- Three-man ballot for the nine non-pitcher positions. A first place vote is worth three points, second place two points, and third place one point. Most points wins.
- Five-man ballot for starting pitchers and relievers. A first place vote is worth five points, second place four points, so on and so forth. Again, most points wins.
C: Buster Posey, Giants
I find it amazing that the same five pitchers appeared on all five ballots in our poll. These five pitchers separated themselves from the rest of the pack in the 2010s, though others like Madison Bumgarner, Cole Hamels, Felix Hernandez, Jon Lester, Corey Kluber, David Price, and Stephen Strasburg are among those who deserve an honorable mention for their decades of dominance.
To celebrate the end of the decade, we here at CBS Sports compiled our All-Decade Team. We set out to answer this simple question: Who was the best player at each position throughout the 2010s? Me and my fellow CBS Sports scribes R.J. Anderson, Katherine Acquavella, Dayn Perry, and Matt Snyder put together the All-Decade Team with the following voting system:
1B: Miguel Cabrera, Tigers
That lineup leans right-handed — it’s pretty remarkable eight of our nine All-Decade Team hitters are righties considering lefties have a natural platoon advantage (right-handed pitchers outnumber lefties roughly two-to-one) — but it wouldn’t matter. The All-Decade Team lineup is dangerous one through nine.
Molina was second among catchers in hits (1,367), total bases (2,016), and WAR (31.9) during the decade, plus he has a ring of his own. He also caught the most games in the 2010s (1,273) — Jonathan Lucroy was a distant second at 1,068 — and went to eight All-Star Games and won seven Gold Gloves. Molina has accomplished everything there is to accomplish in this game.
|Nearly 30 percent of the decade’s first place MVP votes went to one player even though he essentially spotted the league the 2010 and 2011 seasons. Pretty ridiculous.||Posey and Molina were both great. Thanks to the offense and overall production, Posey was a tick better. The race for third place was every bit as interesting as the race for first place. Grandal, Martin, and Mauer all received third-place votes in our poll. Salvador Perez received consideration as well. Posey and Molina were clearly the top two catchers in the 2010s.||There is of course a certain level of subjectivity to something like an All-Decade Team. It’s similar to Hall of Fame voting. Peak and longevity both matter, but some players may lack one or the other. In that case, we have to decide whether the high peak can make up for the lack of longevity, or vice versa. I’m not sure there’s a “right” answer in an exercise like this. Just a consensus.||I went into this exercise expecting Ortiz to win the DH spot handily. He retired following the 2016 though — was it really that long ago? geez, where does the time go — whereas Cruz and Encarnacion played the entire decade. Cruz led the 2010s in homers and his 961 RBI were two behind Albert Pujols for the most in the 2010s. It’s hard to argue with that production.|
|14||Fun fact: Stanton ranked third in homers in the 2010s despite being 47th in plate appearances. He was the game’s premier power source this past decade and he did it while playing most of his games in pitcher-friendly ballparks in Miami. Stanton won an MVP (2017), led the league in homers twice and slugging percentage thrice, and had the decade’s sixth best park-adjusted OPS.||Because it is easy to forget just how great he was earlier in his career, consider this a reminder Tulowitzki hit like an All-Star first baseman in the first five years of the decade. He was a marvelous two-way player and among the game’s truly elite, then injuries slowed him down. Consider his ranks among shortstops in the 2010s (min. 2,000 plate appearances for rate stats):||HR|
|Trout (72.5)||In the Kimbrel vs. Chapman race, Kimbrel has the edge in saves (346 to 273), ERA (2.08 to 2.23), ERA+ (195 to 185), strikeouts (898 to 883), and WAR (19.6 to 17.5). They have identical 41.1 percent strikeout rates, which is absolutely bonkers. Kimbrel has the edge almost across the board, though pretty much every category is close, and Chapman had more success in the postseason. Not quite a toss-up, but close enough.||Encarnacion was second in homers (335) and RBI (956) in the 2010s — that’s among all players, not only DHs — and that’s the name of the game with the DH. Who did the most damage offensively? Well, Ortiz on a rate basis, but Cruz and Encarnacion did it just as well and for a few extra years, giving them the edge in our poll. The 2010s were a great decade for DHs. There’s a few all-timers among this group.||Cano gets our nod at second base, PED suspension be damned, and Altuve is the obvious runner-up. Kinsler was a sneaky-great player throughout the 2010s and a positive on pretty much every team he played. Ironically, Zobrist’s candidacy was hurt by his versatility, something that made him so valuable to his teams. He played far more games at second base than any other position, though he only had three seasons as a full-time second baseman in the 2010s.|
|Yelich was a very good player from 2012-17 and he’s been an MVP caliber producer in 2018 and 2019, so much so that he finishes second in our voting. The fact he spent considerable time in center and right fields hurts him our voting here. He’s spent only two seasons as a full-time left fielder. Also, shoutout to Alex Gordon, who played more than 200 more games in left field than any other player in the decade, but didn’t receive a vote in our poll.||Nelson Cruz||43.5 (6th)||.428 (1st)|
|Trout (.581)||Trout (176)||.317 (1st)||OPS+|
|David Ortiz||I suspect the masses will consider this our most controversial selection. Altuve has been on the very short list of the best players in baseball the last few years — he led the league in hits four straight years from 2014-17 — and has an MVP award to his name (2017). Also, he has not served a performance-enhancing drug suspension like Cano, the player we voted the second baseman of the decade.||1||2|
|Kershaw finished this past season with a 3.03 ERA, the 10th best among qualified starters and 37 percent better than league average, and it was his worst ERA of the decade. Kershaw’s year-by-year ERAs in the 2010s look like my bank account when I’m waiting for the direct deposit to hit: 2.91, 2.28, 2.53, 1.83, 1.77, 2.13, 1.69, 2.31, 2.73, 3.03.||941 (4th)||Batting average||Cabrera|
2B: Robinson Cano, Yankees/Mariners/Mets
Betts led right fielders with 42.0 WAR in the 2010s despite not playing his first full MLB season until 2015. Had he debuted a little earlier, and if defensive stats were a little more reliable, Betts would’ve been a shoo-in as right fielder of the decade. Stanton and Bautista both had the immense production and longevity, so they finished atop our voting.
One of the easier calls in our poll. Beltre is four years away from joining the Hall of Fame ballot — he should be a first-ballot selection, but we’ll see — and he was monster two-way player during the 2010s. In fact, a case can be made Beltre was the best offensive and defensive third basemen in the decade seeing how Arenado and his golden glove didn’t debut until 2013.
The easiest call at any position. Trout led all players in WAR in the 2010s despite not making his MLB debut until 2011 and not playing his first full season until 2012. He won three of the 10 AL MVP awards in the decade and finished second in the voting on four other occasions. Here’s a fun stat:
SS: Troy Tulowitzki, Rockies/Blue Jays/Yankees
When Daniel Hudson struck out Michael Brantley to end the 2019 World Series, it also put an end to a decade of Major League Baseball. Like every other decade, the 2010s brought some great moments, some not-so-great moments, some memorable plays and games, and a generation of talent we won’t soon forget. Baseball has never been played at a higher level than it is right now.
- Batting average: .293 (2nd behind Corey Seager at .294)
- On-base percentage: .363 (1st)
- Slugging percentage: .506 (2nd behind Trevor Story at .537)
- WAR: 30.4 (2nd behind Simmons at 36.9)
Left field is a weird position. Historically, it’s where teams stash their worst outfield defender and/or that older veteran player who is no longer capable of manning center. At any given moment, the vast majority of left fielders in baseball moved there only after proving incapable of playing a more demanding position. It’s something of a last resort position.
3B: Adrian Beltre, Red Sox/Rangers
Trout was an easy call in center field, and you know what? McCutchen was an easy call for runner-up. McCutchen was productive throughout the decade and his peak from 2012-15 yielded an MVP award (2013) and three top-five finishes in the voting. Trout was clearly the best in baseball from 2012-15. McCutchen was arguably the best player in the NL those years.
Donaldson did not have his breakout season until age 27 in 2013, yet he managed to win an MVP (2015) and his 44.8 WAR was second to Beltre at the position in the decade. Maybe we dinged Arenado too much for Coors Field in our voting. I don’t think so though. Finishing third in the voting at a stacked position is in no way a knock against him. Arenado’s awesome. Donaldson was just a tad better in the 2010s though.
LF: Ryan Braun, Brewers
Gardner (38.0) and Braun (35.4) ranked first and second in WAR at the position in the 2010s and they went about it in very different ways. Gardner is a glove-first player who provides some offense here and there. Braun is the opposite. He’s all about the bat and, frankly, offensive stats are more reliable than defensive stats, so it’s easier to be confident in Braun’s measured value. It’s hard to argue with 241 homers and an OPS approaching .900, PED suspension or no PED suspension. 153 (2nd)
CF: Mike Trout, Angels
- Mike Trout: 85 first-place MVP votes from 2010-19
- All other AL players: 215 first-place MVP votes from 2010-19
Despite all that, Kershaw was not a slam dunk decision for All-Decade Team starting pitcher even if the voting makes it look that way. Scherzer won three Cy Youngs in the decade (2013, 2016, 2017) and wasn’t far behind Kershaw on the WAR leaderboard (56.1). Verlander won two Cy Youngs (2011, 2019) and an MVP (2011) and was even closer to Kershaw in WAR than Scherzer (56.2). They were very much in consideration for first-place votes.
This race comes down to longevity. Altuve made his MLB debut in 2011 and didn’t have his first great season until 2014. Cano, meanwhile, was among the game’s best players the entire decade. He led the decades in hits (1,695) and was second in WAR (54.2), and earned seven All-Star Game selections and five top-six finishes in the MVP voting in 2010s. That’s the resume of a player of the decade.
RF: Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins/Yankees
Without further delay, here is the official CBS Sports MLB All-Decade team for the 2010s. Feel free to mock and disagree with us as you see fit.
Over the past decade Kershaw has three NL Cy Youngs (2011, 2013, 2014) and an MVP award (2014), plus he finished second in the Cy Young voting in two other years. He led all pitchers in ERA (2.31), ERA+ (164), and WAR (59.3) in the 2010s, and he was third in innings (1,996). Kershaw’s decade-long peak was as good as any pitcher’s in recent memory. He was historically great.
DH: Nelson Cruz, Rangers/Orioles/Mariners/Twins
|1st Place||2nd Place||3rd Place||Points|
|Cruz (346)||Cabrera will go down as one of the 10 best right-handed hitters in history and his decade included four batting titles (2011, 2012, 2013, 2015), four on-base titles (2010, 2011, 2013, 2015), two MVPs (2012, 2013), seven All-Star selections, and of course the first Triple Crown in nearly half a century. All that gives him the very slight edge in our voting.||Consider where Cabrera and Votto rank offensively among all players in the decade, not just first basemen (min. 2,000 plate appearances for rate stats):||Consider where Cabrera and Votto rank offensively among all players in the decade, not just first basemen (min. 2,000 plate appearances for rate stats):||Consider where Cabrera and Votto rank offensively among all players in the decade, not just first basemen (min. 2,000 plate appearances for rate stats):||Another very close vote, and, in this case, you can see three distinct tiers. Kimbrel and Chapman were pretty clearly the decade’s top two relievers, Jansen was an obvious call in the third spot, and then there was everyone else. We could’ve thrown guys like Wade Davis, Greg Holland, Mark Melancon, or Sergio Romo a third-place vote and none would’ve looked out of place.||268 (7th)|
Shortstop was the trickiest and most wide open position of the decade. Tulowitzki was an MVP caliber performer who was beset by injuries. Simmons is an all-time great defensive player who hasn’t provided much offense throughout his career. Lindor did not debut until 2015. In the end, Tulowitzki narrowly beat out Simmons to earn our shortstop of the decade nod.
- CF Mike Trout
- 2B Robinson Cano
- 1B Miguel Cabrera
- DH Nelson Cruz
- 3B Adrian Beltre
- RF Giancarlo Stanton
- LF Ryan Braun
- C Buster Posey
- SS Troy Tulowitzki
SP: Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
This race was closer than the voting results would lead you to believe. Posey and Molina were essentially 1A and 1B. Ultimately, Posey’s superior offensive numbers give him the nod on our All-Decade team. He led all catchers in hits (1,378), total bases (2,086), and WAR (42.2) during the decade, won an MVP (2012), and was the centerpiece of three World Series teams.
Simmons led all players with 198 defensive runs saved in the decade — Jason Heyward was a distant second with 141 — and he very well might be the best non-Ozzie Smith defensive shortstop in baseball history. As impressive as Simmons is defensively, Tulowitzki’s superior offense gave him a narrow win in our poll. In either order, they were the two best shortstops of the 2010s. Edwin Encarnacion
RP: Craig Kimbrel, Braves/Padres/Red Sox/Cubs
For the first half of the decade, Bautista was one of the game’s most feared sluggers — Joey Bats hit the sixth most homers in the 2010s (285) despite beginning his decline in 2016 and not playing in 2019 — who went to six All-Star Games and finished in the top eight of the MVP voting four times. Let’s not let Bautista’s insane peak be forgotten because it happened early in the decade. He was awesome.
The 2010s were maybe the greatest decade for relievers in history. Ten different pitchers threw the final pitch of the World Series in the 2010s: Brian Wilson, Jason Motte, Sergio Romo, Koji Uehara, Madison Bumgarner, Wade Davis, Mike Montgomery, Charlie Morton, Chris Sale, and Daniel Hudson in that order. It’s the first time 10 different pitchers threw the final pitch of the World Series in a decade since the 1980s.