. I don’t want to imagine the Mets without him.

SP – Roy Oswalt (39.5 WAR)

I feel somewhat forgotten down in Houston, Oswalt threw 1803.1 innings, and racked up 137 wins while pitching to a 137 ERA+. He was definitely one of the more consistently great starters in the league until this year. Maybe I’m guilty of forgetting him, as I have nothing else to say.

SP – Mark Buerhle (39.4 WAR)

Buerhle might be the most consistent of all. He makes this list due to being a total workhorse. He threw 2061 innings in the decade, and 2000 only contained 51.1 of those. He has pitched at least 200 innings in every single season since then. Neither his 122 ERA+ not 135-97 record is spectacular, but hey, he threw a perfect game and also broke the record for most consecutive putouts. Would back-to-back perfect games have helped his eventual Hall of Fame case? It might not matter, as he looks like he could get to 300 wins, Tom Glavine-style.

SP – Pedro Martinez (39.2 WAR)

From 1997-2003, Pedro was the best pitcher in baseball history. During the part that came in this decade (2000-03), he went 59-17 with a 224 ERA+, .899 WHIP, and 6.19 K/BB. That’s obscene. He only managed 112 wins over the entire decade, only throwing 1468.0 innings, but his ERA+ of 154 leads the decade among starters. When he pitched, he pitched awesome. Except for three out of four years with the Mets. FML.

SP – Javier Vazquez (39.0 WAR)

The most mystifying pitcher of the decade. His WAR is so high despite his underwhelming 128-116 record. How could that be? He sucks in high leverage situations, for whatever reason. He also had shitty fielding behind him and didn’t play for the best of teams for many years. But, like Buerhle, he’s here partially because of his durability. he threw at least 198 innings every season, totaling 2163 IP for the decade. His 113 ERA+ isn’t great either, but he did have a 3.79 K/BB due to striking out 2001 batters. I still don’t know what to think of him, really.

SP – Curt Schilling (37.7 WAR)

He might have missed the last two years of the decade, but he was great enough that he still accumulated a shitton of value. Perhaps his K/BB ratio of 6.01 over the entire decade had something to do with it. There’s never been a power pitcher with control like that. He had three 20-win seasons, threw 26 complete games, and had a 133 ERA+. You might have also heard about his postseason achievements.

RP – Mariano Rivera (33.6 WAR)

The only reliever here. Why? Because he’s the only one that deserves it. There is Mariano Rivera, and then there is every other closer. He led the decade with 397 saves while posting a 214 ERA+ and .960 WHIP. He’s kinda not human. You could fill the rest of the bullpen with the extra starting pitchers.

That’s it. 25 players. One decade. I didn’t even do any thinking. Just spreadsheet summation. I really should go back and switch Manny in for Abreu. Fucking Bobby Abreu? Really?

Related posts:

  1. Any Reason For Me To Make A Best-Of-The-Decade Post(s)?
  2. If He Played For Any Other Team, Chase Utley Would Be My Favorite Baseball Player
  3. Bad Announcing Team Opening Night

  • Malek

    You forgot to add Vernon Wells.

    • CajoleJuice

      22.6 WAR. 15th outfielder, maybe?