P- Roy Halladay
I nearly chose Johan Santana, but reconsidered after comparing numbers. Halladay had slightly more wins, two more All Star appearances, two 20-win seasons to Santana’s one, and, in the statistic that unexpectedly clinched it, five times as many complete games. Randy Johnson gets third place, mostly for what he did at the beginning of the decade.
C- Ivan Rodriguez
For sheer talent, Joe Mauer wins overwhelmingly. But I can’t justify naming him the best player in a decade he only had five near-full seasons in. Rodriguez gets the nod for his defensive wizardy, offensive clout and what he did for the Florida Marlins in 2003.
1B- Albert Pujols
No contest. The three-time MVP and eight-time All Star may be the decade’s best player. I’d vote him best second baseman if I had to, since he played three innings there in 2008.
2B- Jeff Kent
Were it a five-year contest, the winner would be Chase Utley. Were it a three-year contest, the winner would be Dustin Pedroia. But we’re talking a full decade and for that, future Hall of Fame member Kent is the man.
3B- Alex Rodriguez
In a perfect world, Rodriguez would be the shortstop here. And in a perfect world, he also wouldn’t have done steroids. Faults aside, he still trounces the competition. His 394 home runs are the most over the past nine seasons and he also won three MVP awards in that span.
SS- Derek Jeter
I’d probably give this to Hanley Ramirez if he had a few more seasons under his belt. That guy’s electric. But Jeter might still be most deserving. His credentials include four Gold Gloves and just two seasons without an All Star appearance or a batting average above .300. This says nothing of his class.
LF- Manny Ramirez
True, Manny won’t win any defensive awards. But neither did Barry Bonds this decade. And Manny stayed relevant all 10 years, while Bonds fizzled halfway through.
CF- Andruw Jones
The toughest choice here, especially considering how Jones has looked these past few years. However, prior to 2008, he won the Gold Glove every year of the decade and was, for the most part, a comparable hitter to Carlos Beltran, the next-best center fielder. Jim Edmonds is not far behind either man.
RF- Ichiro Suzuki
On the other hand, this is probably the easiest choice, next to Pujols. Suzuki has won a Gold Glove every year of his career, has hit .350 or better four times and averages 231 hits for 162 games. Count him as one of the few first-ballot Hall of Famers from this generation.
DH- David Ortiz
It’s a shame news emerged last year that Ortiz flunked a drug test in 2003. Otherwise, he’s the kind of guy his position is designed for.
RP- Mariano Rivera
Were we, once again, measuring success over a shorter period of time, Jonathan Papelbon would win. But for the decade, Rivera had an ERA below 2.00 six times, finished in the top five in Cy Young voting three times and, of course, had the most saves.
Manager- Terry Francona
Two World Series titles. For the Red Sox. The last man to do this? Someone named Bill Carrigan. When Babe Ruth played for the team. I rest my case.