The 9 greatest players in Oakland Athletics history
The Oakland Athletics struck gold when they selected Tim Hudson in the sixth round of the 1997 MLB Draft, ultimately landing one of the better pitchers in franchise history.
In parts of six seasons with the A's, Hudson went 92-39 with a 3.30 ERA and 3.63 FIP across 183 starts. While pitching for Oakland, Hudson finished sixth or better in American League Cy Young Award voting on three occasions, including finishing runner up to Hall of Famer Pedro Martinez in 2000.
In the early 2000s, Hudson, Mark Mulder and Barry Zito formed one of the most dominant rotations in recent memory. Mulder made two All-Star Game appearances with the A's, and finished runner-up to Roger Clemens in AL Cy Young Award voting in 2001. Zito -- who possessed one of the nastiest curveballs in MLB history -- won the AL Cy Young Award in 2002.
Still, none of that trio managed to crack the list of the best players that the A's have had since moving to Oakland in 1968. They shouldn't feel badly, Eric Chavez, Rollie Fingers, Bert Camaneris, Miguel Tejada, Dwayne Murphy and Terry Steinbach were among those who just missed out on cracking this exclusive list.
With a move to Las Vegas feeling like a matter of when, here's our breakdown of the nine greatest players in Oakland Athletics history:
9. José Canseco (1985-1992; 1997)
Best Season as an Athletic: 1988 - .307/.391/.569 with 42 home runs, 124 RBIs, 78 walks, .959 OPS, 170 OPS+ and a 7.6 WAR
Career Stats as an Athletic: .264/.344/.507 with 254 home runs, 793 RBIs, 469 walks, .851 OPS, 136 OPS+ and 27.6 WAR
Whatever you think of Canseco as a person, he won the AL Rookie of the Year in 1986 and captured the junior circuit's MVP Award two seasons later. As an Athletic, Canseco made five All-Star Game appearances and won three Silver Slugger Awards. Of course, Canseco was a key cog in the A's teams that won three consecutive AL pennants between 1988 and 1990, capturing a World Series title in 1989.
8. Jason Giambi (1995-2001)
Best Season as an Athletic: 2000 - .333/.476/.647 with 43 home runs, 137 RBIs, 137 walks, 1.123 OPS, 187 OPS+ and 7.7 WAR
Career Stats as an Athletic: .300/.406/.531 with 198 home runs, 715 RBIs, 636 walks, .938 OPS, 144 OPS+ and 28.0 WAR
The "Giambino" served as a worthy heir to the greatest slugging first baseman in franchise history -- more on him in a minute -- winning the AL MVP in 2000. Over his final three seasons with the A's, Giambi posted the third highest on-base percentage in baseball, trailing only Barry Bonds and Larry Walker. Had he not departed for a seven-year/$120 million deal with the New York Yankees after the 2001 season, Giambi would likely be even higher on this list.
7. Catfish Hunter (1968-1974)
Best Season as an Athletic: 1974 - 25-12 with a 2.49 ERA, 134 ERA+, 3.17 FIP, 0.986 WHIP, 143 strikeouts, 23 complete games and a 5.8 WAR
Career Stats as an Athletic: 131-77 with a 3.00 ERA, 109 ERA+, 3.56 FIP, 1.103 WHIP, 1,139 strikeouts, 96 complete games and 19.8 WAR
One of the most decorated players in franchise history, Hunter won the AL Cy Young Award in 1974, his final of seven seasons in Oakland. The A's retired Hunter's No. 27 during the summer of 1991, four years after he was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame with a blank cap on his plaque.
(For the purposes of this countdown, his first three seasons -- which came for the Kansas City Athletics -- were not considered.)
6. Sal Bando (1968-1976)
Best Season as an Athletic: .281/.400/.484 with 31 home runs, 113 RBIs, 111 walks, .885 OPS, 153 OPS+ and a 7.7 WAR
Career Stats as an Athletic: .256/.360/.422 with 192 home runs, 789 RBIs, 775 walks, .783 OPS, 129 OPS+ and 46.6 WAR
One of the most underrated players of the 1970s, Bando never won an AL MVP, but he finished fourth or better on three occasions, including finishing as runner-up to one of his teammates -- who we'll get to shortly -- in 1971. Since the A's moved to Oakland in 1968, Bando is sixth in home runs (192), third in RBIs (789) and second in WAR (46.6), per FanGraphs.
(For the purposes of this countdown, his first two seasons -- which came for the Kansas City Athletics -- were not considered.)
5. Vida Blue (1969-1977)
Best Season as an Athletic: 1971 - 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA, 183 ERA+, 2.20 FIP, 0.952 WHIP, 301 strikeouts, 24 complete games and an 8.8 WAR
Career Stats as an Athletic: 124-86 with a 2.95 ERA, 118 ERA+, 3.13 FIP, 1.165 WHIP, 1,315 strikeouts, 105 complete games and 36.2 WAR
In 1971, Blue led the AL in ERA (1.82), FIP (2.20), WHIP 0.952) and complete-game shutouts (eight), en route to capturing both the Cy Young Award and MVP in the junior circuit. A key part of the A's teams that won three straight World Series titles between 1972 and 1974, Blue has the most innings pitched (1,954 2/3) and highest WAR (36.2) among pitchers since the franchise moved to Oakland.
4. Mark McGwire (1986-1997)
Best Season as an Athletic: 1996 - .312/.467/.730 with 52 home runs, 113 RBIs, 116 walks, 1.198 OPS, 196 OPS+ and a 7.3 WAR
Career Stats as an Athletic: .260/.380/.551 with 363 home runs, 941 RBIs, 847 walks, .931 OPS, 155 OPS+ and 44.4 WAR
The height of McGwire's powers, quite literally, came with the St. Louis Cardinals in the late 1990s. But the bulk of McGwire's career -- parts of 12 seasons -- came with the A's. McGwire won the 1987 AL Rookie of the Year, two seasons before he would help the franchise to win a World Series over the San Francisco Giants. Dating back to when they were founded in Philadelphia in 1901, McGwire is the all-time leader among A's players in home runs with 363. In terms of players who have played for the Oakland iteration of the A's, McGwire has the most career RBIs as well, at 941.
3. Dennis Eckersley (1987-1995)
Best Season as an Athletic: 1992 - 7-1 with a 1.91 ERA, 195 ERA+, 1.72 FIP, 0.913 WHIP, 93 strikeouts, 51 saves in 54 attempts and a 3.1 WAR
Career Stats as an Athletic: 41-31 with a 2.74 ERA, 145 ERA+, 2.44 FIP, 0.953 WHIP, 658 strikeouts, 320 saves and 19.3 WAR
Eckersley owns the top career marks among Oakland pitchers in ERA (2.74), FIP (2.44) and saves (320). He finished sixth or better in AL Cy Young Award voting on four occasions while with the Athletics, winning the award and the AL MVP in an iconic 1992 season. "Eck" was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2004, and dons the iconic "A's" cap on his plaque. A year later, the franchise retired his No. 43.
2. Reggie Jackson (1968-1975)
Best Season as an Athletic: 1969 - .275/.410/.608 with 47 home runs, 118 RBIs, 114 walks, 1.018 OPS, 189 OPS+ and an 8.9 WAR
Career Stats as an Athletic: .268/.362/.509 with 253 home runs, 727 RBIs, 590 walks, .870 OPS, 152 OPS+ and 45.6 WAR
One of the greatest players in MLB history, Jackson spent nine seasons in Oakland, making six All-Star Game appearances and peaking by winning the AL MVP in 1973. While he's most remembered for his postseason heroics as a member of the New York Yankees, Jackson became "Mr. October" while with the A's, winning three titles with Oakland, and taking home World Series MVP in 1973. Jackson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993, and, rather controversially, is wearing a Yankees cap on his plaque. Nonetheless, the A's retired Jackson's No. 9 in 2004.
(For the purposes of this countdown, his first season -- which came for the Kansas City Athletics -- was not considered.)
1. Rickey Henderson (1979-1984; 1989-1993; 1994-1995; 1998)
Best Season as an Athletic: 1990 - .325/.439/.577 with 28 home runs, 61 RBIs, 97 walks, 1.016 OPS, 189 OPS+, 65 stolen bases in 75 attempts and a 10.2 WAR
Career Stats as an Athletic: .288/.409/.430 with 167 home runs, 648 RBIs, 1,227 walks, .839 OPS, 137 OPS+, 867 stolen bases and 68.6 WAR
Henderson is Major League Baseball's all-time leader in both stolen bases (1,406) and runs scored (2,295), which he owes in large part to four stints in Oakland. Henderson led baseball in steals in eight separate seasons while with the A's, including in 1990 when he was voted the AL MVP. Henderson was elected as a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2009, and his plaque features him wearing an Athletics cap with a big smile on his face. The "Man of Steal" had his No. 24 retired by the A's that same summer.