When it comes to the outfielders, Barry Bonds pretty much has a lock on No. 1, despite the accusations against him. It's kind of hard to ignore what he did. This was an interesting exercise, because it got REALLY crowded, especially towards the last two or three slots, since I had not one but three outfield positions to choose from. It was like being the bouncer for a very tiny club and having about 20 VIPs rush up to me for a 10-capacity room.
Here are the 10 that I let past the rope:
1. Barry Bonds
When someone hits 40 or more homers five years in a row, wins the National League MVP four out of five years and places second in the fifth, everyone else is running for second place. What else do we have? Wins Above Replacement - WARs no lower than 7.5 between 2000 and '04 - and two seasons of 11.6. How good is 11.6? Let's put this way -it ranks up there with some fellow named Babe Ruth, who had a 12.6 and a 12.1 at a couple of times during his career.
Walked over 200 times in a season? Did it. It got to the ridiculous point where he was actually walked intentionally with the bases loaded. He didn't play the entire decade and even missed most of one season ('05)? Yeah, still No. 1.
Yes, yes, I'm turning a blind eye to accusations towards the first two people on this list. I'm just looking at the numbers here, even though it does make me feel nearly physically ill to rank them this high. For nearly a decade, Ramirez was probably the best right-handed hitter that did not have the last name Pujols.
He hit no fewer than 20 homers between 2000-07, with a high of 45 in '05. During that span, he hit below .300 only twice, and he was darn close at .292 and .298. He was never a REALLY high WAR guy like Bonds, but he did post a great 6.2 in '00 and then 5.8 and 5.1 in '02 and '03.
Impressive: Ten straight seasons of at least 200 hits, including an absolutely astounding 262 in 2004. His first season in the Majors in '01? 242 hits, American League Rookie of the Year AND MVP. It was the biggest, "Hi everyone, I'm here!" season I've ever seen.
Ichiro was in the Top 25 MVP conversation in eight of the nine other years in the decade. He had a 7.5 WAR in '01 and an even better 9.0 in '04. He also won 9 Gold Gloves.
One of the best free-swinging hitters I've ever seen - the man probably would go after a pitch in the opposing dugout. Hemanaged to blend all this into a package of power and speed, sustaining excellence through the 2000-06 seasons and then merely being really good from '07 to '09. He hit no fewer than 25 homers from 2000-08 and had a highwater mark of 44 in '00. Only '09 signaled any real decline, with a more pedestrian total of 15.
Early in the decade, he could fly, stealing 37 and 40 bases respectively in '01 and '02. What makes Guerrero even more remarkable is for someone who seemed so undisciplined at the plate, he never struck out more than 88 times in a season. Some hitters reach that total by the All-Star break. Vlad was in the Top 25 MVP conversation eight times and won the American League MVP in '04. His WAR rankings were very good, with a 6.8 being his best mark.
5. Andruw Jones
Let's forget about the cliff that he fell off in 2008 - from '00-'07, Jones hit no fewer than 26 homers and he crushed 51 of them in '05. He was as complete a package as possible, winning seven Gold Gloves during that span. He also placed second in MVP voting once and in the top 16 four other times. His best WAR was an 8.0 in '00.
6. Sammy Sosa
Yes, another person supposedly enhanced by chemicals - his numbers were awesome though, from 2000-04, where he didn't hit fewer than 35 homers and had a beast of an '01 season where he hit 64 jacks and drove in 160 Runs Batted In - RBIs.
Amazingly, he didn't win the National League MVP in this decade, placing second once, finishing ninth twice and eighth once. Sosa was a four-time All-Star and won a Silver Slugger. His best WAR season was that '01 season, with a 10.1.
I wanted to rank Griffey higher, but most of his truly great seasons were in the 1990s. He only hit 40 homers once from '00-'09 and 30 or more twice in that decade. Junior was hobbled by injuries for four seasons and were that not the case, he would definitely have ranked higher.
He ranked in the top 25 in MVP voting once and was a four-time All-Star. He had only one good WAR in the decade, 5.2 in '00.
People watching Crawford now forget about how truly dynamic he was when he first started playing regularly in 2003. He stole no fewer than 25 bases from '03-'09 and stole as many as 60.
He was also a triples machine during that span, having four seasons of double-digit three-baggers. He was a three-time All-Star and placed 26th in American League MVP voting in '06. His best WAR year was '09 when he had a 4.7.
It got hard to decide here, since it felt like 50 ballplayers were showing me their credentials at once and the stats started to blur. Beltran is here on the strength of his 2004, '06 and '07 seasons, where he, pardon the pun, belted 38, 41 and 33 homers.
He finished fourth in the National League MVP voting in '06 and ranged between ninth and 21st in voting four other times. His best WAR was 8.0 in '06. He won three Gold Gloves.
10. Torii Hunter
This is the point where it got REALLY tough to decide who to let in. Hunter is on here as much for his glove as his bat, winning nine Gold Gloves and being in the Top 25 MVP conversation three times. He hit over 30 homers once and his best WAR was a 5.0 in '09. Here's where if anyone has any suggestions, I am open.
As usual, let us know what you think of the list above. Should someone be higher or lower? Some added or excluded? Comment below!
Check out our previous entries on the Best MLB Players of the 2000's: