Top 10 Best Oakland Athletics Players of All Time
The Oakland Athletics are a Major League Baseball franchise that has been around since the early 20th century, 1901 to be exact. They were originally located in Philadelphia (1901-1954), before moving to Kansas City (1955-1967), and finally settling down in Oakland in 1968. In all of that time, they have won nine World Series titles between the three cities. They have had some incredible players along the way, and the ten best players in franchise history are ranked and discussed below.
Who Are the Best Oakland A’s Baseball Players of All Time?
- Rickey Henderson
- Jimmie Foxx
- Dennis Eckersley
- Eddie Plank
- Reggie Jackson
- Lefty Grove
- Mark McGwire
- Sal Bando
- Bert Campaneris
- Al Simmons
1. Rickey Henderson
- Six All-Star appearances (1980, 1982-1984, 1990, 1991)
- 1990 American League MVP
- 2009 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
Out of all of the great players the Athletics have had over the years, Rickey Henderson has to be considered the greatest of them all. Henderson had a few different stints with the club that totaled fourteen years (1979-1984, 1989-1995, 1998). In those fourteen seasons, he made the All-Star team six times (1980, 1982-1984, 1990, 1991), won two Silver Slugger awards (1981, 1990), and was named the MVP of the American League in 1990.
Additionally, in terms of his Athletics all-time franchise ranks, Henderson ranks number one in WAR (72.7), number one in runs scored (1,270), number one in walks (1,227), number one in stolen bases (867), number three in hits (1,768), and number four in total bases (2,64). In terms of stolen bases, Henderson’s career mark of 1,406 ranks number one all-time in MLB history. Lastly, Henderson was a member of one of the Athletics’ most recent World Series-winning teams in 1989. In that World Series, Henderson recorded nine hits, scored four runs, and drove in three runs.
2. Jimmie Foxx
- Two-time American League MVP (1932, 1933)
- Three All-Star appearances (1933-1935)
- 1951 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
One of the first true stars in Major League Baseball, Jimmie Foxx comes in at number two on this list. Foxx played eleven seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics from 1925-1935. In that time, Foxx won back-to-back American League MVP awards in 1932 and 1933, as well as making the first three All-Star games in MLB history from 1933-1935. In 1933, his .356 batting average led the American League.
In terms of the Athletics franchise records, Foxx ranks second in home runs with 302, fourth in runs scored with 975, second in WAR with 61.2, third in total bases with 2,813, second in RBIs with 1,075, and seventh in hits with 1,492. In the two World Series that the team won with Foxx as their star in 1929 and 1930, Foxx combined for fourteen hits, three home runs, and eight RBIs in the eleven games he played.
3. Dennis Eckersley
- 1992 American League Cy Young and MVP winner
- Four All-Star appearances (1988, 1990-1992)
- 2004 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
A player who began his career as a starting pitcher, Dennis Eckersley reinvented himself with the Athletics and became one of the game’s best relievers of all time. Eckersley joined the club in 1987, twelve years after his big league debut, and he pitched in Oakland until 1995. His best year with the club was in 1992 when he was named the American League’s MVP and won the Cy Young Award after leading all of baseball with 51 saves. In all, he made four All-Star appearances as an Athletic; in 1988 and then three in a row from 1990-1992.
Out of all of the pitchers the Athletics have ever had, Eckersley ranks first in games pitched (525), first in saves (320), first in walks per nine innings (1.3), second in strikeouts per nine innings (9.297), and ninth in career ERA (2.74). In the 1989 World Series that he helped lead the team alongside Reggie Jackson to, Eckersley finished two games while recording one save and retiring all five batters he faced.
4. Eddie Plank
- Three World Series Championships (1910, 1911, 1913)
- Led American League in complete games in 1905 (35)
- 1946 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
A member of the original Philadelphia Athletics team in 1901, Eddie Plank is a pitcher who is the oldest player on this list. Plank was a member of the organization from 1901-1914 for a total of 14 seasons. While he played, there was no Cy Young award (Cy Young was actually pitching at this time) or All-Star game. Otherwise, Plank would have certainly earned some of those accolades. Nonetheless, Plank is still a member of the Baseball Hall of Fame (1946 inductee) and won three World Series titles with the A’s in 1910, 1911, and 1913.
Moreover, Plank ranks first all-time for the A’s in pitcher WAR (74.5), wins (284), innings pitched (3,860 ⅔), strikeouts (1,985), complete games (363), shutouts (59), and games started (458). In those three World Series victories, Plank combined to win two games and allowed just four earned runs in 28 ⅔ innings pitched while striking out 15 times.
5. Reggie Jackson
- 1973 American League MVP
- Six All-Star appearances (1969, 1971-1975)
- 1993 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
A major part of the greatest run in Athletics franchise history, Reggie Jackson rounds out the first half of this list. Jackson was a member of the A’s for nine years from 1967-1975, as well as the final season of his career in 1987. While with the club, Jackson managed to make six All-Star teams (1969, 1971-1975) and win the 1973 American League MVP award.
In his ten seasons with the A’s, Jackson hit the third most home runs (269), drove in the eighth most runs (776), racked up the eighth most total bases (2,323), and collected the seventh most WAR (48.1). Lastly, Jackson was a member of three straight World Series-winning teams with the A’s from 1972-1974. In those three series’, Jackson collected thirteen hits, hit two home runs, and drove in seven runs. A lot of that damage came in 1973 when he was named the Series MVP.
6. Lefty Grove
- 1931 American League MVP
- 1933 All-Star appearance
- 1972 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
Another player from the Philadelphia Athletics days of the early 20th century is the legendary Lefty Grove. Grove was a teammate of the aforementioned Jimmie Foxx with the A’s for nine seasons from 1925-1933. His final season with the club was also the first ever MLB All-Star game, and Grove unsurprisingly was selected to participate. Two years prior, he had been named the AL MVP, and he also led the American League in ERA on five occasions (1926, 1929-1932).
Grove ranks second in a few pitching categories for the A’s behind Eddie Plank, including pitcher WAR (68.3) and wins (195), as well as having the fourth most strikeouts (1,523), fifth most innings pitched (2,401), the third most complete games (179), and the seventh most shutouts (20). Lastly, in the 1929 and 1930 World Series that the club won, Grove recorded two wins while only allowing three earned runs in 25 ⅓ innings pitched and striking out twenty.
7. Mark McGwire
- Nine All-Star appearances (1987-1992, 1995-1997)
- 1987 American League Rookie of the Year
- Two Silver Slugger Awards (1992, 1996)
While his legacy will always be tainted to a certain extent due to steroids, Mark McGwire still had an outstanding career with the Athletics. Mark played with the A’s for twelve seasons from 1986-1997. He was named the AL Rookie of the Year in 1987, and he was selected to participate in the All-Star game in nine of those twelve years (1987-1992, 1995-1997). He also won two Silver Slugger Awards in 1992 and 1996.
One of the best home run hitters ever, McGwire is the Athletics’ all-time leader with 363 home runs. He also ranks seventh in total bases (2,451), tenth in runs scored (773), fourth in walks (847), fourth in RBIs (941), and ninth in WAR (42.9). One of the younger players on the 1989 World Series team, McGwire contributed five hits and drove in a run in the four-game series sweep of the crosstown rival San Francisco Giants.
8. Sal Bando
- Four All-Star appearances (1969, 1972-1974)
- Three World Series titles (1972-1974)
- Second in AL MVP Voting in 1971
Another member of the A’s squad that won three titles in a row from 1972-1974 is Sal Bando. Bando came up with the Kansas City Athletics in 1966 and stayed with the franchise from 1966-1976. In those eleven seasons, Bando made four appearances in the All-Star game (1969, 1972-1974), and finished second in the AL MVP voting in 1971 to teammate Vida Blue when he batted .271 with 24 home runs and 94 RBIs. He also played in all 162 games on three occasions (1968, 1969, 1973), something rarely seen in today’s game.
On the A’s all-time leaderboards, Bando ranks fifth in RBIs with 796, ninth in home runs with 192, fourth in WAR with 52.1, fourth in games played with 1,468, and sixth in walks with 792. Furthermore, in the aforementioned three World Series, he helped the A’s win, recorded fourteen hits and four RBIs, drew eight walks, and scored ten runs in the nineteen games combined.
9. Bert Campaneris
- Five All-Star appearances (1968, 1972-1975)
- Three World Series titles (1972-1974)
- American League Leader in stolen bases six times (1965-1968, 1970, 1972)
The third member of the all-time great 1970s Athletics teams, Bert Campaneris is the penultimate player on this list. Like Bando and Jackson, Campaneris began his career with Kansas City before heading out west to Oakland with the team, playing 13 seasons in total for the team from 1964-1976. He was a member of five All-Star teams with the A’s (1968, 1972-1975) and led the AL in stolen bases six times (1965-1968, 1970, 1972).
Unsurprisingly, with all of those years leading the league, Campaneris ranks second behind Rickey Henderson in A’s history with 566 stolen bases. He also is the franchise's all-time leader in hits (1,882), and ranks third in runs scored (983), fifth in total bases (2,502), and sixth in WAR (49). In the 1972, 1973, and 1974 World Series combined’, Campaneris recorded twenty hits, stole four bases, and scored eight runs in the nineteen games played.
10. Al Simmons
- Two-time American League Batting Champion (1930, 1931)
- Two-time World Series champion (1929, 1930)
- 1953 Baseball Hall of Fame Inductee
The final member of this list is another 1920’s Philadelphia Athletics team member in Al Simmons. Simmons totaled twelve years with the franchise, first playing there from 1924-1932, then returning for three seasons in 1940, 1941, and 1944. While there was no All-Star game during his first stint with the team when he was at his best, Simmons did win two batting titles with the team in 1930 and 1931, when he batted .381 and .390, respectively. He also helped the team win the World Series in 1929 and 1930 alongside greats like Jimmie Foxx and Lefty Grove.
As for his all-time A’s ranks, Simmons ranks second in hits (1,827), fifth in runs scored (969), first in total bases (2,998), second in doubles (348), and seventh in home runs (209). In the 1929 and 1930 Fall Classics, Simmons combined for fourteen hits, four home runs, and drove in nine runs.
- Home Run Baker
- Vida Blue
- Jose Canseco
- Mickey Cochrane
- Eddie Collins
- Jason Giambi
- Tim Hudson
- Catfish Hunter
- Bob Johnson
- Rube Wadell
Who is the best Oakland Athletics player of all time?
While there have been a lot of great Athletics players over the years, Rickey Henderson deserves the nod as the greatest of them all. During his time with the club, Henderson made six All-Star teams (1980, 1982-1984, 1990, 1991) and was named the American League’s MVP in 1990. On the A’s all-time lists, Henderson ranks number one in WAR (72.7), number one in runs scored (1,270), number one in walks (1,227), and number one in stolen bases (867).
Which Oakland Athletics player holds the record for most home runs?
Out of all of the players to ever play for the Athletics, no one has hit more home runs than the legendary Mark McGwire. McGwire hit 363 home runs in his twelve seasons played in Oakland, meaning he averaged right around 30 home runs per season. Just behind McGwire on the all-time list are greats like Jimmie Foxx (302), Reggie Jackson (269), Jose Canseco (254), and Bob Johnson (252). Unfortunately, McGwire’s career will always be tainted due to the use of steroids.