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All-Time Team – Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland Athletics
First Base – Jimmie Foxx
Mark McGwire fans might not agree, but Jimmie Foxx was unquestionably the greatest first baseman in Athletics history. Serving as the team’s regular first baseman from 1928 to 1935, Foxx won two Most Valuable Player Awards and one Triple Crown, helping to lead the A’s to three consecutive pennants and two world championships. After claiming the starting first base job in 1928, Double X averaged 33 home runs and 131 RBIs over the course of the next three seasons, as the A’s won three straight pennants. Foxx then had his two best years for the club in 1932 and 1933, leading the A.L. with 58 homers, 169 runs batted in, 151 runs scored, 438 total bases, and a .749 slugging percentage in the first of those campaigns, while also batting .364. He followed that up by winning the Triple Crown in 1933 with 48 homers, 163 RBIs, and a .356 batting average. Foxx also topped the circuit with 403 total bases and a .703 slugging percentage. He captured league MVP honors both times. Foxx remained in Philadelphia two more years, before being dealt to the Boston Red Sox. He averaged 38 home runs, 132 runs batted in, and 120 runs scored in his eight years as the A’s starting first baseman, while also batting well over .300 all but once.
Second Base – Eddie Collins
Just as Foxx was the clear-cut choice at first base, Eddie Collins was the obvious pick at second. Although he had many of his finest seasons playing for the White Sox, Collins spent seven full seasons with the A’s, along with parts of six others. During that time, he posted a batting average of .337 and an on-base percentage of .423, stole 373 bases, scored 756 runs, accumulated 1,308 hits, won an MVP Award, and finished third in the voting two other times. Collins batted over .340 and compiled an on-base percentage in excess of .400 in five of his seven full seasons, scored more than 100 runs four times, and stole more than 50 bases five times. He stole a career-high 81 bases for the team in 1910, batted a career-best .365 the following year, and scored a career-high 137 runs in 1912. Collins captured A.L. MVP honors in 1914, when he led the A’s to the pennant by batting .344, compiling a .452 on-base percentage, stealing 58 bases, knocking in 85 runs, and leading the league in runs scored for the third straight time, with a total of 122.
Third Base – Frank Baker
The Athletics have had many fine third basemen through the years. Jimmy Dykes, Sal Bando, Carney Lansford, and Eric Chavez all merited consideration for the starting third base job on our All-Time Team. In the end, though, Frank “Home Run” Baker got the nod for the six exceptional seasons he put together for the team from 1909 to 1914. After compiling an all-time rookie record 19 triples for the A’s in the first of those years, Baker went on to lead the American League in home runs four straight times, from 1911 to 1914. He also topped the circuit twice in runs batted in. Baker had perhaps his finest season in 1912, when he led the league with 10 home runs and 130 runs batted in, scored 116 runs, accumulated 200 hits and 21 triples, stole 40 bases, and batted .347. Baker compiled an overall batting average of .321 over the course of his six years in Philadelphia, knocked in 612 runs, scored 573 others, amassed 88 triples, and stole 172 bases. He earned three top-ten finishes in the league MVP voting.
Shortstop – Bert Campaneris
I could very easily have elected to go with Miguel Tejada here instead. He had much more power than Bert Campaneris, drove in many more runs, and won an MVP Award while playing for Oakland in 2002. However, Tejada left the team after only six full years. Meanwhile, Campaneris remained with the A’s for 13 years, serving as the club’s starting shortstop from the time he first joined them midway through the 1964 campaign. He was an integral part of five division-winning and three straight world championship teams in Oakland, serving as the A’s offensive catalyst. Campaneris led the league in steals in six out of eight seasons at one point, swiping more than 50 bases on seven separate occasions. He also scored more than 80 runs seven times, crossing the plate a career-high 97 times in 1970. Campaneris scored 85 runs and stole a league-leading 52 bases for the 1972 world championship club. He followed that up by scoring 89 runs and swiping 34 bags the next year, before batting .290 and stealing another 34 bases for the 1974 World Series champions. Campaneris earned six All-Star selections during his time in Oakland.
Left Field – Rickey Henderson
Bob Johnson and Joe Rudi both had some fine years for the Athletics in left field. Nevertheless, they were both mere afterthoughts, since Rickey Henderson easily won the starting left field job on our All-Time Team. Although he left the A’s in the middle of his career for 4 ½ seasons, Henderson ended up spending all or part of 14 years in Oakland, hitting a total of 167 home runs, scoring 1,270 runs, accumulating 1,768 hits, stealing 867 bases, drawing 1,227 bases on balls, batting .288, and compiling an on-base percentage of .409. The greatest leadoff hitter in baseball history scored more than 100 runs seven times for the A’s, stole more than 50 bases nine times, batted over .300 five times, and compiled an on-base percentage in excess of .400 on 10 separate occasions. He stole an all-time single-season record 130 bases during his first stint with the team in 1982. After returning to the A’s for a second tour of duty one year earlier, Henderson captured A.L. MVP honors in 1990 by hitting 28 homers, batting .325, and leading the league with 119 runs scored, 65 stolen bases, and a .439 on-base percentage. He placed in the top 10 in the voting three other times while playing for the A’s.
Center Field – Al Simmons
Al Simmons primarily played left field during his nine years in Philadelphia. But he also saw some action in center, and the presence of Henderson in left field on this all-time squad made it necessary for me to move him to the middle of the outfield here as well. Simmons was one of the game’s great hitters during his time with the A’s, driving in well over 100 runs all nine years, surpassing 30 homers three times, and batting over .380 on four separate occasions. He knocked in 129 runs, batted .387, and accumulated a franchise-record 253 hits in 1925. Simmons batted a career-high .392 in 1927, then led the American League with 157 runs batted in two years later, while also posting a batting average of .365. He captured back-to-back batting titles in 1930 and 1931, leading the A.L. with marks of .381 and .390. Simmons also established career highs with 36 home runs, 165 runs batted in, and 152 runs scored in the first of those seasons. He played his last season in Philadelphia in 1932, when he hit 35 homers, knocked in 151 runs, scored 144 others, batted .322, and accumulated a league-leading 216 hits.
Right Field –Reggie Jackson
Although he entered Cooperstown wearing a New York Yankees cap, Reggie Jackson built his reputation in Oakland, having many of his finest seasons for the A’s. After joining the Athletics midway through the 1967 campaign, Jackson spent the next eight years in Oakland, helping the team win five A.L. West titles and three World Series. He had his first big year for the A’s in 1969, hitting 47 homers, driving in 118 runs, batting .275, and leading the league with 123 runs scored and a .608 slugging percentage. Jackson captured league MVP honors four years later, when he batted .293 and led the A.L. with 32 home runs, 117 runs batted in, 99 runs scored, and a .531 slugging percentage. Jackson left the A’s after the 1975 season, but he returned to them in 1987, ending his career where it started. The charismatic slugger hit a total of 269 home runs for the Athletics, knocked in 776 runs, scored 756 others, and led the league twice in both home runs and slugging percentage.
Catcher - Mickey Cochrane
One of the greatest catchers in baseball history, Mickey Cochrane had his best years in Philadelphia, before moving on to Detroit, where he spent his final few seasons. Cochrane held down the starting catching job for the Athletics from 1925 to 1933, batting over .320 in six of those nine seasons, scoring more than 100 runs three times, and compiling an on-base percentage in excess of .400 on six separate occasions. He had three of his best years for the club during its A.L. championship run from 1929 to 1931, scoring more than 100 runs twice, while posting batting averages of .331, .357, and .349. Cochrane had his most productive offensive season in 1932, when he established career highs with 23 home runs, 112 runs batted in, and 118 runs scored, while also batting .293. He spent his last season in Philadelphia the following year, scoring 104 runs and leading the league with a .459 on-base percentage. Take your pick between Wally Schang and Gene Tenace as Cochrane’s capable back-up.
Designated Hitter - Mark McGwire
A number of players came to mind as possible candidates for the DH spot. Bob Johnson, Gus Zernial, Jose Canseco, and Jason Giambi were all leading contenders. However, I ultimately decided to go with Mark McGwire, who hit 363 home runs and drove in 941 runs with the club from 1986 to 1997.
Starting Pitcher – Lefty Grove
The greatest pitcher in franchise history, Lefty Grove compiled a record of 195-79 in nine full seasons with the Athletics. He surpassed 20 victories in each of his last seven years with the club, posting a combined record of 152-41 from 1928 to 1933. Grove led the American League in wins four times, topped the circuit in strikeouts seven straight times, and won five of his record nine ERA titles in an Athletics uniform. He had his greatest season in 1931, when he won A.L. MVP honors by leading the league with a 31-4 record, a 2.06 ERA, 175 strikeouts, 27 complete games, and four shutouts.
Starting Pitcher – Eddie Plank
A consistent winner his entire time in Philadelphia, Eddie Plank posted at least 14 victories for the A’s each year, from 1901 to 1914, surpassing 20 victories on seven separate occasions. The lefthander also compiled an ERA below 2.50 a total of 10 times, while throwing more than 300 innings and completing more than 30 of his starts five times each. Plank won a total of 73 games for the Athletics from 1903 to 1905, before having arguably his best year in 1912, when he finished 26-6, with a 2.22 ERA and 23 complete games. He left Philadelphia after the 1914 campaign, having compiled an overall record of 284-162 with the club, along with an ERA of 2.39.
Starting Pitcher – Rube Waddell
Rube Waddell spent only six years in Philadelphia. Nevertheless, he established himself as one of the most dominant pitchers in franchise history during that time. The flame-throwing left-hander compiled an overall record of 131-82 with the club, winning more than 20 games four straight times and leading the American League in strikeouts all six years. After striking out 302 batters the previous year, Waddell fanned 349 men in 1904, while also winning 25 games, compiling a 1.62 ERA, and amassing 39 complete games and 383 innings pitched. He followed that up by leading the American League with 27 victories in 1905, a year in which he also topped the circuit with a 1.48 ERA and 287 strikeouts.
Starting Pitcher – Catfish Hunter
Although he posted a winning record in only five of his 10 seasons with the A’s, Catfish Hunter managed to compile an overall mark of 161-113 for the club from 1965 to 1974. Hunter won more than 20 games in each of his last four years in Oakland, posting an aggregate mark during that period of 88-35. He had his best year in 1974, when he captured A.L. Cy Young honors by leading the league with 25 victories and a 2.49 ERA, while also completing 23 games, tossing six shutouts, and throwing 318 innings.
Starting Pitcher – Chief Bender
Chief Bender edged out Bobby Shantz, Vida Blue, and Dave Stewart for the final spot in the starting rotation. Bender compiled a record of 193-102 for the Athletics from 1903 to 1914, during which time he also posted an exceptional 2.32 ERA. The right-hander surpassed 20 victories twice, also winning at least 17 games another five times. Bender compiled an ERA below 2.00 each year from 1908 to 1910, having arguably his best season in the last of those campaigns, when he went 23-5, with a 1.58 ERA and 25 complete games.
Bullpen – Dennis Eckersley/Rollie Fingers
The Athletics have the luxury of having two exceptional relievers in their bullpen, equally capable of closing out ballgames. After four rather nondescript seasons, Rollie Fingers served as the team’s primary closer from 1972 to 1976, during which time he saved a total of 105 games. He had arguably his finest year for the team in 1973, when he posted 22 saves, compiled an ERA of 1.92, and struck out 110 batters in 127 innings of work, while allowing the opposition only 107 hits. Meanwhile, Eckersley assumed the role of closer for the Athletics in 1987, maintaining that position until 1995. During that time, he saved a total of 320 games for the A’s, compiling more than 40 saves on four separate occasions and leading the league in that department twice. Eckersley saved 48 games in 1990, when he also compiled a miniscule 0.61 ERA. He won the Cy Young Award two years later, when he finished the season with a record of 7-1, a league-leading 51 saves, and a 1.91 ERA.
Manager – Connie Mack
Dick Williams and Tony Larussa each did an outstanding job of managing the Athletics while in Oakland. However, neither man also owned the team, making each of their situations far more tenuous than that of Connie Mack, who both owned and managed the A’s from 1901 to 1950. Mack put together two dynasties in Philadelphia, before disassembling each of them due to financial concerns. As a result, his overall record with the A’s was a decidedly mediocre 3,582-3,814, for an overall winning percentage of just .484. Still, Mack led his team to nine pennants and five World Series titles. Unfortunately, the A’s also finished last in the American League 17 times under him.
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