Categorical leaders for the aughts, plus my All-Decade Team
There is a Batting Champion of the Decade race that is a real beauty
The All-Decade shows Latin America's amazing influence on the game
Even though he started a year late, my Player of the Decade is Albert Pujols
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 Ichiro Suzuki, Albert Pujols, Mariano Rivera, Livan Hernandez and David Weathers.
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 Mark Grace, the hits champion of the 1990s, look like Babe Ruth; 71 percent of Grace's hits that decade were singles.
1. Albert Pujols (.334)
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 Moises Alou, Jose Vidro and Sean Casey.
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.
Fun fact: Vladimir Guerrero (313) and Andruw Jones (308), who were compared to one another way back in the minors, hit almost exactly the same number of homers in almost exactly the same number of games (Guerrero has nine more games).
RUNS BATTED IN
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: Bobby Abreu checks in at No. 5, giving current or former Yankees four of the top five spots.
1. Todd Helton (428)
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.
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 Michael Young at No. 20 on this list.
BASES ON BALLS
1. Barry Bonds (1,128)
Bonds easily tops the list without playing in either of the past two seasons.
Fun fact: Pat Burrell has more walks than Ramirez, Pujols or Ortiz.
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 Brad Wilkerson. Who? Precisely.
1. Juan Pierre (455)
Then again, Pierre has also been caught stealing the most -- by far.
Fun fact: Corey Patterson, among the worst hitting outfielders ever, shows up at No. 22. Teams keep giving playing opportunities to Patterson as if he might hit someday. Keep this in mind: among outfielders with at least 1,000 big leagues games all time, Patterson is worse at getting on base than all of them except John Shelby and Tony Armas.
1. Pujols (1.057)
Just as you might expect. Those three are the only ones better than 1.000.
Fun fact: Luis Gonzalez (No. 23) checks in ahead of Carlos Beltran (28).
TIMES ON BASE
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: Jason Kendall has been on base more times this decade than Rollins.
MLB Truth & Rumors