As the coronavirus pandemic continues to keep the sports world in a state of slumber, theScore is looking back and remembering greatness from Major League Baseball's recent history. Today, we're breaking down the 10 best seasons from position players during the last decade.
No one hit more home runs during a single season over the last decade than Stanton did in his final year with the Miami Marlins. In fact, only Barry Bonds and Sammy Sosa have slugged more homers in one campaign since 2000. For his performance, Stanton just narrowly earned MVP honors over Joey Votto. In the end, such a power display was impossible to ignore, even in an era of juiced balls and increased home run frequency.
Donaldson was the heart and soul of a Toronto Blue Jays team that pummelled opponents on its way to winning the American League East and making the playoffs for the first time since 1993. He put up career highs in almost every offensive category and was named the 2015 AL MVP. The third baseman was a true difference-maker with the glove, too, as he accrued the second-highest defensive rating at his position, according to FanGraphs.
Trout is easily the most decorated player of the last decade, but his trio of MVP seasons are arguably not even his best. Of the three, 2019 gets the nod on this list. He may have accrued more WAR in 2016, but that wouldn't have been the case had Trout not suffered an injury last year. As it is, despite appearing in only 134 games, he notched a career high in home runs.
Here's Trout, again. In 2018, the superstar outfielder accrued the third-most WAR of his sensational nine-year career, and only Boston Red Sox outfielder Mookie Betts was better. Trout posted career highs in walk rate, on-base percentage, and wRC+ (190), with all three marks leading the majors.
This is the version of Harper that everyone expected - and perhaps still expects - to see for years to come. He was an impossible out in 2015 and punished pitchers for the slightest mistake. Harper was a unanimous selection for National League MVP, leading the league in home runs and OPS. His 197 wRC+ and .460 OBP are the best by any qualified player over the last 10 years.
Posey's season was simply one for the ages. The catcher earned his first All-Star nod, an NL batting title, a Silver Slugger Award, and NL MVP honors, and he served as a vital member of the 2012 World Series-winning San Francisco Giants. He's one of only two players on this list to win an MVP award and a championship in the same campaign.
The eight-time All-Star accrued his most WAR in just his second full season. Only Betts and Bonds have been worth more wins in a single campaign during the last two decades. Most argue that Trout should've picked up an MVP award here, but voters fell in love with another historic campaign from Miguel Cabrera in 2013.
Cabrera may have actually been less valuable than Trout during the 2012 season, and, by WAR alone, he didn't deserve the AL MVP. However, Cabrera accomplished one of baseball's rarest feats by winning the Triple Crown. He led the junior circuit in home runs, RBIs, and batting average to become the first major leaguer to do so since Carl Yastrzemski in 1967.
Trout's first full season remains legendary. He's topped himself in the power department on several occasions in the years since, but this will possibly go down as the greatest rookie campaign of all time. Trout is the only rookie ever to hit 30 home runs and steal 30 bases - he finished with 49 - in his first year. Plenty have showcased either elite speed or prolific power, but no rookie has displayed both at the level Trout did in 2012.
Betts' ridiculous 2018 campaign made him the 12th player in Red Sox history to be named AL MVP. He led the majors in WAR, slugging percentage, and batting average, and he became only the second player in franchise history to hit at least 30 homers and steal 30 bases in the same season. The five-tool superstar also picked up a Gold Glove, Silver Slugger, and All-Star Game nod. To top it all off, Betts led Boston to its ninth World Series title.