Over the next week, theScore's MLB editors will roll out a series that assembles the best roster for every franchise during the 2010s.
These rosters include nine position players, five starters, two relievers, and a closer. All WAR statistics in tables are only for the player with that franchise since the 2010 campaign, and only performances since that year were considered when building rosters. Players must have spent a minimum of one full season with their club.
We begin with the American League East.
The Orioles finished last in the AL East five times during the 2010s, but the 2014 edition that won 96 games and the division featured the best roster the franchise has fielded since the late 1990s. A strong homegrown core was the reason for that success. Baltimore hit on first-round picks Machado and Wieters, while savvy trades for Davis and Jones rounded out a lineup that was capable of doing major damage. Not only did Machado and Jones star during the decade, but they were two of the best players in the franchise's long history. Jones ranks 15th in career WAR for Baltimore, while Machado sits 17th despite playing just 860 games.
Most of Baltimore's struggles can be chalked up to one factor - an inability to build a solid rotation. Former top prospects Gausman and Bundy failed to live up the hype, and both of them left the organization in disappointing trades. Overall, Baltimore's pitchers combined to allow more than 800 runs in a season four times during the 2010s - as many times as the other four AL East franchises combined. No team was worse than the 2019 Orioles club that surrendered 981 runs, the most since the franchise moved from St. Louis in 1939. It wasn't all bad, though. Britton saved 47 games and posted a 0.54 ERA in 2016 to finish fourth in Cy Young Award voting. That season, he was famously never used during an extra-innings loss to the Blue Jays in the AL wild-card game.
Perhaps the most incredible aspect of Boston's run over the last decade was the organization's ability to produce homegrown position players. Pedroia, Devers, Bogaerts, Betts, and Ellsbury all came up with the Red Sox and turned into All-Stars, with Betts and Pedroia each winning AL MVP honors. Meanwhile, Ortiz put together some of his finest seasons before retiring at the age of 40. The legendary DH averaged 35 homers, 38 doubles, 110 RBIs and a .942 OPS over the last four years of his career. Big Papi's heroics helped lead the Red Sox to a championship in 2013 - their first of two in the decade - as he posted a 1.948 OPS against St. Louis and was named World Series MVP.
The Red Sox haven't enjoyed the same level of success when it comes to producing pitching. In fact, only three homegrown pitchers (Lester, Buchholz, Felix Doubront) made at least 29 starts for the team during the 2010s. However, Boston had a number of elite arms take the mound. Sale leads this all-decade roster in WAR despite throwing only 519 2/3 innings, but he somewhat surprisingly wasn't the only pitcher to win a Cy Young for the franchise. Porcello was a dependable innings-eater, but no one saw his 2016 season coming. The right-hander, who'd never finished in the top 10 in Cy Young voting, became the first Red Sox winner since Pedro Martinez.
For the first time since the early 1900s, the Yankees went an entire decade without playing in a World Series. In fact, they haven't featured in a Fall Classic since winning it all in 2009. There's been a major transition in the Bronx since George Steinbrenner's death in 2010. The old guard of Deter Jeter, A-Rod, Cano, and Teixeira eventually gave way to a younger core, and the Yankees even went through a quick rebuild after slumping to fourth in the division for the first time since 1992. Perhaps the most fascinating aspect of the past decade in New York - other than A-Rod's resurrection - was Brett Gardner's ability to carve out a significant and consistent role on a team of stars. The blue-collar outfielder played 547 more games for the franchise than any other player did in the 2010s, and he hit the second-most home runs. Not bad for a 109th overall pick.
The Yankees' two highest-paid pitchers of the decade proved to be money well spent. While Sabathia technically signed ahead of the 2009 season, the bulk of his production came in the 2010s. No pitcher threw more innings, struck out more batters, won more games, or produced more WAR in pinstripes during that time. Tanaka has been up and down throughout his six-year tenure in the Bronx, but he's tossed more than 1,000 innings and owns a brilliant 1.76 ERA in eight postseason appearances. Meanwhile, the bullpen featured three of the game's elite relievers, including the final four seasons of Rivera's Hall of Fame career.
Considering the franchise loathes spending money, it's no surprise that Tampa Bay's all-decade roster is underwhelming. And while the organization has earned a reputation for developing elite pitching, churning out homegrown position players has been a struggle. On this all-decade roster, only Longoria - the greatest player in franchise history - and Kiermaier were drafted by the Rays. Overwhelming roster turnover has also been a calling card for the franchise, which often parts ways with players before they get too expensive. During the 2010s, 14 players appeared in at least 50 games at first base, 20 players caught at least 20 contests, and seven players manned shortstop at least 200 times.
No team develops starting pitching quite like the Rays. Price and Snell each won an AL Cy Young Award in the 2010s, making Tampa Bay the only franchise with multiple homegrown winners during that time. What's arguably just as impressive is that all five starters who cracked this all-decade team were drafted and brought up through the organization. Part of that speaks to the Rays' player development, although it also shows the front office won't spend big on free-agent starters.
The Blue Jays' all-decade roster is comprised almost exclusively of players from the 2015 and 2016 teams that made consecutive trips to the ALCS. Donaldson, Encarnacion, and Bautista gave Toronto one of the best trios of any team in the decade, as those stars combined for a ridiculous 221 home runs in 2015 and '16. With apologies to Roberto Alomar, the 2010s featured Toronto's best-ever position player in Bautista, who went from journeyman to six-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger while finishing top six in AL MVP voting three times. The decade also featured Donaldson's incredible 2015 season, in which he became just the second Blue Jay to be named MVP.
Toronto's rotation is made up of solid arms, though the franchise lacked a true ace for most of the decade. The organization hasn't had a pitcher win the Cy Young Award since Roy Halladay did so in 2003, and the club didn't have a single pitcher finish in the top five in voting in the 2010s outside of David Price, who only tossed half a season for the club in 2015. There was plenty of promise, however. Highly touted prospect Aaron Sanchez could never stay healthy, Ricky Romero fell apart after his 2011 All-Star season, and Josh Johnson managed just 16 starts following a blockbuster trade from the Marlins. The trade for Dickey was highly scrutinized, as the Jays gave up Noah Syndergaard and Travis d'Arnaud, but the knuckleballer did provide Toronto with value. Over four seasons, Dickey posted a 4.05 ERA while throwing more than 800 innings.