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The best of the decade at every position

@_dadler
December 17, 2019

The calendar is about to flip to a new decade. With 2020 fast approaching, it's time to look back at baseball's best of the best from the 2010s. For fun, MLB.com picked both a first and second team. We polled 73 expert voters -- MLB Network analysts and MLB.com reporters,

The calendar is about to flip to a new decade. With 2020 fast approaching, it's time to look back at baseball's best of the best from the 2010s.

For fun, MLB.com picked both a first and second team. We polled 73 expert voters -- MLB Network analysts and MLB.com reporters, analysts and editors -- on their top choices for the players of the decade at every position.

The teams are made up of the players with the highest vote totals. Both the first and second teams include one infielder at each position, three outfielders, a designated hitter, five starting pitchers and two relievers. This is the same roster breakdown used for the first All-MLB team, which was unveiled at the 2019 Winter Meetings.

Here are the rosters.

First Team
C: Buster Posey
1B: Miguel Cabrera
2B: José Altuve
3B: Adrián Beltré
SS: Francisco Lindor
OF: Mike Trout
OF: Mookie Betts
OF: Andrew McCutchen
DH: Nelson Cruz
SP: Justin Verlander
SP: Max Scherzer
SP: Clayton Kershaw
SP: Zack Greinke
SP: Chris Sale
RP: Craig Kimbrel
RP: Aroldis Chapman

Second Team
C: Yadier Molina
1B: Joey Votto
2B: Robinson Canó
3B: Nolan Arenado
SS: Troy Tulowitzki
OF: Giancarlo Stanton
OF: Bryce Harper
OF: José Bautista
DH: David Ortiz
SP: Madison Bumgarner
SP: Jacob deGrom
SP: David Price
SP: Stephen Strasburg
SP: Corey Kluber
RP: Kenley Jansen
RP: Wade Davis

Now, here's a closer look at each of the winners, position by position.

CATCHER

1st Team -- Buster Posey (SF): The first-team catcher spot was one of three positions decided by a single vote. Posey -- who won the 2012 National League MVP Award, the 2010 NL Rookie of the Year Award and is a three-time World Series champion with the Giants -- edged out Yadier Molina for top honors.

2nd Team -- Yadier Molina (STL): No one caught more games this decade than the Cardinals' leader behind the plate (1,291), and Yadi made eight All-Star teams and won seven Gold Gloves.

FIRST BASE

1st Team -- Miguel Cabrera (DET): First-team first base also came down to a single vote. Miggy's back-to-back American League MVP Awards in 2012-13 -- including a Triple Crown in '12, the first since Carl Yastrzemski's in 1967 -- helped the longtime Tigers star surpass Joey Votto.

2nd Team -- Joey Votto (CIN): Votto started the decade by winning the 2010 NL MVP Award, and the Reds cornerstone led his league in on-base percentage seven of the 10 years -- one of three hitters to do so, along with Hall of Famers Ted Williams (1940s) and Rogers Hornsby ('20s).

SECOND BASE

1st Team -- José Altuve (HOU): The Astros' star was the only player with four 200-hit seasons in the 2010s. He has more hits than anyone since his 2011 debut (1,568), and he won three batting titles and an AL MVP Award.

2nd Team -- Robinson Canó (NYY, SEA, NYM): A seven-time All-Star and six-time top-10 MVP finisher this decade, Canó led the Majors with 1,695 hits and led all second basemen with 237 home runs.

THIRD BASE

1st Team -- Adrián Beltré (BOS, TEX): Beltré only got better with age, likely cementing his place in the Hall of Fame with how he closed out his career this decade. The Rangers fan favorite made all four of his All-Star teams in the 2010s and joined the 3,000-hit club before retiring in 2018.

2nd Team -- Nolan Arenado (COL): Arenado has become the game's premier all-around third baseman. He's won the Gold Glove in all seven seasons he's played, he's won three NL home run crowns, and he closed the decade on a run of five straight All-Star seasons.

SHORTSTOP

1st Team -- Francisco Lindor (CLE): Lindor has only been in the Majors since 2015, but in his half-decade he's ascended to the top of the shortstop position and become one of the leaders of MLB's youth movement. The Indians' star has been an All-Star the last four seasons, with two Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards.

2nd Team -- Troy Tulowitzki (COL, TOR): Tulo was a five-time All-Star this decade and, at his peak, was one of the best all-around shortstops of his generation. He started the 2010s with a five-year run for the Rockies where he hit .312, slugged .553 and posted a .940 OPS, helping him beat out Andrelton Simmons for the second-team shortstop spot.

OUTFIELD

1st Team -- Mike Trout (LAA): Three AL MVP Awards, seven top-two finishes, an AL Rookie of the Year Award, eight straight All-Star seasons … the list goes on and on. The best player in baseball was an easy choice.

1st Team -- Mookie Betts (BOS): Betts' emergence as one of MLB's elite players over the second half of the 2010s -- including four All-Star teams and, in 2018, an AL MVP Award and a World Series championship with the Red Sox -- earned him his first-team outfield spot.

1st Team -- Andrew McCutchen (PIT, SF, NYY, PHI): Cutch's peak years were his five straight All-Star seasons with the Pirates from 2011-15, including an NL MVP Award in '13. He's one of three players with at least 200 homers and 150 stolen bases since 2010, along with Trout and Ryan Braun, and was a clear pick for the final first-team outfield spot.

2nd Team -- Giancarlo Stanton (MIA, NYY): The 2017 NL MVP Award winner led outfielders with 308 home runs this decade, and he was one of three hitters with 300-plus long balls, along with Nelson Cruz and Edwin Encarnación. Stanton's 59 homers in '17 are the highest single-season total of the 2010s.

2nd Team -- Bryce Harper (WSH, PHI): A generational talent and now the owner of the largest free-agent contract in MLB history, Bryce has been of the faces of MLB since the day he set foot in the big leagues as a 19-year-old in 2012. His 2015 NL MVP Award-winning season is still amazing: a .330 batting average, an NL-leading 42 homers and an MLB-leading 1.109 OPS.

2nd Team -- José Bautista (TOR, ATL, NYM, PHI): Joey Bats opened the 2010s with six straight All-Star years for the Blue Jays and won two MLB home run crowns, and he holds one of the five 50-homer seasons of the decade (54 in 2010). Bautista also produced one of the most memorable postseason moments of the decade: his home run and bat flip in Game 5 of the 2015 AL Division Series. He took the last second-team outfield spot by three votes in a tight race over Christian Yelich.

DESIGNATED HITTER

1st Team -- Nelson Cruz (TEX, BAL, SEA, MIN): Cruz hit more home runs than anyone in the 2010s -- 346 of them -- and it's incredible that he's done that at his age. The Boomstick closed the decade with six straight seasons hitting at least 37 homers, including four 40-homer campaigns, despite those being his age-33 to age-38 seasons.

2nd Team -- David Ortiz (BOS): Big Papi's career ended in 2016, and he was already a Red Sox icon when the decade began. But he cemented his legacy as one of the greatest DHs of all time in those final seven years, with five All-Star seasons and one last World Series ring and a World Series MVP trophy in 2013.

STARTING PITCHER

1st Team -- Max Scherzer (DET, WSH): Mad Max tied with Justin Verlander as the leading vote-getter among starting pitchers. Why? How about the three NL Cy Young Awards (Scherzer's one of 10 three-time winners all-time), the MLB-best 2,452 strikeouts, the two no-hitters, the 20-strikeout game and capping the decade with a brilliant postseason to help bring the Nationals their first World Series championship.

1st Team -- Justin Verlander (DET, HOU): Verlander is almost certainly a Hall of Famer after what he did in the 2010s: won two AL Cy Young Awards, an AL MVP Award, a Triple Crown and a World Series ring; threw two no-hitters; led his league in strikeouts four times; and joined both the 300-strikeout-season and 3,000-strikeout club in 2019.

1st Team -- Clayton Kershaw (LAD): Scherzer, Verlander and Kershaw are the Big Three of the 2010s. Kershaw's biggest highlights: three NL Cy Young Awards, the 2014 NL MVP Award, a Triple Crown in '11, a 301-strikeout season in '15, a no-hitter in '14 and five ERA titles. The Dodgers great received just one fewer vote than Scherzer and Verlander.

1st Team -- Zack Greinke (KC, MIL, LAA, LAD, ARI, HOU): Greinke's AL Cy Young Award came just before the 2010s began, but he was a five-time All-Star this decade and his 1.66 ERA in 2015 was the lowest since Greg Maddux's 1.63 ERA 20 years earlier.

1st Team -- Chris Sale (CHW, BOS): The final spot in the first-team starting rotation came down to Sale vs. Madison Bumgarner. In the end, the southpaw strikeout artist Sale -- who finished in the top five of AL Cy Young Award voting six times, closed the 2010s with seven straight 200-strikeout seasons and reached a high of 308 in 2017 -- just beat out MadBum.

2nd Team -- Madison Bumgarner (SF): One of the most dominant postseason pitchers in MLB history, Bumgarner helped lead the Giants to three World Series titles in the 2010s, and his iconic '14 playoff performance made him an October legend.

2nd Team -- Jacob deGrom (NYM): The Mets' ace finished off the 2010s by winning back-to-back NL Cy Young Awards, something not even franchise icon Tom Seaver did -- only 11 pitchers have. deGrom's 1.70 ERA season in 2018 rivals Doc Gooden's 1985 as one of the best in franchise history and one of the best in recent MLB history.

2nd Team -- David Price (TB, DET, BOS): Bumgarner and deGrom were clear picks for the second-team starting rotation. After that, it was a tight contest for the final three slots. The workhorse Price, who won the 2012 AL Cy Young Award with the Rays and had a brilliant World Series for the Red Sox in '18, gets the first of those three.

2nd Team -- Stephen Strasburg (WSH): Strasburg's decade began with an amazing 14-strikeout MLB debut on June 8, 2010. It ended with an equally amazing 2019 postseason, as he had a 1.98 ERA to help pitch the Nats to their first World Series win.

2nd Team -- Corey Kluber (CLE): Kluber emerged as one of the game's top aces in the mid-2010s, winning two AL Cy Young Awards in a dominant five-year run for the Indians from 2014-18, a span in which he had a 2.85 ERA and five straight 200-strikeout seasons. That elite stretch gives him the last starting pitcher spot, just edging out Cole Hamels, Félix Hernández and Jon Lester.

RELIEF PITCHER

1st Team -- Craig Kimbrel (ATL, SD, BOS, CHC): Kimbrel's accolades since his 2010 debut include seven All-Star teams, the 2011 NL Rookie of the Year Award with the Braves, a 2018 World Series championship with the Red Sox and four times leading his league in saves. Kimbrel's 346 saves are the most this decade, including five 40-save seasons -- Mariano Rivera, Trevor Hoffman and Francisco Rodríguez are the only other closers with that many -- and a 50-save season in 2013.

1st Team -- Aroldis Chapman (CIN, CHC, NYY): Chapman took the other first-team reliever slot by just one vote over Kenley Jansen. The lefty's triple-digit heat is unique, his 2.23 ERA is second lowest -- after Kimbrel (2.08) -- among relievers with 500 innings pitched in the 2010s, and his 273 saves and 883 strikeouts both rank third, behind Kimbrel and Jansen.

2nd Team -- Kenley Jansen (LAD): The Dodgers closer missed out on the first-team team by the slimmest of margins, and you could argue he deserved a spot. Jansen's 903 strikeouts are the most of any reliever of the 2010s, and his 301 saves are second-most.

2nd Team -- Wade Davis (TB, KC, CHC, COL): With Kimbrel, Chapman and Jansen far and away the leading vote-getters among relievers, the final second-team spot was a single-vote race between Davis and David Robertson. Davis gets the spot thanks to his dominant peak with the Royals and Cubs in the middle of the decade, which included a 0.94 ERA season and scoreless playoffs for the World Series champion Royals in 2015.

David Adler is a reporter for MLB.com based in New York. Follow him on Twitter at @_dadler.