Baseball is America’s Favorite Pastime, so it feels natural that we go back in time and pay respect to some of the greatest players the game has ever seen. In a new series, we are identifying the best players from each of the last five decades. As we enter the 21st century, let’s look at the 2000’s all MLB team.
Joe Mauer – Minnesota Twins
I have Mauer over Jorge Posada here because Mauer was just a different kind of player. He was the backbone of the Minnesota Twins and was a rare form of a catcher. Mauer won the 2009 AL MVP. He had a higher WAR in less games played as he didn’t debut until the 2004 season and was more valuable than Posada or Ivan Rodriguez during the decade. Mauer led the league in batting average three times in the decade while also making three All-Star games and winning three Silver Slugger awards.
Albert Pujols – St. Louis Cardinals
For kids who grew up in the 2010s, they will never know the sheer dominance or power of The Machine. Albert Pujols was the most fun power hitter of his time, and he was dominant in the 2000s. He broke onto the scene in 2001, winning the Rookie of the Year. Pujols won three MVP awards in this decade, went to eight All-Star games, won five Silver Slugger awards and a Gold Glove. The future first ballot Hall-of-Famer also led the Cards to a 2006 World Series victory.
Chase Utley – Philadelphia Phillies
Chase Utley was a total star in the 2000s for the Phillies, helping them win a World Series in 2008. In the back end of the decade, he was a force to be reckoned with, heading to four-straight All-Star games, and winning four-straight Silver Slugger awards. He and shortstop Jimmy Rollins formed a lethal duo up the middle.
Alex Rodriguez – Seattle Mariners, Texas Rangers, New York Yankees
Here is our first controversial player on the list. A-Rod is a proven steroid user, but his career before the juice is too good to deny him of this honor. Rodriguez won just a lone World Series, and it came in 2009. He won three MVP awards, went to every All-Star game but one, while belting 435 home runs during the decade.
Derek Jeter – New York Yankees
Since his retirement, there has been plenty of talk about Jeter being overrated, which seems ridiculous as it certainly didn’t feel like that when you had to play him in the 2000s. The Hall-of-Famer was a perennial All-Star shortstop who made eight trips to the game in this decade, won four-straight Silver Slugger awards, and was a three-time Gold Glove winner. He compiled 1,940 hits in this decade alone in his 1,500 games played.
Barry Bonds – San Francisco Giants
This is the second All-Decade team that Bonds appears on. He was still a dominant force in this era appearing in six All-Star games. He won FOUR-STRAIGHT MVP awards, broke the All-Time Home Run record in 2007, won five Silver Slugger awards, and was all around the scariest hitter you ever had to face with the game on the line. He was intentionally walked an incredible 120 times in 2004. Manny Ramirez is certainly an honorable mention here.
Carlos Beltran – Kansas City Royals, Houston Astros, New York Mets
Beltran was a five-tool center fielder during the 2000s which was spent with three different teams. He went to five All-Star games in this decade, won three Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger award. He was a staple in the middle of whichever team lineup that he played in. Beltran could do it all.
Ichiro Suzuki – Seattle Mariners
In 2001, Ichiro Suzuki joined Fred Lynn in becoming the only MLB players to win Rookie of the Year and the MVP in the same season. He broke onto the scene from Japan and became one of the most popular players in the game with his new “slap-hitting” approach. He went to the All-Star game in every single year he played in this decade, won a gold glove every single year and led the league in hits six times. His lowest hit total in any season in the decade was 206 in 2005.
David Ortiz – Boston Red Sox, Minnesota Twins
Even though we haven’t been listing other designated hitters it feels like we can’t pass up Ortiz. His clutch performance throughout the decade cannot be overstated when you think about baseball in the 2000s. The Hall-of-Famer made five All-Star games, won four consecutive Silver Slugger awards, and was voted top-five for league MVP five years in a row this decade.
Randy Johnson – Arizona Diamondbacks, New York Yankees, San Francisco Giants
Johnson was dominant in nearly every decade of his career, but his start to the early 2000s can’t be overlooked. The Hall-of-Famer won four-straight Cy Young awards (the first in this bunch was in 1999) but carried his dominance into the new century in a huge way. He took home the 2001 World Series MVP award as the Diamondbacks defeated the Yankees. Johnson was a total inning-eater and a strikeout king as he led the league in K’s four times in the decade.
Mariano Rivera – New York Yankees
In my book, he is the greatest closer in Major League Baseball history. His cutter, which would split bats, led him to eight All-Star games, two World Series wins, and 397 saves which is the most by a large margin for the decade. The 2000s was a true emergence of great closers with Billy Wagner, Jonathan Papelbon, Francisco Rodriguez, Joe Nathan, and Brad Lidge. However, none match the 652 career saves that Rivera compiled over his Hall-of-Fame career.