Are MLB Stars Better Now Than They Were in the 2000s?

If there’s one thing sports fans like to do, it’s compare athletes from different eras. In this case, we’re taking a look at current MLB stars and the top players in the league in the 2000s. Which group is better? The 2010s had one of the best players of all time in Mike Trout. But is he enough to call the current stars better than those of the 2000s?

Bleacher Report compares the 2000s and 2010s

When Bleacher Report looked at the best players from the last two decades, they came to the conclusion that the 2000s had a better group of stars. In fact, they felt the comparison wasn’t even close.

In a series of head-to-head matchups between the lineups, Bleacher Report compared who its writers considered the best player at each position, designated hitter, starting pitcher, and closer. They gave one point to the era that had the better player at each position. The final tally came out to eight points for the 2000s and just three in favor of the 2010s.

The best MLB players from each era

Former New York Yankee Mariano Rivera has a laugh with Gary Sanchez in 2019
Former New York Yankee Mariano Rivera with Gary Sanchez in 2019 | Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Trout may be the best player overall between the two eras. But when you look at the roster for the 2000s, it has some of the most impressive names. Right off the bat, the 2000s can claim the best relief pitcher of all-time in Mariano Rivera — the only unanimous choice for the National Baseball Hall of Fame.

He is joined by Yankees teammate Derek Jeter, one of the most clutch players in baseball history. At first base on the 2000s team, Albert Pujols was an incredible hitter in the prime of his career with the Cardinals.  The 2000s also had the all-time home-run king, Barry Bonds.

Outside of Trout, the 2010s era doesn’t have many all-time greats. Joining Trout in the outfield: Mookie Betts, who is still too early in his career, and Giancarlo Stanton, whose career is hampered by injuries. Outside of Trout, the best players on the 2010s list are probably Betts and Clayton Kershaw. But even Kershaw is usurped by the best starter of the 2000s, Pedro Martinez. He’s considered one of MLB’s best pitchers ever.

Which era has better players?

Bleacher Report’s analysis seems to be spot-on, as the 2000s had a better group of stars than the 2010s. This isn’t meant to take anything away from today’s stars. But when you compare them to a list that includes Rivera, Jeter, Martinez, Bonds, and Alex Rodriguez, it’ll be tough to match up.

The biggest argument you can use against the 2000s roster is one made by baseball purists: the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Of the 11 players on Bleacher Report’s list, at least three are suspected of using PEDs in their careers. But this argument takes a hit considering that Robinson Cano, the second baseman on the 2010s list, was suspended 80 games in 2018 for PED use.

People who vote for the 2000s can also make the case that the hitters in the 2010s have an advantage with the suspected juiced baseballs in recent years helping offensive numbers. The expanded use of advanced stats also gives the current crop of stars advantages over the players who came before them. But in the end, if you compare the best players of the 2000s versus today, the earlier decade is definitively the winner.