Today’s all-decade team again brushes up against some more players who are known or alleged PED users. Swim at your own risk. One more thing: There was much more player movement in this decade than any prior, so though many of the following stars played on multiple teams, I’m going to restrict it to the teams where each had the most impact.
Ichiro's love of hamburgers, math and his bats https://t.co/nGtpHyxXXz
— IchiroTimes (@Ichirotimes) April 3, 2020
- Catcher – Jorge Posada, Yankees: A stud behind the plate and a leader in the clubhouse, Posada gets the nudge over Joe Mauer because he delivered much more offensive firepower. He was underrated defensively and his five Silver Slugger awards and 208 home runs in the decade put him at the top of the list for catchers.
- First Base – Albert Pujols, Cardinals: Prince Albert posted a .334/.427/.628 line with 366 homers over nine seasons starting in 2001, good for a 172 OPS+ (and a 173 wRC+). For reference, Stan Musial had an OPS+ of 171 through his age-29 season. Pujols was Rookie of the Year in ’01, and won the NL MVP in 2005, ’08, and ’09.
- Second Base – Jeff Kent, Giants: Though not as great defensively as Chase Utley, Kent gets the nod because of prodigious power. The San Francisco keystone averaged 22 home runs and 85 RBI with an .889 OPS across the decade. Kent also played for the Astros and Dodgers.
- Shortstop – Derek Jeter, Yankees: I’m still amazed that people think Jeter is overrated. In the decade, Captain Clutch hit .317/.386/.456, good for a 121 OPS+. He was also is an accomplished base runner, coming off a 30-steal 2009 and a decade success rate of 82.3 percent. The irony of all the people who talk about what Jeter cannot do is they tend to forget everything he could do, which is a lot. And he was one of those athletes that just always won.
- Third Base – Alex Rodriguez, Yankees: You hate him, as well you should. He was caught using PEDs a couple times near the end of his career and probably would have been caught again if he hadn’t retired. Nevertheless, A-Rod was arguably the best player of the decade, slashing .304/.401/.989 with a 154 OPS+. He cracked the 1.000 mark for OPS five times and added 179 stolen bases.
- Outfield – Manny Ramirez, Indians: An All-Star in each season except 2009, Ramirez earned seven Silver Slugger awards thanks to 348 home runs, 1,106 RBI and a decade-long OPS of 1.018.
- Outfield – Ichiro Suzuki, Mariners: Ichiro walked in only 6.2 percent of his plate appearances and still managed to hit .333 for the decade. His ISO (isolated power stat) was barely north of .100 and his overall slash line was.333/.378/434 good for a 118 OPS+. The batting average is nothing to sneeze at and compares favorably to St. Louis Browns legend George Sisler. Suzuki added 374 steals and was better than adequate as a fielder. Plus, he was a true leadoff hitter and every team could benefit from a player who can get an extra 100-125 plate appearances and hit that well.
- Outfield – Barry Bonds, Giants: Bonds was arguably better in the 2000’s than he was at any point of his career previously, and his alleged use of illegal performance boosters is probably why. Bonds played until he was 42, hitting more home runs after his age-35 season than any player in the history of the game, including a ridiculous 73 in 2001.
- DH – Alfonso Soriano, Yankees: He started the decade as a second baseman and finished in the outfield, but Soriano was far more hit than field. He could routinely be counted on for 30 taters and 30 steals, making seven All-Star appearances with the Yankees, Rangers, Nationals, and Cubs.
- SP – Pedro Martinez, Red Sox: See yesterday’s dissection of the best players of the 1990’s for synopses on Martinez and the next on the list.
- SP – Randy Johnson, Diamondbacks
- SP – Roy Halladay, Blue Jays: Despite pitching in the same division as the Yankees, Red Sox, and Rays, Halladay managed a 3.47 FIP, a 3.29 K/BB (3.74 in the decade), and an decade ERA+ of 134. He won his first of two Cy Young awards in 2003, with a record of 130-59 from 2002-09.
- SP – Roy Oswalt, Astros: Oswalt quietly amassed 137 wins across the decade, with a 43.4 WAR and 1,473 strike outs. He never won a Cy Young and was surprisingly named to just three All-Star teams. Nevertheless, you could always count on a peak performance from the undersized righty.
- SP – Johan Santana, Twins: Underrated and remarkably consistent, Santana earned two Cy Young awards and had a decade-long 3.66 K/BB rate with a 3.38 FIP in a hitter’s era. The crafty left-hander had an amazing ability to strand runners — constantly over 75 percent — and a 143 ERA+ in 10 seasons with the Twins and Mets. He had an absurd .670 win percentage, finishing the 2000’s with a record of 122-60.
- Closer – Mariano Rivera, Yankees: The Sandman posted a 215 ERA+, 4.88 K/BB, and 0.960 WHIP with 397 saves. He was lights-out and is baseball’s only unanimous selection to the Hall of Fame.
- Manager – Joe Torre, Yankees: He averaged 95 wins per season, with three AL pennants and a World Series championship in 2001, just one of four he won while leading New York.
Cubs News & Notes
- What would your all-time Cubs team look like? Would you pick Mark Grace or Cap Anson at first base? Would any current Cubs like Kris Bryant or Anthony Rizzo make your team?
- Bryant’s wife Jess might garner a vote or two once you see her performance in the batting cage.
- Cubs Insider EIC Evan Altman interviewed speedy NRI outfielder Ian Miller over the weekend.
- The CI simulated Cubs season continues with Sean Holland manning the helm yesterday, and Chicago lost a heartbreaker to the Diamondbacks, 7-5, dropping the North Siders to 4-5 on the faux-season. Nice to have Sean doing a recap!
- Meanwhile, the Strat-O-Matic Cubs continue to roll, and are now 7-2, including a perfect 6-0 record at Wrigley Field, after yesterday’s 3-2 win over Arizona.
- Here are the best trades in team history. Getting Jake Arrieta from the Orioles for Scott Feldman has to top the list, right?
- Ian Happ is an avid golfer with a 2 handicap, according to Golf Digest. He competed in the Straight Down Fall Classic in San Luis Obispo, CA the last two Novembers and uses golf to help raise money to introduce the sport to young adults and children.
- Happ, Zack Short, Dakota Mekkes, and Nico Hoerner are broadcasting a baseball-themed podcast to keep busy while the season is on hold and to entertain fans starving for the return of America’s pastime. You can catch it on Spotify if you’d like to tune in.
- Craig Kimbrel is expected by many to have a bounce-back season and he has been spectacular so far across some of the various simulated seasons. Kimbrel’s pitching stance is widely mocked, but it was something he was forced into in 2010 when he suffered from biceps tendinitis.
Odds & Sods
In what is believed to be the first known infection in an animal in the U.S., officials said a tiger at the Bronx Zoo has tested positive for COVID-19. Other tigers and lions at the zoo are similarly sick.
Apropos of Nothing
Quibi, a smartphone app featuring short-form video content, is set to debut today. Led by Jeffrey Katzenberg and Meg Whitman, the start-up has attracted a host of Hollywood and athlete A-listers, including LeBron James.
MLB News & Notes
FOX announcer Joe Buck revealed why he believes you think he hates your favorite team. Unless you are a Cardinals fan, that is.
St. Louis great Bob Gibson is suffering from cancer and truly fighting for his life, but believes he still has a bullet or two left in his arsenal. “The reaper came the other day,” Gibson said. And I wouldn’t answer the door.”
The Chinese Professional Baseball League in Taiwan intends to start its baseball season this month.
Minority owners of the Diamondbacks are suing the organization for perceived forced buyouts of their shares in the team.
I watched Jon Lester throw this no-hitter and it was one of the most chills-inducing moments of my lifetime.
— Gordon Edes (@GordonEdes) April 6, 2020
They Said It
- “Not only do you have to see my face and my gigantic head, but you have to listen to me get excited [when something good happens for the opposing team], which you don’t all year. So you’re watching in Boston or in New York, and it’s state run TV…it’s ‘we’re the best, we’re the best…yay, we just hit a home run…boo, the other team just hit a home run.’ And then I show up when you care the most, and not only did you lose, but I’m screaming and yelling because another team just beat you. It’s all so natural. But that’s just kind of the life I have to [accept]. It’s either that or don’t do it, there’s no way around that.” – Joe Buck
Monday Walk Up Song
Give It by Lambchop – I’m really digging the live performance vibe, so I may run with it for awhile. It’s something I miss a great deal. This effort, from the Merge Records 20th anniversary concert, is one of my favorites