All-decade teams: Picking the ultimate roster for each AL Central franchise

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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 continue with the American League Central:


Chicago White Sox

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Pos. Player WAR
C Tyler Flowers 8.5
1B Jose Abreu 17.9
2B Yolmer Sanchez 4.6
3B Yoan Moncada 8.9
SS Alexei Ramirez 16.5
OF Adam Eaton 13.5
OF Alex Rios 8.1
OF Alejandro De Aza 7.7
DH Paul Konerko 5.9

The White Sox are one of only four MLB franchises that failed to make the playoffs this decade, and their roster reflects this in a big way. Abreu, the longest-tenured White Sox player by a wide margin, was the only lock on the position-player side. Shortstop was one of two positions that required a difficult choice, as Ramirez edged out 2019 batting champion Tim Anderson based on tenure. The other tough decision was at DH, where tenure and legacy won out for White Sox icon and 2005 world champion Konerko, who did enough down the stretch of his career to secure the spot over Avisail Garcia. It was slim pickings everywhere else - including at second base, where the recently non-tendered Sanchez topped notable draft bust Gordon Beckham.

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Pos. Player WAR
SP Chris Sale 27.1
SP Jose Quintana 21.1
SP John Danks 9.3
SP Jake Peavy 9.8
SP Mark Buehrle 6.9
RP Nate Jones 4.8
RP Matt Thornton 4.7
CL David Robertson 3.5

Starting pitching was one area in which the White Sox excelled this decade. Sale, of course, became one of the premier pitchers of the era on the South Side, but he and Quintana could never get any help around them before being traded. Peavy, a former Cy Young winner, enjoyed a fine run with the White Sox during the middle of his career. Buehrle - another White Sox World Series hero from the previous decade - only spent two years with the team in the 2010s, but he beat out Gavin Floyd (9.4 WAR in parts of four seasons) for the final rotation spot based on superior non-WAR numbers across his shorter time frame. Jones and Thornton were the only White Sox relievers worth more than four wins during the past 10 years.

Cleveland Indians

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Pos. Player WAR
C Yan Gomes 13.6
1B Carlos Santana 19.1
2B Jason Kipnis 22.8
3B Jose Ramirez 24.3
SS Francisco Lindor 27.2
OF Michael Brantley 20.2
OF Lonnie Chisenhall 8.0
OF Shin-Soo Choo 10.8
DH Asdrubal Cabrera 9.4

The Indians have been the class of the division for the decade's latter half, and their all-decade team is quite strong as a result. Santana was Cleveland's WAR leader at both catcher - where he played over 300 games - and first base. But with virtually no competition at first (by FanGraphs' WAR, Russell Branyan was the next-closest Indians first baseman with 1.4 in 52 games) putting him there was an easy call. Cabrera, who had a solid run with Cleveland in the early part of the decade, slides to DH due to a crowded and talented infield. Though not a traditional DH, Cabrera's a better choice for this spot than full-time DHs Travis Hafner (3.7 WAR in three partial, injury-plagued years) and Edwin Encarnacion, who barely cracked the three-win mark in just two years with the club.

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Pos. Player WAR
SP Corey Kluber 34.5
SP Carlos Carrasco 23.4
SP Trevor Bauer 16.5
SP Justin Masterson 14.5
SP Danny Salazar 10.3
RP Andrew Miller 3.7
RP Mike Clevinger 10.9
CL Cody Allen 7.5

Recently traded two-time Cy Young winner Kluber leads the Indians' all-decade staff, and multiple All-Star arms follow him. A surprise addition to the rotation is Masterson, a one-time All-Star and the ace of Cleveland's weaker teams from 2010 to 2014. His inclusion as a starter pushes the emerging Clevinger into the bullpen, a move that speaks to the strength of the Indians' rotations during this decade. Joining Clevinger in the 'pen are Miller, who morphed into a nearly unhittable "super-reliever" during Cleveland's run to the World Series in 2016, and former lights-out closer Allen.

Detroit Tigers

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Pos. Player WAR
C Alex Avila 11.0
1B Prince Fielder 7.7
2B Ian Kinsler 16.4
3B Miguel Cabrera 43.4
SS Jhonny Peralta 11.0
OF J.D. Martinez 12.8
OF Austin Jackson 16.6
OF Nicholas Castellanos 8.4
DH Victor Martinez 3.5

The majority of this Tigers team unsurprisingly consists of stars from the first half of the decade, when Detroit was a postseason regular. Cabrera - who starred at both first and third base - gets the hot corner here by virtue of winning two MVPs and a triple crown while playing the position. That also makes room for Fielder, who gave the Tigers two solid seasons at first base before they dealt him for all-decade second baseman Kinsler. Another tough choice was Peralta at shortstop over defensive star Jose Iglesias, who was one of the few reliable members of the Tigers' mediocre late-decade clubs.

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Pos. Player WAR
SP Justin Verlander 39.7
SP Max Scherzer 22.4
SP Anibal Sanchez 13.7
SP Rick Porcello 13.1
SP Doug Fister 9.7
RP Joaquin Benoit 2.7
RP Al Alburquerque 2.4
CL Jose Valverde 1.9

Detroit's position players might have made for some tough choices, but this rotation is as easy as it gets. It's led by Verlander - who won both MVP and a Cy Young with the Tigers and will almost certainly wear their hat into the Hall of Fame - and another Cy Young winner likely headed to Cooperstown in Scherzer. The entire quintet pitched Detroit to its most recent pennant in 2012 and another ALCS appearance in 2013. In true Tigers fashion, the bullpen here is weak and contains some of the only semi-reliable arms from those playoff teams; Valverde earned closing honors based on saves, beating out recent redemption project Shane Greene.

Kansas City Royals

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Pos. Player WAR
C Salvador Perez 10.0
1B Eric Hosmer 10.4
2B Whit Merrifield 12.3
3B Mike Moustakas 12.6
SS Alcides Escobar 10.9
OF Alex Gordon 26.8
OF Lorenzo Cain 20.4
OF Jarrod Dyson 10.3
DH Billy Butler 6.5

With the exception of Merrifield, every player on this Royals team helped the club win one or both of the 2014 AL pennant and 2015 World Series. That Merrifield cracked this roster without winning either is a testament to his great play on some truly bad teams. The only real question mark from a position-player standpoint was the third outfield spot: The speedy Dyson - one of just four Royals outfielders, including Merrifield, with at least 10 WAR this decade - won out over Jorge Soler and Melky Cabrera.

Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports / Anthony Gruppuso-USA TODAY Sports
Pos. Player WAR
SP Danny Duffy 13.2
SP James Shields 7.5
SP Yordano Ventura 6.8
SP Bruce Chen 5.5
SP Luke Hochevar 5.3
RP Kelvin Herrera 7.1
RP Wade Davis 6.8
CL Greg Holland 10.2

Herrera, Davis, and Holland are reunited in the Royals' all-decade bullpen. This three-headed monster was a force for Kansas City's mid-decade playoff teams, essentially locking down most games it entered after the sixth inning. The rotation isn't the division's strongest, but it still contains champions and important postseason players - including Ventura, who was on track for stardom before his tragic death in 2017. Also of note is former first overall pick Hochevar, who didn't reach his potential as a starter but morphed into a vital cog of the Royals' championship bullpen late in his career.

Minnesota Twins

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Pos. Player WAR
C Joe Mauer 24.0
1B Justin Morneau 5.3
2B Brian Dozier 22.5
3B Eduardo Escobar 8.5
SS Jorge Polanco 7.2
OF Eddie Rosario 10.5
OF Max Kepler 9.8
OF Byron Buxton 7.4
DH Miguel Sano 8.5

Mauer played far more games at first base during this decade, but he still faced relatively little competition at catcher, with only Mitch Garver, across a much smaller sample size, coming close. Add in the legacy factor - Mauer is one of the greatest catchers in history - and putting him behind the plate is a no-brainer. That also opens first base for Morneau, another easy call due to a lack of competition at his position (save for Mauer). Morneau won the AL MVP in 2006 and suffered a career-altering concussion during the 2010 season, but he still gave the Twins a couple of solid years at the start of this decade. Escobar led the Twins in WAR as both a shortstop and third baseman in this decade and gets the call at third to make room for Polanco. Sano's prowess as a slugger and lack of a natural home in the field make him a perfect fit at DH.

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Pos. Player WAR
SP Kyle Gibson 12.9
SP Jose Berrios 9.9
SP Phil Hughes 7.8
SP Ervin Santana 7.3
SP Jake Odorizzi 6.9
RP Ryan Pressly 2.7
RP Taylor Rogers 5.0
CL Glen Perkins 6.4

The post-Johan Santana era hasn't been kind to Twins starters. Hughes gave Minnesota one fantastic campaign in 2014, setting the all-time single-season record for strikeout-to-walk ratio. Ervin Santana's Twins tenure was disappointing after he was suspended for steroid use mere months after signing a $54-million deal in 2015, but he did rebound to make an All-Star team later. Choosing Odorizzi and his recent two-year run over Francisco Liriano - who posted similar numbers across a similar time frame - was the hardest call. Perkins, one of two Minnesota natives on the Twins' all-decade squad, was quietly one of baseball's best relievers during the middle of the decade before injuries took their toll.

All-decade teams: Picking the ultimate roster for each AL Central franchise
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