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The All-Decade Team
The Best Players from 2000-2009
by the Co-Founders of BaseballEvolution.com
December 31,2009



It's the end of the decade.  Time to evaluate the best players of the past ten years and to prognosticate who the best players of the next ten years will be.  Here are our picks with statistics from 2000-2009 and commentary where appropriate.  Feel free to email us with disagreements and players we may have overlooked, but please keep the "Hey, this decade doesn't actually end until 2011" emails to yourself.

Best Overall Players of this Decade, by Contribution in this Decade:

Best overall hitter: Barry Bonds (317-697-.322/1.241)

We realize that he only played seven seasons this decade, but it's hard to argue with a .517 OBP and a .724 SLG.
 
Best overall fielder: Ivan Rodriguez (4 Gold Gloves, 347 SBA, 237 CSA, 40.6 CS%)

Omar Vizquel merits an honorable mention, but it's hard to think that he impacted his games as much as Pudge did.  Not Vizquel's fault, really, as it has more to do with the differences between the positions than the differences between the players.
 
Best overall pitcher: Pedro Martinez (112-50, 3.01 ERA in 1468 IP)

This comes down to Pedro, Johan Santana (122-60, 3.12 in 1710 IP), and the underrated Roy Oswalt (137-70, 3.23 in 1803 IP).  Obviously, Martinez did not pitch as much as the other to did, but he had clearly better rate stats and peripherals despite having pitched in harsher conditions than the other two.
 
Best overall closer: Mariano Rivera (2.08 ERA, 397 saves in 713 IP)
Most disappointing hitter overall: Ken Griffey, Jr. (232-677-.264/.857)

Just ten years ago, Ken Griffey Jr. was guaranteed to break Hank Aaron's home run record and poised to bring the next generation of the Big Red Machine to Cincinnati.  As it happened, Griffey was an injury-riddled nightmare, doing as much damage to his own team on defense as he did to others on offense.
 
Most disappointing pitcher overall: Kerry Wood (67-58, 3.71 in 1108 IP)

When a 20-year old pitcher strikes out 20 batters in one game, anything less than a Hall of Fame career is a disappointment.  It should be noted, however, that Wood's 3.71 ERA ranks 18th among pitchers with at least 1,000 innings this decade.
 
Best players making their debuts in this decade, by contribution in this decade:

Best new hitter: Albert Pujols (366-1112-.334/1.055)
Best new fielder: Ichiro Suzuki (9 Gold Gloves, 83 Assists, 24 Errors)
Best new pitcher: Johan Santana (122-60, 3.12 in 1710 IP)
Best new closer: Francisco Rodriguez (2.53 ERA, 243 saves in 520 IP
Most disappointing new hitter: Chris Young  (71-205-.235/.745)

After nearly becoming the first rookie to ever go 30-30, the sky appeared to be the limit for this toolsy centerfielder.  That is, he appeared that way to people who hadn't watched him flail away haplessly at curveballs all year. Young now gets a steady diet of breaking pitches every at-bat and even his stellar defensive play may not be enough to keep him in the big leagues. 
 
Most disappointing new pitcher: Mark Prior (42-29, 3.51 in 657 IP)

The man with supposedly impeccable mechanics has become nothing more than a punch line due to constant injuries. Oliver Perez merits a mention here as well.  Had his 2004 season occurred in New York rather than Pittsburgh, he would have been touted as the best young pitcher in the game.  In reality, he wouldn't become overrated in New York until he had already proven himself a complete bust.
 
Best Players Who Didn't Make It out of This Decade:

Best retiring hitter: Barry Bonds
Best retiring fielder: Jim Edmonds
Best retiring pitcher: Roger Clemens
Best retiring closer: Roberto Hernandez

Official word of retirement could have put either Troy Percival or Armando Benitez here over Hernandez.

Best Players Based upon Anticipated Performance in the Next Decade:

Best hitter going into the next decade: Albert Pujols
Best fielder going into the next decade:  Troy Tulowitzki
Best pitcher going into the next decade: Felix Hernandez

Believe it or not, King Felix is nearly two years younger than Tim Lincecum.  He also isn't quite the injury risk that The Freak is.
 
Best closer going into the next decade: Francisco Rodriguez
 
Best Performances of this Decade, by position:

Catcher: Jorge Posada (208-819-.283/.878)
First Base: Albert Pujols (366-1112-.334/1.055)
Second Base: Jeff Kent (216-850-.300/.889)
Third Base: Chipper Jones (273-921-.311/.960)/Alex Rodriguez (238-716-.300/.968)
Shortstop: A-Rod (197-527-.308/.613)//Derek Jeter (161-727-.317/.844)

Sorta cheating here.  So sue us.  If forced, we would have to go with A-Rod at both positions, since Chipper's stats here include his two seasons in left field and neither he nor Jeter is exactly a defensive wizard.

Right Fielder: Vladamir Guerrero (315-1037-.323/.960)
Centerfielder: Jim Edmonds (261-768-.280/.937)
Left Fielder: Barry Bonds (317-697-.322/1.241)
Designated Hitter: David Ortiz (307-1016-.283/.932)

Jim Thome has only played four seasons at DH, whereas Ortiz only has 244 games at first base and has never been a full timer there.
 
Starting Rotation:
Pedro Martinez  (112-50, 3.01 ERA in 1468 IP)
Randy Johnson (143-78, 3.34 in 1885 IP)
Roy Oswalt (137-70, 3.23 in 1803 IP)
Johan Santana (122-60, 3.12 in 1710 IP)
Roy Halladay (139-69, 3.40 in 1883 IP)

Curt Schilling (117-63, 3.53 in 1569 IP) and Tim Hudson (137-76, 3.50 in 1923 IP) are honorable mentions.
 
Bullpen:
Mariano Rivera (2.08 ERA, 397 saves in 713 IP)
Billy Wagner (2.40 ERA, 284 saves in 581 IP)
Trevor Hoffman 2.77 ERA, 363 saves in 533 IP)

Surprisingly, Jason Isringhausen is tied with Wagner for the third most saves this decade.  He had a relatively high ERA of 3.03, however.
 
Best Anticipated Performances of the Next Decade by Position:

Catcher: Joe Mauer
First Base: Albert Pujols
Second Base: Chase Utley
Third Base: David Wright
Shortstop: Hanley Ramirez

Jose Reyes has a case, particularly since Hanley Ramirez may not stick at shortstop for five more years, let alone ten.  But if he does, his offensive production more than atones for his defensive demerits.

Right Fielder: Justin Upton
Centerfielder: Matt Kemp

Grady Sizemore might bounce back from his sub-par 2009 season and be the centerfielder of the teens and Curtis Granderson has a case with a left-handed stroke that should play well at Yankee Stadium.  But Matt Kemp was probably the best all-around centerfielder in baseball last year, ans it appears that he has only begun to realize his full potential.
 
Left Fielder: Ryan Braun

Defense isn't all that important in left field.

Designated Hitter: Miguel Cabrera
 
Starting Rotation:
Johan Santana
Tim Lincecum
Felix Hernandez
Justin Verlander
Dan Haren

Brandon Webb was a lock for this rotation prior to his shoulder surgery, but now, who knows what the next decade will bring?  Roy Halladay's case just got better by joining a National League team with a terrific infield defense, but his age leaves him just shy in our minds.
 
Bullpen:
Francisco Rodriguez
Jonathan Papelbon
Bobby Jenks
 
All Decade Gold Glove Team

Catcher: Ivan Rodriguez
First Base: Albert Pujols
Second Base: Orlando Hudson
Third Base: Adrian Beltre
Shortstop: Omar Vizquel
Right-fielder: Ichiro Suzuki
Center-fielder: Andruw Jones
Left-fielder: Carl Crawford
 
Next Decade Gold Glove Team

Catcher: Yadier Molina
First Base: Albert Pujols
Second Base: Chase Utley
Third Base: Ryan Zimmerman
Shortstop: Troy Tulowitski
Right-fielder: Nick Markakis
Center-fielder: Carlos Gomez
Left-fielder: Carl Crawford  

 




Questions? Concerns? Comments? the staff of Baseball Evolution can be reached at comments@baseballevolution.com.

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