Tuesday, March 3, 2020

All-Time Teams: Athletics

Today's team has won nine World Series and played in three cities. Here's the All-Time roster for the Philadelphia/Kansas City/Oakland Athletics:

Manager: Connie Mack
Home: Oakland Coliseum

Leading off for the Athletics.. the Left Fielder.. Rickey Henderson

Rickey Henderson stole more bases and scored more runs than anyone in history. Rickey hit more leadoff home runs than anyone in history. Rickey was a ten-time All-Star, a three-time Silver Slugger winner, a two-time World Series champion, and the 1990 AL MVP. Rickey led the league in stolen bases twelve times, collected over 3,000 hits, and accumulated more WAR than any position player in Athletics history. Rickey played for nine teams in his 25-year career including 14 seasons with the A's. Rickey was a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2009.

Batting second for Oakland.. the Second Baseman.. Eddie Collins  

Eddie Collins played more games with the White Sox (in one fewer season), however the Pale Hose had another Hall of Famer at second base. Collins won three World Series and an MVP award for the Philadelphia A's from 1910-14, before he was sold to the Sox for $50,000. He is third in Athletics history in career batting average and stolen bases, tied for third in on-base %, and third among A's position players in WAR. The all-time leader in hits and stolen bases among second basemen, Eddie batted .333 over his 25-year Hall of Famer career - yet he never won a batting title.

Batting third.. the Center Fielder.. Al Simmons

Al Simmons is the Athletics' all-time leader in batting average, total bases, and RBI. He drove in 100+ runs in each of his first eleven seasons, including a league-leading 157 for the 1929 World Series Champion A's. Simmons won back-to-back batting titles in the next two seasons, and hit an astounding .356 over his twelve years with the Athletics. Like Collins, he was sold to the White Sox (for $100,000) in the prime of his Hall of Fame career. "Bucketfoot Al" ranks second in franchise history in hits, slugging percentage, and OPS. He was primarily a left fielder, but played more than a third of his career in center.

Batting fourth.. the First Baseman.. Jimmie Foxx

Jimmie Foxx made his debut for Philadelphia as a 17 year-old catcher in 1925. In 1929 he became the A's full-time first baseman, starting a streak of twelve seasons with 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI. "Double X" led the majors in home runs four times, including 58 in 1932. Foxx won three AL MVP awards, two batting titles, two World Series, and a Triple Crown in 1933. He ranks 19th all-time in home runs with 534, and his 302 blasts for the A's is second in team history to the next player in this lineup. Foxx was also sold in his prime - to the Red Sox for $150,000 after the 1935 season.

Batting fifth.. the Designated Hitter.. Mark McGwire

Mark McGwire had a record-setting rookie season in 1987, leading the majors with 49 home runs and a .618 slugging percentage. "Big Mac" was a unanimous choice for AL Rookie of the Year that season, and earned the first of twelve All-Star nods. McGwire and his fellow "Bash Brothers" led Oakland to three consecutive pennants and a World Series title in 1989. His 363 home runs as an Athletic are first in franchise history, and his 583 career long balls are 11th all-time. The A's traded McGwire to St. Louis for prospects during a 58-homer campaign in 1997; he hit a record-shattering 70 home runs for the Cardinals in the following season.

Batting sixth.. the Right Fielder.. Reggie Jackson

Reggie Jackson was the second pick in the second-ever amateur draft; the Kansas City A's selected him in 1966. He made his big league debut a year later, and became a slugging superstar once the team moved to Oakland. Reggie hit 37 home runs before the All-Star break in 1969, finishing with 47 that year. He was named AL MVP in 1973, named an All-Star fourteen times, and named "Mr. October" after his legendary performance in the 1977 World Series. Jackson won five championships in his Hall of Fame career - three in Oakland and two with the Yankees. He returned to the A's for his final season in 1987.

Batting seventh.. the Catcher.. Mickey Cochrane

Mickey Cochrane has the highest career batting average of any catcher in history. The Hall of Famer slashed .321/.412/.490 over nine seasons with the Athletics, earning American League MVP honors in 1928. Cochrane led the majors with a .459 on-base percentage in 1933, then was sold to the Tigers for $100,000 the following winter. He won a second MVP award in 1934, his first season with Detroit. After winning back-to-back World Series with the Athletics, Cochrane won a third title as player-manager of the Tigers in 1935.

Batting eighth.. the Third Baseman.. Frank Baker

In just six full seasons for the Athletics, "Home Run" Baker led the American League in round-trippers four times. The Hall of Famer batted well above .300 in every season from 1911-1914, collected 300+ total bases twice, and finished third in AL MVP voting in 1914. Baker batted .363 with 18 RBI in 25 World Series games for the Athletics and Yankees - who bought his rights in 1916 after he sat out the prior season. He ranks fourth in A's history with a 152 OPS+ and his 88 triples are third among all Athletics.

Batting ninth.. the Shortstop.. Bert Campaneris

Bert Campaneris is the Athletics' all-time leader in games played, hits, and defensive WAR - though he never won a Gold Glove. The six-time All-Star ranks 14th all-time with 649 stolen bases, and his his 566 steals for the Kansas City/Oakland A's ranks second in team annals. "Campy" led the league in stolen bases six times, paced the AL with 12 triples in 1965, and collected a league-leading 177 hits in 1968. He was the A's leadoff hitter for back-to-back-to-back World Series titles in 1972, 1973, and 1974.

The Starting Pitcher for the Athletics.. Lefty Grove

Robert Moses Grove led the AL in strikeouts each of his first seven seasons. In nine years with the Athletics "Lefty" won 195 games, two World Series, and the 1931 AL MVP award. Grove went 31-4 for Philadelphia that year, with a major-league leading 217 ERA+. He led the league in ERA and ERA+ nine times, and his strikeout-to-walk ratio topped the AL eight times. The six-time All-Star was sold to the Red Sox after the 1933 season. He was inducted into Cooperstown in 1947 - yet somehow received Hall of Fame votes in 1960.

Now let's take a look at the Athletics' bench and bullpen:

Catcher - Gene Tenace
Infield - Miguel Tejada
Infield - Sal Bando
Outfield - Bob Johnson
Outfield - Jose Canseco

Tenace posted a 136 OPS+ for Oakland and won four World Series (three with the A's). Tejada slugged 156 home runs over seven seasons in Oakland and won AL MVP honors in 2002. Bando made four All-Star teams, won three World Series, and finished top-5 in AL MVP voting three times. Johnson, an eight-time All-Star, slashed .298/.395/ .520 in ten seasons with the A's and produced 57.3 WAR in his 13-year career. Canseco bashed 254 homers for Oakland (fourth in team history) and was unanimously voted AL MVP in 1988 after posting the first 40 homer/40 steal season in history.

#2 Starter - Rube Waddell
#3 Starter - Eddie Plank
#4 Starter - Charles Bender
#5 Starter - Vida Blue

Waddell led the league in strikeouts for six consecutive seasons and posted a 1.48 ERA in 1905. Plank is the franchise leader in WAR, wins, starts, strikeouts, and shutouts. The two lefties were the first southpaw pitchers inducted into Cooperstown. Bender's 1.091 career WHIP is second all-time among Athletics starters. The fifth starter battle was very close; Blue barely beat out Hall of Famer Catfish Hunter based on slightly better earned run averages and WAR. Would it be cheating if I put Hunter in the bullpen?

LH Reliever - Paul Lindblad
RH Reliever - Billy Taylor
LH Reliever - Sean Doolittle
RH Reliever - Huston Street
RH Reliever - Rollie Fingers
RH Reliever - Dennis Eckersley

Lindblad ranks fifth among A's in relief appearances and posted a 3.29 ERA over 11 seasons. Taylor earned 100 saves for the Athletics, third in team history. Doolittle did a lot for Oakland, posting a 0.929 WHIP over six seasons. Street barely qualified but his 324 career saves and 141 ERA+ deserved a spot. Fingers and Eckersley both won a Cy Young award, an MVP award, pitched in three straight World Series, and earned more than 300 career saves. Both are enshrined in Cooperstown.

Stay tuned for our next All-Time team, the Philadelphia Phillies

Thanks for reading!



  1. Wow, that lineup is stacked.
    How does a player hit 0.333 over 2.5 decades and NOT win a batting title. That is ridiculous!
    I think my favorite part of this series (besides the unveiling of the rosters of course) are the great stats you've been tossing out there. You're doing great work. :)

    1. Two words: Ty Cobb.

      Thanks for the kind words Tom! I'm thrilled you're enjoying this series.

  2. I certainly wouldn't want to do the research, but it would be interesting to know if anyone from their Kansas City days was even close to making this list, and if so, who?

    1. Not really. There were a couple relievers, John Wyatt and Diego Segui, that I considered.

  3. Hey! Doolittle made the team! That's awesome - I'm pretty sure I saw him play (as a first baseman!) at the collegiate level when he attended the University of Virginia!

    1. Until last year's World Series, I didn't know he was originally a 1st baseman. Very cool that you saw him play in college.

  4. Have I mentioned that the Mets had the first pick in that first draft, and took Steve Chilcott? Not that I'm bitter or anything.

    When I think of the A's, I think of the great teams of the early to mid 70s, which was when I first was interested in baseball. But those early Philadelphia teams had great players. Eddie Collins may be the most underrated/underappreciated player in major league baseball history; JoePo just ranked him as the #29 player of all time (Foxx was #33), but many baseball fans don't really know who he is. (I specify major league history because great Negro League players such as Pop Lloyd and Oscar Charleston are even more undervalued.)

    Jon, Bert Campaneris actually played 4 seasons in KC before the move. But there wasn't really a big star who primarily played for the KC A's. Ed Charles had the most WAR in KC and maybe would be a contender for a backup infield spot, but he wasn't on the same level as Tejada or Bando. http://www.i70baseball.com/2011/01/05/best-kansas-city-a%e2%80%99s-players-part-ii/?relatedposts_hit=1&relatedposts_origin=6373&relatedposts_position=0

    Catfish Hunter pitched in relief 23 times for the A's, so, sure, put him in the pen!

    1. I don't know if you've mentioned it but I can see why you'd still be mad at the Mets for passing on Reggie. At the very least he would have swung the '73 series the other way.

      Collins does get overlooked by other players of his era. I always thought Al Simmons was underrated, too, but I had no idea that Collins ranked so highly among the all-time greats.

  5. Was that Rickey himself giving us the details about Rickey? ;-)

  6. I'm gonna sound like a homer... but this lineup and starting rotation is pretty legit. I realize the Yankees lineup is a tad bit scarier... but this starting rotation would make it interesting. After you're finished creating all of your all-time teams... maybe go back and rank them ;) I'd love to see where the A's would end up.

    1. That sounds like a great idea! I might rank them by division and do some sort of playoff prediction, not sure. But I will have a recap post once the series is complete.