The Mount Rushmore of the Oakland Athletics

1974 Topps #130 Reggie Jackson

Well, we’re back into the truly classical era now, moving to a franchise that was founded in 1901. For our purposes, this poll includes the Philadelphia, Kansas City, and Oakland A’s.

OK here are the top 15 batters ranked by WAR:

Rk Player WAR/pos From To
1 Rickey Henderson 70.2 1979 1998
2 Jimmie Foxx 59.7 1925 1935
3 Eddie Collins 55.1 1906 1930
4 Sal Bando 48.8 1966 1976
5 Al Simmons 48.0 1924 1944
6 Bert Campaneris 45.9 1964 1976
7 Reggie Jackson 45.2 1967 1987
8 Bob Johnson 41.9 1933 1942
9 Home Run Baker 40.3 1908 1914
10 Mark McGwire 40.3 1986 1997
11 Mickey Cochrane 38.0 1925 1933
12 Harry Davis 33.5 1901 1917
13 Max Bishop 33.1 1924 1933
14 Danny Murphy 32.4 1902 1913
15 Eric Chavez 32.1 1998 2010
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/4/2012.

Whoa…major shock compared to all the other teams we’ve done so far. We’ve got 6 Hall of Famers in the top 9.

Here are the top 15 pitchers by WAR:

Rk Player WAR From To
1 Eddie Plank 69.5 1901 1914
2 Lefty Grove 61.2 1925 1933
3 Eddie Rommel 46.2 1920 1932
4 Rube Waddell 44.5 1902 1907
5 Chief Bender 40.5 1903 1914
6 Tim Hudson 29.4 1999 2004
7 Barry Zito 29.2 2000 2006
8 Vida Blue 26.9 1969 1977
9 Rube Walberg 26.3 1923 1933
10 Catfish Hunter 23.2 1965 1974
11 Jack Coombs 19.4 1906 1914
12 Mark Mulder 18.5 2000 2004
13 Bobby Shantz 18.1 1949 1956
14 Dave Stewart 16.9 1986 1995
15 Jack Quinn 15.4 1925 1930
Provided by Baseball-Reference.com: View Play Index Tool Used
Generated 6/4/2012.

Hmm..more HOFers. 5 out of the top 10 guys are enshrined already.

We’ve also got to consider two managers–Connie Mack and Tony LaRussa. I don’t even know what to say about these guys…

Please choose 4.


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71 Comments on "The Mount Rushmore of the Oakland Athletics"

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Jason Z
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I went with Eddie Plank and Lefty Grove right away as they represent the A’s dynasties of the early 1910’s and the late 20’s and early 30’s. I also took Jimmie Foxx who played with Grove and put up “Ruthian” numbers. The final choice was tough. I took Connie Mack, because as owner/manager for 50 years, he was the creator and destroyer of multiple great teams. He once said that the best season was fourth place. You stay in the race long enough to help the attendance, then fade at the end and avoid having to give the players raises… Read more »
Steven
Guest

Connie Mack, Lefty Grove, Bert Campaneris, and Charlie Finley. Mack represents virtually the entire Philadelphia era; Grove was at his peak with the A’s at a time when hitting was dominant; Campaneris was great both in Kansas City and as a three-time Oakland world champion. Then there was Finley. He took the A’s from Kansas City, where they didn’t draw, to Oakland, where they won and still didn’t draw. Maybe I should replace him with Ed Charles.

deal
Guest

There is a statue of Mack outside the Phillies Ballpark. That is good enough for me. I want to see the Mt Rushmore of just the KC A’s – Thinking Roger Maris might have a chance of making that foursome.

Steven
Guest

Maris, Vic Power, Ed Charles and Bob Cerv.

no statistician but
Guest

Maris played two years in KC, one very ordinary. Norm Siebern’s four years are far better.

Richard Chester
Guest

And how about a Mt. Rushmore for the guys who shuttled back and forth between the Yankees and KC A’s.

Jeff H
Guest

Managers don’t play the game, so they are not eligible in my book. I voted straightforward on this one: Henderson, Foxx, Plank, Grove.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

Is “Managers don’t play the game” going to be the new “Pitchers have their own award, so they should NOT get MVP votes” of our Mt Rushmore voting?

Gabriel
Guest
This is a Mt. Rushmore, not a Mt. WAR. On my Mt. Rushmore I want the guys who really personify the team. As such, I want a combo of personality, longevity with team, and real identification with the team. Of course, being good also matters. The problem with the A’s is that in all of their incarnations, being good has sooner or later meant being shipped to another team… The first two were easy. Connie Mack The first managed for over 50 years and instantly says “Philadelphia Athletics” to me. He’s in, no problem. Rickey Henderson had 4 different stints… Read more »
bstar
Guest

Gabriel, this exercise is entirely subjective. Whatever rules you want to use to determine your top 4 are completely up to you. So if some people want to use WAR as their only benchmark, I don’t see the problem with that. My personal belief is it should be players only, but I don’t have a problem with others voting for Mack, or McGraw, or Stengel, etc.

James Smyth
Guest

I like Jason Z’s quote about the best season finish being fourth place. In 50 seasons managing the A’s (01-50), they only came in fourth three times (’01 ’06 ’48).

As you would expect, his habit of building a dynasty then dismantling it produced many pennants, but also many years as the cellar-dweller.

Half of his seasons ended in an AL pennant (eight) or a last-place finish (17).

Here are the fifty seasons broken down by place in the standings from first to eighth:

8-7-3-3-3-6-3-17

Unbreakable records: 3731 wins, 3948 losses, 53 yrs as mgr (50 w one team), and how about managing at 87!

Tmckelv
Guest

Not to mention that he managed in a suit and hat. 🙂

I also picture him with a cane and monocle. That might be Mr. Peanut, though.

Richard Chester
Guest

Not long ago John Autin, I believe, posted a blog in defense of Mack. He stated that the dismantlings of the A’s teams were largely due to economic conditions caused by the competition of the Federal League and the depression and not merely by stinginess on the part of Mack. Also Mack’s sole source of income was from his ownership of the team and did not have other sources as other owners did.

Other managers who wore civilian clothes while managing: Bill Armour, Emil Fuchs, John McGraw, Burt Shotton and George Stallings.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

Who was the last MLB manager _not_ to wear his team’s uniform when managing?

Richard Chester
Guest

Seriously, according to my book, the last two were Mack and Shotton in 1950.

Evan
Guest

Doesn’t Joe Maddon wear that team-logo pullover thing or a sweatshirt and no jersey underneath? Not exactly street clothes, but also not the team’s uniform per se.

Hartvig
Guest
Since so many of the Athletic’s greatest players spent a significant part of their careers with other teams as well and, in many of those cases, are better remembered on those other teams even if they may not have played as well for them (Collins, Foxx, Grove, Jackson, Hunter) I decided to take a “span of the franchise” approach. Pick number 1 was Rube Waddell not only to represent not only the early glory of the franchise but also a time when you could be completely certifiable and still have a relatively long and successful major league career plus you… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
For me, this is the toughest one yet. So many truly great players — yet few spent the bulk of their careers with the A’s. It’s hard to believe that their all-time leader in games (Campaneris) has just 1,795; Detroit has nine players with more, the Yankees eight. Foxx spent barely half his career there; Reggie and Collins less than half; McGwire had his greatest years in STL; Grove won 4 of his 9 ERA titles in Boston; etc., etc., etc. Since the team has turned over its roster perhaps more than any other of the original 16, I’m shifting… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
The multi-city teams are going to be particularly tough, since their identities change so dramatically. I voted for Henderson out of deference to the A’s post-Philadelphia days, even though Jackson better represented Oakland’s era of greatest success. (I worried that Jackson’s head might not leave room for any others.) No Mack, no A’s: he’s Washington (not Herb). I think Grove’s in the competition for greatest pitcher of all time (not his fault the reserve clause forced him to contribute 100 victories to an independent minor league team because he was too good to sell), and unlike Plank, he was dominant… Read more »
Hartvig
Guest

“As for the A’s KC days, with all deference to deal (@#4), perhaps a plaque at the Rushmore Snack Bar?”

Where they could sell the Ed Charles(ton) Chew bars?

Or have a sign that says:
No Shirt
No shoes
No Cerv(ice)?

John Autin
Editor
I’m shocked that Collins has just 5% of the vote so far. No player was more important to their first dynasty, 3 titles and 4 pennants in 5 years from 1910-14. The A’s got good in his first full season (1909, 95-58, 2nd place), and in his 6 full years there (1909-14), Collins led all MLB position players with 51.8 WAR, and ranked 1st in Runs, 2nd in steals (with a high of 81), 3rd in BA and OBP (trailing only Cobb and Jackson), 4th in OPS+, 5th in games. I know he played more with Chicago, and he can… Read more »
Hartvig
Guest
While it’s true that Collins had most of his greatest seasons in Philadelphia and played on some very successful teams I do think that all the time he spent with Chicago and the Black Sox scandal tend to fix him there in peoples minds. If not for Mack’s need/practice of selling off his best players when money got tight it’s almost hard to imagine how much longer those teams might have dominated. Other than at shortstop and center field they put an all-time team on the field that is as good as any. When you figure the depth of their… Read more »
Brent
Guest
A young Reggie could probably play CF too. (92 games there in 1972). For the first 3 or 4 years of his career, Al Simmons was a CFer too. So, if you want to squeeze Reggie, Rickey and Bucketfoot Al all into your outfield, I think you could probably play any one of them in CF. At SS, you either are going to have to play Miggy Tejeda or Dagoberto. Still, I agree, a really good 25 man roster. The Yankees have a better lineup and bench, the Giants might have a better pitching staff, but yeah, the A’s might… Read more »
Gabriel
Guest

I think that the Mack vote really cut into the Collins vote. I think most everyone has Rickey and Mack on the ballot, leaving two spots for the rest of A’s history. There’s a good case for Collins, but also a good case for several others, and Mack covers the same era as Collins, putting them in competition.

bstar
Guest
Yeah, good point Gabriel about Mack maybe stealing some votes for Collins. I agree, JA, this one is really tough. I want to pick Rickey, Foxx, Collins, and Lefty Grove and be done with it but then the ’72-’74 A’s don’t have a representative at all. Reggie gets my vote from that dynasty but who do I leave off? Since Collins had more WAR with Chicago, I think I will wait and cast my vote for him later. Reggie, Rickey, Foxx, and Grove. By the way, JA, did you say Eddie Collins is the best second baseman of all-time? Rogers… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
I’d be sorry for anyone who was tapped by Hornsby’s ghost – they say he was scary enough pre-mortem. But I think a case could be made that John’s right. Hornsby’s WAR is about 5% beyond Collins’ – sort of margin of error – and Collins was much more a pure second baseman: he played over 1000 more games at second than Hornsby. Of course, peak-Hornsby is practically in a class by himself – in more ways than one, since after a few years, peak-Hornsby’s teams couldn’t wait to get rid of him: McGraw practically gave him away after a… Read more »
bstar
Guest

Hornsby’s WAR total is beyond Collins’ and he accumulated that figure in ~2500 fewer PAs. That’s 4-5 seasons worth. Oh yeah, and the two Triple Crowns….

John Autin
Editor
bstar, I stand by my opinion. I wouldn’t get into a quarrel about it, since Hornsby was fantastic — but so was Collins, and at their super-elite level I think it’s fair to look to other things, like championships won, performance in the WS, and whether teams liked having them around. Hornsby won 2 pennants and 1 title, and hit poorly in both WS (.245/.615 combined, no HRs in 12 games, -0.612 WPA). Collins won 6 pennants and 4 titles and hit well in the WS (.328/.790, 0.220 WPA). I also downgrade Hornsby a bit for the fact that he… Read more »
bstar
Guest
Well, in comparing the two it seems to me that more WS rings is about the only way Collins had a better career than Rogers Hornsby. As for their performance in the postseason, are you prepared to call Derek Jeter a better SS than Honus Wagner? Jeter has 5 rings and 7 appearances in the World Series and has hit well(.321/.832) while Wagner hit way below average (for him) in his two WS appearances with one win and one loss(.275/.766). You’ve got to admit, there is some similarity there between Collins/Hornsby and Jeter/Wagner. As for Hornsby being a terrible teammate… Read more »
John Autin
Editor
The Dick Allen snafu aside, James’s essays on both Collins and Hornsby in the Historical Abstract cite multiple sources in the process of reaching his conclusions. Have you read those essays lately? I do give Jeter some extra credit for his WS titles and his own performance therein — but the Jeter/Wagner comparison still doesn’t get out of the gate. For Collins/Hornsby, we’re talking about a difference of about 6 WAR, 118.5 for Collins, 124.6 for the Rajah. For Jeter/Wagner, we’re almost talking about a factor of 2 — 68.1 for Jetes, 126.2 for Wagner. Come on, b. Don’t insult… Read more »
bstar
Guest

It’s not really merely a 6 WAR difference, JA. It’s two wins per season:

Hornsby WAR/150 8.3
Collins WAR/150 6.3

no statistician but
Guest
In defense of Honus, he was on four pennant winners, but there were no WS in 1901 and 1903. The Pirates, in fact, finished second four times, and third most of the others from 1901 through 1912 when Wagner flourished, battling it out yearly with the Cubs and Giants, who each also won 4 pennants in the 12 year span. I’d say, re Hornsby, if batting alone counts, he’s obviously #1. If fielding is brought in, however, his position at the top is open to argument, and that’s why such things as how his teams finished, how he performed post-season,… Read more »
bstar
Guest

no stat, Hornsby had more dWAR in his career than Collins. He even played shortstop for two full seasons, in 1917 and 1918, and finished second in the league in dWAR both years. Although Collins was a good fielder also, could he have played shortstop full-time and been an elite defender as Hornsby was in his time at SS?

Hornsby dWAR 13.9
Collins dWAR 8.1

John Autin
Editor
But why should “per 150 games” carry the argument? Hornsby played in 23 seasons, Collins in 25. And I notice you don’t address the Hornsby trades. St. Louis, with long experience of Hornsby and with every intention of winning championships, traded him for Frankie Frisch. And while you can never tell what they might have done had they kept Hornsby, the fact is that they were the class of the NL for the next decade, and Frisch — a lesser star, but still a legit HOFer — was by all accounts a huge part of that. John McGraw — was… Read more »
e pluribus munu
Guest
James essentially ranked Morgan, Collins, and Hornsby equal: the number difference is miniscule and he excludes issues like Hornsby’s difficulties with teammates and management. I think arguing the ranking of these guys is exceptionally appropriate: any pick is justifiable and no one’s going to win outright, although WAR isn’t quite as kind to Morgan. bstar, I understand the point about Hornsby compiling his WAR more quickly, but Collins was not just accumulating counting stats towards the end of his career; he was exceptionally consistent over 20 years, and that’s a balance against Hornsby’s fantasic (and remarkably sustained) peak. Hornsby gives… Read more »
Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

I’d bet it would have blown those guys’ minds to know a bunch of strangers would have this conversation with their fingers 100 years in the future.

bstar
Guest

OK, you guys can take the great player who’s also a great teammate and I’ll opt for, while definitely an ass, the best right-handed hitter in the history of the game of baseball. I’m tired, going to bed.

no statistician but
Guest
A brief, belated reply to bstar: You seem not to respect Bill James, but his comments on Hornsby as a fielder are telling. The Rajah couldn’t or wouldn’t make certain plays, and he was a decent, but not great, glove man otherwise. My opinions on defensive WAR are notoriously negative, so citing them cuts no ice with me. And it’s not that people deliberately have a down on Hornsby as a personality. It’s that the evidence is too overwhelming to believe otherwise. He had a habit of poisoning the workplace with his attitudes and powerful personality. It was Captain Bligh… Read more »
bstar
Guest

I have plenty of respect for James, no stat, but I don’t believe player evaluation is his strong suit. I think it’s his innovative thinking and the fact that in a general sense he changed the way we look at the game. I also think he’s a really great writer, period, and very entertaining to read. If I had no respect for Bill James, I wouldn’t have subscribed to his website for years.

John Autin
Editor

For what it’s worth, Bill James rates the second basemen as:
1) Morgan
2) Collins
3) Hornsby
4) Robinson

topper009
Guest

I cant get over the fact that Collins was just too much of a slap hitter. 3315 hits but only 672 for extra bases. He maintained a high OPS+ thanks to walks, but Ill take a 2nd baseman who can 3 instead of 1.

Abbott
Guest

Henderson/Foxx/Grove are pretty obvious, but it’s the fourth one that’s tricky. Kinda have to go with a guy from the 70’s, and my choice is Catfish Hunter. So many other good choices though.

Tmckelv
Guest
The A’s are interesting because they have 5 different great eras and 1 mini-era. 4 Dynasties, another squad with a few playoff appearances, and a 2-season burst with personality and historical significance. I think you could make a legitimate Mount Rushmore for each of the eras. 1910 thru 1914 – Eddie Plank, Eddie Collins, Home Run Baker, Connie Mack (over Coombs) 1929 thru 1931 – Jimmie Foxx, Al Simmons, Lefty Grove, Mickey Cochrane 1971 thru 1975 – Reggie Jackson, Catfish Hunter, Sal Bando, Gene Tenace (over Finley, Fingers, Rudi, Campy, and Vida) 1980 thru 1981 – Billy Martin, Rickey Henderson,… Read more »
Ed
Guest

Good well thought out post Tmckelv. Wish I had read it before voting.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

This is where I make my argument for TWO separate Mt Rushmore’s, done chronologically – maybe three in the case of a storied franchise such as the A’s. Expansion would be a good dividing line.

PRE-EXPANSION: Mack, Collins, Grove, Foxx
POST-EXPANSION: Catfish, Reggie, Ricky, TLR

I do understand that this exercise is to force us to make these difficult decisions.

Tubbs
Guest
Tmckelv, great comment about the ups & downs of the A’s franchise. I went with Connie Mack, Jimmie Foxx, Catfish Hunter, and Rickey Henderson. Mack got the nod over Collins to represent the A’s first dynasty while Foxx represents the second. I gave Catfish the nod over Reggie, Campy, & Sal–Cat & Campy were there for some the lowly KC years, Reggie was awesome but an outcast on the team, Sal was the captain but when Cat left via free agency that was the end of 72-74 Championship run. I know saber stats show Cat was overrated & pitching at… Read more »
Brent
Guest

The A’s are the only team that could do a Great Rushmore on non-players: Mack, Finley, LaRussa and Beane. All of them contributed heavily to the game and how it was played/managed/evaluated. All of them were outstanding at some aspect of management and were innovative in their own way.

Anyway, for players on the Mount, I went with Rickey, Foxx, Grove and Collins.

DanFlan
Guest

Does anyone else want to see a giant stone monument of Rollie Fingers?

Hartvig
Guest

How could I leave him off my team?!!?

I never even thought about that great mustache up on the side of the mountain.

Dagoberto’s got to go and up with Rollie.

Erick
Guest

I don’t know where else to put this, so I’ll ask this question here-did you intentionally skip the Texas Rangers for some reason? You had the Mets, then the Astros, then the Angels, skipped the Rangers, and now you’re on to teams that started in 1901. Just wondering, unless I somehow missed that post somewhere.

Doug
Guest

Lots of love for Grove, almost none for Rommel. Same story for Foxx and Simmons.

No write-in votes for WS hero Howard Ehmke, holder of the WS strikeout record for 24 years?

But, what a team that was!

Phil
Guest

Impossible, basically…Mack, Grove, Reggie, Henderson. Leaving off Foxx and Collins is ridiculous, I know. But I’ve gotta get Reggie onto one of these, and there won’t be any room with the Yankees.

Gary Bateman
Guest

You have to go with Mack. I favor Grove, Henderson and Collins for the other three. I do think it’s interesting that this franchise has two owners who could be considered–both of whom couldn’t/wouldn’t keep quality talent for an extended time.

BTW–did I miss the Senators/Rangers post?

Gary Bateman
Guest

Sorry, I just saw the reply on the Rangers.

Big Daddy V
Guest

If a poll has Chief Bender on it, I will always vote for Chief Bender. I hold this truth to be self-evident.

Jason Z
Guest

If I had all the men I’ve ever handled and they were in their prime and there was one game I wanted to win above all others, Albert (Chief Bender) would be my man.” Source: Hall of Fame Yearbook (1989)

Phil
Guest

For those who voted Campy Campaneris: I salute you.

Luis Gomez
Guest

Every time I read Campaneris´ name I think of “Dagoberto”. One of the greatest hispanic baseball names of all time, along with Orestes Saturnino Minoso 🙂

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

I’ll up the ante for “greatest name” (any nationality), with Cal McLish:

Calvin Coolidge Julius Caesar Tuskahoma McLish

Voomo Zanzibar
Guest

Cocky
Lefty
Jimmie
Rickey

Cornelius can get a statue next to the mountain.

Lawrence Azrin
Guest

#64/ R HORNSBY’S FIELDING ABILITY –
In 1923, he started having problems with his equilibrium that affected his fielding ability for the rest of his career. It seems that he couldn’t go back for pop-ups, but the nature of his condition prevented him from playing other positions regularly for most of the rest of his career.

The team would cover for him on pop-ups he couldn’t get. Fielding WAR in B-R doesn’t draw a dramatic dividing line, but he seems to have gone from a very good defensive 2nd baseman to a merely adequate one.

Tmckelv
Guest
Andy, nice card choice. Great picture of the classic Reggie swing and the classic A’s uniforms, down to the white shoes. I always loved the 1974 Topps set for some reason. Even to the point I made my first major card collecting blunder. Sometime during the late 1970’s, my father gave me the choice of the 1973 or 1974 topps baseball sets as a birthday present (in November). My older brother wisely begged me to choose the 1973 set but I loved 1974 so much I couldn’t resist, so that is what I got. Unfortunately, before my brother’s birthday rolled… Read more »
tag
Guest
This one is easy for me. I’d go with Canseco, McGuire, LaRussa and Giambi. As they were dynamiting the granite into shape I’d pilfer plenty of the tri nitro toluene and lard their rock faces liberally with it, and then push the plunger the moment the monument was finished. It’s not that I didn’t like these guys or that I want to conduct a moral crusade against steroid users, but you are responsible for your actions and what they did was basically reduce a lot of baseball history to rubble (LaRussa is lumped in here for other crimes, the advent… Read more »
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