Building A Fantasy Baseball All-Star Team Of The 2010s
The suspension of all baseball everywhere this spring has many in our universe looking back wistfully at the past to connect in the present with the game we love.
In this post I continue my trip down memory lane in search for the best fantasy seasons of the past four decades. This task is inspired by the Project G.O.A.T. retro fantasy baseball challenge, which was developed by ESPN's Pierre Becquey.
You can find our previous three teams below.
On to the fantasy all-star team of the 2010s.
C Buster Posey | Age 25 | 2012 Giants
530 AB | .336 AVG | 78 R | 24 HR | 103 RBI | 1 SB
Posey won a National League batting title, MVP award and World Series ring in 2012, when he joined Mike Piazza (1995, 1997) and Joe Mauer (2009) as the only catchers ever to lead their league in OPS+.
1B Miguel Cabrera | Age 27 | 2010 Tigers
548 AB | .328 AVG | 111 R | 38 HR | 126 RBI | 3 SB
Cabrera had a magnificent 2010 season—he led the American League with 126 RBIs and a 178 OPS+ while finishing second in American League MVP balloting—but the best was yet to come, both for Cabrera and the Tigers.
2B Jose Ramirez | Age 25 | 2018 Indians
578 AB | .270 AVG | 110 R | 39 HR | 105 RBI | 34 SB
Ramirez easily established career highs with 39 home runs, 34 stolen bases and 105 RBIs in a breakthrough season that saw him finish third in American League MVP balloting.
On deck: Jose Altuve, 2016 Astros; and Jose Altuve, 2017 Astros
3B Miguel Cabrera | Age 30 | 2013 Tigers
555 AB | .348 AVG | 103 R | 44 HR | 137 RBI | 3 SB
Cabrera shifted to third base for two seasons to accommodate Prince Fielder at first base and Victor Martinez at DH. He won the American League MVP and Triple Crown for the pennant-winning Tigers in 2012, but he was a hair better in 2013 thanks to his league-leading .348 average.
SS Alex Bregman | Age 25 | 2019 Astros
554 AB | .296 AVG | 122 R | 41 HR | 112 RBI | 5 SB
Ordinarily Houston's third baseman, Bregman started 59 games at shortstop in 2019 as he filled in for the injured Carlos Correa. He was up for the task offensively and defensively, finishing second in American League MVP balloting. The Astros’ sign-stealing scheme later cast a new light on this performance, but that doesn’t diminish its value to fantasy owners.
OF Matt Kemp | Age 26 | 2011 Dodgers
602 AB | .324 AVG | 115 R | 39 HR | 126 RBI | 40 SB
Kemp in 2011 turned in the best fantasy season of the 2010s, when compared to the league norms of the time. With 39 home runs, he came tantalizingly close to becoming the fifth 40-40 player in history.
OF Mookie Betts | Age 25 | 2018 Red Sox
520 AB | .346 AVG | 129 R | 32 HR | 80 RBI | 30 SB
Betts’ American League MVP campaign saw him lead the league with a .346 average and 129 runs while going 30-30 and winning a Gold Glove. He capped it with a World Series championship in October.
OF Mike Trout | Age 20 | 2012 Angels
559 AB | .326 AVG | 129 R | 30 HR | 83 RBI | 49 SB
The legend of Mike Trout was born in his American League Rookie of the Year season. He led the league with 49 stolen bases and 129 runs while bashing 30 home runs.
Active Players On Pace To Set Career Milestones
By comparing each player's pace to historical precedent, we get an idea how lost games this season affect their chances.
SP Gerrit Cole | Age 28 | 2019 Astros
212 IP | 20 W | 0 SV | 326 SO | 2.50 ERA | 0.89 WHIP
Cole’s 326 strikeouts were the most since Randy Johnson tallied 334 in 2002. His 300-K campaign was one of just five during the 2010s.
SP Clayton Kershaw | Age 27 | 2015 Dodgers
233 IP | 16 W | 0 SV | 301 SO | 2.13 ERA | 0.88 WHIP
This was Kershaw’s last season of at least 30 starts and at least 200 innings. It’s also his lone 300-strikeout season. One would think that would be worthy of the National League Cy Young Award. Instead, Kershaw finished third behind the Cubs’ Jake Arrieta and Dodgers teammate Zack Greinke. Kershaw won Cy Youngs in 2011, 2013 and 2014.
SP Justin Verlander | Age 36 | 2019 Astros
223 IP | 21 W | 0 SV | 300 SO | 2.58 ERA | 0.80 WHIP
Verlander has more top-five finishes in Cy Young Award voting than all but three pitchers in history—Roger Clemens, Randy Johnson and Greg Maddux. But until winning his second award in 2019, he was probably better known for narrowly missing the award three times. Verlander finished four points behind David Price in 2012, five points behind Rick Porcello in 2016 and 15 points behind Blake Snell in 2018.
SP Chris Sale | Age 28 | 2017 Red Sox
214 IP | 17 W | 0 SV | 308 SO | 2.90 ERA | 0.97 WHIP
Sale’s first season in Boston resulted in a career high 17 wins and 308 strikeouts, which was good for a second place finish in Cy Young Award voting. His 2018 and 2019 seasons with the Red Sox were truncated by injury, and he had Tommy John surgery early in 2020.
SP Corey Kluber | Age 31 | 2017 Indians
204 IP | 18 W | 0 SV | 265 SO | 2.25 ERA | 0.87 WHIP
Kluber won his second American League Cy Young Award in four seasons in 2017, when he led the AL with 18 wins, a 2.25 ERA and 0.87 WHIP.
Fantasy All-Star Team Of The 2010s
Below is an overall all-decade team, using the positions required in the official Project G.O.A.T. challenge. To increase variety, I chose to devote three of nine pitcher spots to relievers, while disallowing multiple seasons from the same player.
An asterisk (*) denotes an MVP or Cy Young Award season.