Nelson Cruz
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Top-5 power hitters of the 2010’s

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We have already discussed the five best defensive players and the five best base runners of the past decade. Now it’s time for us to jump into the top-five power hitters of the 2010’s.

5. 1B/3B/DH Miguel Cabrera, Tigers

Cabrera started off this decade about as well as anyone could have possibly imagined. He finished second in AL MVP Award balloting in 2010 and fifth in ’11 before taking home the hardware in 2012. He won another MVP Award in 2013 as he won the Triple Crown, becoming the first player to do that since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967. Due to age and injuries, Cabrera waned as the decade went on. Despite that, Cabrera still ranks among the best power hitters of the past 10 years. Since 2010, Cabrera mashed 268 home runs, the eighth-most in that span of time. He registered a .544 slugging percentage, the fifth-highest mark among players with at least 3,000 plate appearances between 2010-19. If Cabrera can stay healthy, he has a chance to reach 500 career home runs in 2020, adding another incredible achievement to a Hall of Fame resume.

4. Mike Trout, Angels

Trout makes another top-five list. Shocker. Trout, who does everything well, sent 285 baseballs over fences since 2010, tied with José Bautista for the fifth-highest total. He’s only five behind teammate and future first-ballot Hall of Famer Albert Pujols, and Trout didn’t even play in 2010 and hardly played in ’11. Since 2010, Trout’s .581 slugging percentage is tops among players with 3,000 PA in that time span. His .276 isolated power (slugging percentage minus batting average) is second-best behind Giancarlo Stanton (.279).

3. OF Giancarlo Stanton, Marlins/Yankees

Oh, what could have been. Stanton missed considerable time throughout the last decade due to injury, playing in 1,162 of a possible 1,620 games. Nevertheless, Stanton still ripped 308 homers, the third-highest total of the past decade. Though he only once crossed the 40-homer threshold, he made that one time count, mashing 59 taters in 2017 with the Marlins. It’s by far the highest single-season total of the 2010’s, five ahead of the 54 Bautista hit in 2010. Stanton also ranked third with a .547 slugging percentage and first with a .279 ISO. Stanton recently turned 30 years old, so he still has some time to crush some more homers. The 500 home run club is within reach if he is able to stay somewhat healthy.

2. 3B/DH Edwin Encarnación, Blue Jays/Indians/Mariners/Yankees

Encarnación has hit 30 or more home runs in eight consecutive seasons dating back to 2012. In baseball history, only 35 other players have accomplished that feat. In the 2010-19 era, the only other players even close are Trout and Nelson Cruz at six consecutive seasons. By that measure alone, we could put Encarnación first on this list. He is also one of 12 players with two 40-homer seasons in the past decade. His .255 ISO is fifth-best as well. His 335 home runs, however, rank second only behind Cruz. That’s a lot of times he “walked the parrot.”

1. DH Nelson Cruz, Rangers/Orioles/Mariners/Twins

As mentioned, Cruz registered not one, not two, but four 40-homer seasons this past decade, easily the most of any player. He was actually one off from a fifth, finishing with 39 dingers in 2017. Despite spending time with so many teams, Cruz has consistently been baseball’s best power hitter. He just reached 400 career homers, 346 of which were hit since 2010, the most in that span of time. His .256 ISO since 2010 ranks fourth behind only Stanton, Trout, and David Ortiz. As we have seen a softening on DHs when it comes to the Hall of Fame, Cruz could merit consideration when his career is over.

Honorable mention: José Bautista, Albert Pujols, David Ortiz, Jay Bruce, Chris Davis, Bryce Harper.

Rob Manfred offers little insight, shows contempt for reporters in press conference

Rob Manfred
Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images
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Commissioner Rob Manfred spoke at a press conference, addressing the Astros cheating scandal and other topics on Sunday evening. It did not go well.

To start, the press conference was not broadcast officially on MLB’s own TV channel (it aired the 1988 movie Bull Durham instead), nor could any mention to it or link to the live stream be found anywhere on MLB.com. When the actual questions began, Manfred’s answers were circuitous or simply illogical given other comments he has made in the past. On more than one occasion, he showed contempt for reporters for doing their jobs — and, some might argue, doing his job — holding players and front office personnel accountable.

Last month, Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal broke a story about the Astros’ “dark arts” and “Codebreaker” operation, based on a letter Manfred sent to then-GM Jeff Luhnow. Diamond was among the reporters present for Manfred’s press conference on Sunday. Per The Athletic’s Lindsey Adler, Manfred addressed Diamond, saying, “You know, congratulations. You got a private letter that, you know, I sent to a club official. Nice reporting on your part.” MLB’s response to the depth of the Astros’ cheating ways was lacking and, without Diamond’s reporting, we would have known how deeply lacking that response was. It is understandable that Manfred would be salty about it, since it exposed him as doing his job poorly, but it was an immature, unrestrained response from someone in charge of the entire league.

Onto the actual topic at hand, Manfred said he felt like the punishment doled out to the Astros was enough. Per Chris Cotillo, Manfred said Astros players “have been hurt by this” and will forever be questioned about their achievements in 2017 and ’18. Some players disagree. Former pitcher Phil Hughes even suggested the players have a work stoppage over this issue.

Manfred defended his decision not to vacate the Astros’ championship, saying, “The idea of an asterisk or asking for a piece of metal back seems like a futile act.” The commissioner devaluing the meaning of a championship seems… not great? Counterintuitive, even? The “piece of metal” is literally called the Commissioner’s Trophy. Manfred went on to brag about the league having “the intestinal fortitude to share the results of that investigation, even when those results were not very pretty.” Be careful, don’t hurt yourself patting yourself on the back for doing the bare minimum.

Manfred said there was no evidence found that the Astros used buzzers and added that, since the players were given immunity, he doesn’t think they would continue to hide that when asked about it. He said, “I think in my own mind. It was hard for me to figure out why they would tell us, given that they were immune, why they would be truthful and admit they did the wrong thing and 17, admit they did the wrong thing and 18, and then lie about what was going on in 19.”

The commissioner expects the league to implement “really serious restrictions” on access to in-game video feeds for the 2020 season.

There has been some recent back-and-forth between the Dodgers’ Cody Bellinger and the Astros’ Carlos Correa. Manfred isn’t a fan of the sniping through the media. He said, “I’m sort of a civil discourse person. It must be because I’m old. But, yeah, I think that the back and forth that’s gone on is not healthy.” The reason Bellinger and others are speaking publicly about the issue, attempting to hold the Astros accountable, is because the league did not do a sufficient job doing that itself. Bellinger wouldn’t feel the need to speak up in defense of himself, his teammates, and other players affected by the cheating scheme if he felt like the league had his and his peers’ backs.

Because the players involved in the Astros’ cheating scheme weren’t punished, some — like Larry Bowa — have suggested intentionally throwing baseballs at Astros players to exact justice. Manfred met with managers who were in attendance today to inform them that retaliatory beanballs “will not be tolerated.” He added, “It’s dangerous and it is not helpful to the current situation.” Manfred has done nothing about beanball wars in the past, but it will now give the Astros somewhat of an advantage since pitchers will now be judged closely on any pitch that runs too far inside on Astro hitters.

Manfred also spoke about the ongoing feud with Minor League Baseball and basically reiterated what he and the rest of the league have disingenuously been saying since it was revealed MLB proposed cutting 42 minor league teams. Manfred’s talking point is that MLB is concerned about substandard facilities being used by minor league players, but not all of the 42 teams on the proposed chopping block have anything close to what could reasonably be considered substandard.

Lastly, Manfred was asked about the Orioles and tanking, and more or less danced around the issue by expressing confidence in the club’s ownership. The Orioles have won 47 and 54 games in the past two seasons. Payroll dropped by more than $50 million. The Orioles saw over 250,000 fewer fans in attendance in 2019 than in ’18. The O’s also saw a decline of over 460,000 fans in attendance from 2017 to ’18. But, yeah, it’s going well.

All in all, this press conference could not have gone worse for Manfred. The press found it condescending and the comments he made rang hollow to the players. Manfred seemed on edge and unprepared addressing arguably the biggest controversy baseball has faced since the steroid era. This is a dark time for the sport.