Categorical leaders for the aughts, plus my All-Decade Team
The team of the aughts will be decided this postseason. The Yankees have the most wins this decade and the most World Series appearances, but the Red Sox have the most world championships and are looking for a third when no one else has two. The Cardinals could get into the mix with their second world championship this decade.
We need not wait, however, to determine the players of the decade. When it comes to individual categories, the decade unmistakably belongs to stars such as
Wait. Livan Hernandez? David Weathers? I'll explain below in a rundown of the major category leaders for the decade. (All statistics through Sunday).
Almost every category has long been decided, but there is a Batting Champion of the Decade race that is a real beauty: Suzuki and Pujols battling to the last day of the season. (I'm sure they can't sleep well at night with so much pressure.) The race for the Player of the Decade is another gem, though my choice is a guy who spotted the field an entire season head start while he was playing in Peoria when the decade began. And read on to find my All-Star Team of the Decade.
Little surprise here. Suzuki holds a comfortable lead, though 81 percent of his hits have been singles. That makes
Fun fact: six of the top 17 played mostly at shortstop (Jeter, Tejada,
Talk about your great batting races. Suzuki trails by only .001, or the equivalent of six hits over these 10 years. Fun fact: Nineteen hitters batted .300 for the decade, including
Rodriguez's total doesn't have authenticity because he spent at least three years juicing. By the way, here are the numbers of players in each of the past four decades who hit 300 homers, starting with the 1970s: 0, 2, 11, 12.
1. Rodriguez (1,227)
Again, throw aside Rodriguez, and give the unofficial title to Pujols.
1. Rodriguez (1,180)
Hmmm. Think the Yankees have been pretty good at scoring runs this decade? Fun fact:
While Helton's career home/road splits hugely favor hitting at a high altitude, his doubles breakdown isn't nearly as imbalanced as his Triple Crown categories: 272 doubles at home, 234 on the road. Fun fact: Orlando Cabrera, who played for six teams in the decade, ranks fourth, second only to Pujols among right-handed hitters.
1. Rollins (94)
Rollins led the league in triples four times, including in 2007, when he became one of only seven players ever with at least 20 doubles, triples and homers.
Fun fact: Looking for a right-handed hitter? You have to go all the way to
Bonds easily tops the list without playing in either of the past two seasons.
1. Thome (1,425)
With Thome getting few at-bats for the Dodgers, Dunn has a good chance to become the aughts' King of the K's.
Fun fact: Among the 31 players with 900 punchouts, the one with the fewest home runs is
Then again, Pierre has also been caught stealing the most -- by far.
1. Pujols (1.057)
Just as you might expect. Those three are the only ones better than 1.000.
1. Helton (2,764)
This is another one going down to the wire. Abreu, consistent and healthy, put up a stronger decade than you might expect, just not worthy of Cooperstown.
Fun fact: Pettitte threw only 11 complete games in the decade and just three shutouts -- the same output Morris had in 1990 alone.
With a minimum of 1,000 innings, old school guys Martinez,
Fun fact: The worst ERA for the decade with the same innings minimum belongs to
1. Johnson (2,176)
Think how impressive that is for the Big Unit: at ages 36 through 45 he was the best strikeout pitcher of the decade by a wide margin.
Fun fact: Six of the top 11 strikeout pitchers pitched for the Yankees at some point in the decade: Johnson, Vazquez,
1. Hernandez (2,179)
What's the value of an innings eater? Livan Hernandez was basically a .500 pitcher (128-122), never received a vote in Cy Young Award balloting, led the league four times in most hits allowed and twice in earned runs allowed, lost the most games in the aughts, but collected $46 million because he stayed healthy and kept taking the ball.
Fun fact: Of the 15 most durable pitchers, only two remained with one team (Buehrle of the White Sox and
1. Rivera (392)
You were expecting somebody else?
1. Weathers (704)
What a career for Weathers, who turns 40 this month. The guy has been pitching for 19 years and is closing in on 1,000 career games, yet he has never made an All-Star team and spent most of his career neither starting nor finishing games.
Fun fact: Of the 21 players ever to appear in 900 games, Weathers has the fewest combined wins and saves (147).
Hard to believe the 2002 Cy Young Award winner is so far ahead of the rest of the pitchers, and that he hasn't received a single Cy vote in the years since he won it.
Fun fact: Zito's career ERA was 3.04 after the 2002 season. It has gone up every year since, now swollen to 3.83.
If you want to get a little understanding of the Latin American influence upon the game in the aughts, check out this All-Decade Team:
C: Jorge Posada
Player of the Decade: Albert Pujols