MLB Top 5: Oakland Athletics Outfielders and DHs

This is the fourth article in a series that looks at the five best players at each position for the Oakland Athletics. In this installment are the outfielders and designated hitters.

The Athletics franchise features multiple All-Stars, MVPs and Hall of Famers in its ranks of best outfielders. The production and versatility of several players on these lists would allow for several different looks in a lineup should an all-time A’s team ever take the field. The left and right sides are very deep while center field has decent depth but is top-heavy.

The Best Outfielders and Designated Hitters in Oakland Athletics History

Left Fielders

Honorable Mentions – Tully “Topsy” Hartsel was a speedy leadoff hitter despite his short, stocky frame. During his first season with the Athletics in 1902, he led the league with 109 runs, 47 steals and 87 walks, the first of five times he topped the circuit. Three years later, Hartsel led the A.L. with 121 walks, a league record that stood throughout the Dead Ball Era. He was also involved with one of the strangest plays in baseball history. The A’s and White Sox were battling for the pennant in late September. Of note in this story was the practice at the time of players leaving their gloves in the field when their team was hitting. Hartsel scored the winning run when his own glove slowed down a Harry Davis hit. In all, Philadelphia won four pennants and three championships during his 10-year tenure (1902-11). Hartsel ranks sixth in franchise history in stolen bases (196) and tied for eight in triples (74) to go with a .266 average, 686 runs, 1,087 hits, 154 doubles, 21 home runs, 266 RBIs and 1,452 total bases in 1,146 games. He was a player and manager with minor league and amateur teams in Toledo, Ohio, and worked several jobs in the area until his death in 1944 at age 40.

Clarence “Tillie” Walker was a former telegraph operator who had a solid first half of his career with the Browns and Red Sox before he was traded to the Athletics as part of deal for first baseman Stuffy McInnis. Walker found playing in Philadelphia’s Shibe Park more favorable, tying for the league lead with 11 home runs in his first season. His power numbers improved steadily every year, and he batted .304 with 23 homers and 101 RBIs in 1921 and posted a .283-37-99 stat line the following season. However, the team’s pitching was awful at the time and Walker and the Athletics never reached the postseason during his six-year tenure (1918-23). He finished with a .287 average, 394 runs, 771 hits, 131 doubles, 100 home runs, 410 RBIs and 1,260 total bases in 735 games. Walker played in several minor leagues and was an umpire until 1940. He worked as a highway patrolman in Tennessee until passing away at age 72 after suffering a heart attack in 1959.

5. Gus Zernial – He built strength by helping his father shingle roofs as a youth and lifting weights in the Navy while also working as a radio operator. Zernial played minor league ball in California, where he earned the nickname “Ozark Ike” after a comic strip character. He started his career with the White Sox and was traded to the Athletics four games into the 1951 season. He led the league in home runs and RBIs and started a string of three straight campaigns in which he had at least 25 homers and 100 runs batted in. Zernial broke his collarbone after tripping on a water spigot in the field, which caused him to miss most of the 1954 season. He returned to hit 30 home runs, but his average dropped, a trend that continued for his final three seasons, all with the team based in Kansas City.

Zernial was sent to the Tigers as part of a 13-player trade after the 1957 season, and he retired after two years spent primarily as a reserve. In seven seasons with the Athletics (1951-57), he had 447 runs, 806 hits, 115 doubles, 191 home runs (tenth in franchise history), 592 RBIs and 1,524 total bases in 888 games. Following his playing career, the 1953 All-Star worked at an auto leasing business, was a sports director at a radio and television station and kept busy playing golf and bowling and collecting sports memorabilia. Zernial passed away in 2011 at age 87.

4. Joe Rudi – He was a member of the “Mustache Gang” A’s that won three straight championships in the early 1970s. Rudi got to the major leagues in 1967 while the team was still in Kansas City but was a reserve for his first four seasons. He missed part of the season due to service duty with the Marines, and it was hard for him to get into a rhythm. Rudi made others take notice in 1972, earning his first All-Star selection and finishing as the runner-up in the MVP voting after batting .305 with 94 runs and league-leading totals of 181 hits and nine triples. He also homered and made a stellar defensive play during Game 2 of the World Series, which ended with a seven-game victory over the Reds. Rudi totaled eight runs, 36 hits, six doubles, three homers and 15 RBIs in 38 postseason contests.

Rudi’s production fell off a bit the following year due to injury, but he drove in seven runs during the playoffs, helping Oakland win its second straight title. He finished second in the MVP race again in 1974 after earning a second All-Star selection, winning his first of three straight gold gloves, leading the league with 39 doubles and setting career highs with 22 home runs and 99 runs batted in. He slumped during the ALCS but drove in four runs in a victory over the Dodgers. Rudi split the next two seasons between left field and first base, but still won two more gold gloves as an outfielder. When owner Charlie Finley tried to sell off him and others, Commissioner Bowie Kuhn stepped in and voided the moves.

Rudi drove in 94 runs then signed with the Angels in the offseason. He batted. 272 with 487 runs, 1,087 hits, 216 doubles, 116 home runs, 540 RBIs and 1,715 total bases in 1,107 games. After four productive but injury-plagued seasons with California and one disappointing year in Boston, he returned to Oakland to play first base for one final season. Chronic soreness in both Achilles tendons forced Rudi to retire after a full year on the disabled list in 1983. He coached the local high school team and rejoined the A’s as a hitting and outfield coach for two years. Rudi and his wife currently work in the real estate industry.

3. Bob Johnson – He was one of a pair of brothers who played in the major leagues (Roy spent 10 years with four different teams) after being born on an Oklahoma Indian reservation (leading to his “Indian Bob” nickname). Johnson was a firefighter in California while playing semipro and minor league baseball, eventually landing in Philadelphia. Thanks to a logjam of outfielders in the Athletics’ system, he didn’t make the team until 1933 when he was 27. Johnson responded to the callup by becoming one of the most consistently productive players in baseball, posting nine straight seasons with at least 20 home runs and 90 RBIs and driving in at least 100 runs on seven occasions.

Johnson earned five All-Star selections during his 10 seasons with the Athletics (1933-42), and he was one of the game’s better left fielders, winning two fielding titles and topping the league in putouts and assists four times each. He had arguably his best season at the plate in 1939, hitting 23 homers, driving in 114 runs and setting career highs with a .338 average, 115 runs and 184 hits to help him finish in the top 10 of the MVP voting. Although he made the All-Star team in 1942, Johnson had his worst season in Philadelphia, hitting just 13 home runs and driving in 80 runs.

Johnson and Connie Mack got into a dispute over an attendance bonus (Mack, in typical owner fashion, claimed that his own attendance numbers were inflated so he wouldn’t have to pay up) and the slugger was traded on the first day of spring training to the Senators. Although he did well against his former team (he drove in 19 runs against Philadelphia), he had a poor season overall and was shipped to Boston, where he spent his final two big league seasons. Johnson retired after the 1945 season, was a player and manager in the minors for the next four years, then spent more than a decade playing amateur baseball in Washington while holding jobs with an oil company, a construction company and a brewery. Johnson took care of his brother, Roy, as he battled alcoholism in his later years, and Bob passed away due to heart failure in 1982 at age 76.

2. Al Simmons – While he will top the center field rankings, he spent a majority of his career at this spot. Simmons took over full-time in left in 1928, a move that coincided with the team’s return to the top of the standings. He finished in the top 10 of the MVP race in his final four years with the Athletics, batting over .320 with at least 100 runs, 200 hits and 120 RBIs in each campaign. Simmons drove in 107 runs in 119 games in 1928, then followed that by beating .365 with 212 hits, 34 home runs and a league-leading 157 RBIs in 143 contests. He won batting titles in each of the next two seasons and finished second in the MVP voting in 1930 with a .381 average and career-best totals of 36 homers, 165 RBIs (second in team history) and 152 runs (also a league-best and team record). Simmons batted .390 in 1931 and led the A.L. with 216 hits the following year (although he “only” batted .322).

“Bucketfoot Al” was an intense competitor. Nowhere was this more obvious than in postseason play, where he batted .333 with 14 runs, 23 hits, five doubles, six home runs and 17 RBIs in 18 World Series games, helping his team win three straight pennants and two titles. However, a second-place finish in 1932, coupled with the team’s financial losses following the Great Depression, led to owner and manager Connie Mack selling off his greatest assets, including Simmons, who was sent to Chicago. The slick-hitting outfielder bounced around baseball for the rest of the decade. After playing in the first three All-Star Games with the White Sox, he also spent time with the Tigers, Senators, Braves and Reds.

Simmons was on the downside of his career when he returned to play 46 games over two seasons with the Athletics in the early 1940s. He spent most of this time as a coach under Mack but played 40 games with the Red Sox in 1943 after more players were drafted into World War II. Simmons came back to Philadelphia for one final four-game stretch the following year before retiring just 73 hits shy of 3,000. He coached with the Athletics until 1949 and spent two years with the Indians before leaving baseball for good.

Over his 12-year career with the Athletics (1924-32, 40-41 and ’44), eight of which was spent in left field, Simmons led the league twice in putouts and assists by a left fielder and won three fielding titles. He is the all-time franchise leader in batting average (.356), RBIs (1,179) and total bases (2,998), ranks second in hits (1,827), doubles (348) and triples 998), and he hit 209 home runs in 1,290 games. The 1953 Hall of Fame inductee died of an apparent heart attack in Milwaukee in 1956 at age 54.

1. Rickey Henderson – The Oakland native was drafted by his hometown team in the fourth round of the 1976 draft and went on to play in the major leagues for a quarter of a century. The game’s most aggressive baserunner came in just as the A’s were returning to prominence, and Henderson was a big reason why. During his initial six-year stint with the club, he was selected to four All-Star Games and was nearly unstoppable on the basepaths, leading the league in stolen bases five times, topping 100 on three occasions and setting a league record with 130 swipes in 1982 (St. Louis’ Lou Brock held the previous mark with 118 in 1974). The year before, he batted .319, led the A.L. with 89 runs, 135 hits and 56 steals in 108 games and won both the silver slugger and his only gold glove to finish second in the MVP voting in the strike-shortened season.

Henderson continued his stellar play after a trade to the Yankees before the 1985 season, earning four straight All-Star selections, three more stolen base crowns and a third-place finish in the MVP race in his first season after leading the league with 80 steals and an incredible 146 runs in 143 games. He spent most of his time in center field, stealing 93 bases in 1988, but New York was in the middle of the American League standings, so he was traded back to Oakland the following year. Henderson’s return to the Bay Area made a team noted for the “Bash Brothers” even more unbeatable. He was the MVP of the ALCS after batting .400 and stealing eight bases against the Blue Jays and swiped three more while rapping nine hits against the Giants in the World Series. Henderson had another stellar season in 1990, winning the MVP Award after setting career bests with a .325 average and 28 home runs, leading the league with 119 runs, 65 steals and a .439 on-base percentage, and driving in 61 runs.

Henderson became the “Man of Steal,” passing Brock atop the career stolen base list on April 28, 1991, when he swiped base number 939 in the fourth inning against the Yankees. After two more All-Star selections, he was traded by Oakland to Toronto, which was starting to rise in the American League. Henderson stole 22 bases in 44 regular season games and three more in the playoffs, helping the Blue Jays win their second straight title in 1993. He returned to the Athletics and spent two more seasons in his third tour of duty then, after stints with the Padres and Angels, came back for a fourth time as a 39-year-old in 1998 and led the league with 66 steals. Henderson had a disappointing stint with the Mets and played with the Mariners, Padres again, Red Sox and Dodgers, playing his final major league game in 2003. He played two more seasons with independent leagues before finally retiring.

The brash, cocky Henderson, who often referred to himself in the third person, spent a total of 14 years with the Athletics in four stints (1979-84, 89-93, 94-95 and ’98), and he is the all-time franchise leader in runs (1,270), steals (867) and walks (1,227). He also ranks second in games (1,704), third in hits (1,768), fourth in total bases (2,640) and sixth in doubles (289), strikeouts (915) and on-base percentage (.409) to go with a .288 average, 167 home runs and 648 RBIs. In addition, he led the league in stolen bases eight times while wearing the green and gold and holds the top three single-season totals in team history. Henderson currently holds major league records in stolen bases (1,406), runs (2,295), caught stealing (335) and home runs leading off a game (81). He was a coach for the Mets in 2007 and was voted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility in 2009.

Center Fielders

Honorable Mentions – Amos Strunk was a quick, defensive-minded player, who faced injuries throughout his 13 seasons with Philadelphia (1908-17, 19-20 and ’24). He was a member of an Athletics team that won four pennants and three titles in a five-year stretch, and he totaled five runs, nine hits and two RBIs in 12 playoff contests. While “Lightning” was not known as a base stealer, he won two fielding titles and perfected the “double squeeze” play in which he would take off from second as the pitch was thrown and score right behind the runner on third during a bunt attempt. Strunk ended his time in Philadelphia with a .283 average, 475 runs, 977 hits, 146 doubles, 69 triples, 352 RBIs, 144 stolen bases and 1,294 total bases in 1,029 games. He also spent time with the Red Sox and White Sox in between his three stints with the Athletics, retiring after the 1924 season. Strunk spent one year as a minor league player-manager but resigned due to leg injuries. Following his baseball career, he was an insurance broker and photographer for nearly 50 years. Strunk passed away in 1979 at age 90.

George “Mule” Haas couldn’t find a spot in a crowded Pirates outfield, but he found success within Pennsylvania with the Athletics, getting several clutch hits during his six-year tenure with the “Mackmen” (1928-32 and ’38). He batted .300 or better three times and had his best season in 1929, when he posted career highs with a .313 average, 115 runs, 181 hits, 41 doubles, nine triples, 16 home runs and 82 RBIs. Haas also hit a pair of home runs against the Cubs in the World Series. The following year, he began a run of six times in seven years leading the league in sacrifice hits for a team that won three straight pennants and two titles. Haas batted .302 with 427 runs, 761 hits, 154 doubles, 38 homers, 322 RBIs and 1,093 total bases in 647 games. Like many other stars with the Athletics, he was sold off (to the White Sox with Simmons and infielder Jimmy Dykes) to help the team cover its expenses. After five years in Chicago, Haas returned for one final season with Philadelphia in 1938. Following his playing career, he was a coach with Dykes in Chicago and made several minor league managerial stops. Haas was a high school athletic director in New Jersey. He suffered multiple strokes while driving to visit his son and passed away in 1974 at age 70.

Roger “Doc” Cramer earned his nickname because he went around with a local doctor on his house calls as a youth. He was discovered playing semipro ball by Athletics backup catcher Cy Perkins, who was umpiring the game, and spent the next seven years (1929-35) with Philadelphia. Cramer was a reserve in the first four years, bouncing back and forth between the minors and majors. His biggest moment was a two-run single during a Game 7 loss to the Cardinals in the 1931 World Series. Cramer got more playing time after the Athletics started selling off players, and he had his best season in 1933 when he batted .295 with 109 runs, 195 hits and career-high totals of eight home runs and 75 runs batted in. He hit over .300 with at least 200 hits in each of the next two seasons and made his only All-Star Game with Philadelphia in 1935.

Cramer batted .308 with 426 runs, 817 hits, 129 doubles, 263 RBIs and 1,072 total bases in 643 games. The Athletics traded him to the Red Sox the following year, and he earned four more All-Star selections with Boston. “Doc” also spent time with the Senators and Tigers, winning a title with Detroit in 1945. Following his retirement in 1948, he coached with the Tigers and White Sox before leaving baseball and spending most of the rest of his life as a carpenter. Cramer passed away in 1990 at age 85.

Rick Monday was selected by the Athletics with the first pick in the first amateur draft in 1965. He spent two years with the club while it was in Kansas City and the first four of its tenure in Oakland. Monday was an All-Star in 1968 after posting a .274-8-49 stat line in the team’s first season in its new home. During his six-year tenure with the A’s (1966-71), he totaled 285 runs, 542 hits, 62 home runs and 256 RBIs in 639 games. Monday was a member of a team that won the division title in 1971 but went 0-for-3 in his only appearance against the Orioles in the 1971 ALCS. He was traded to Cubs after the season and spent time with the Dodgers. Monday gained notoriety as a Cub in 1976 for grabbing an American flag from two protesters who were trying to set fire to it in the Dodger Stadium outfield. Following his retirement in 1984, he spent many years as a broadcaster with the Padres and Dodgers.

Bill North spent six of his 11 big league seasons with Oakland (1973-78) and was part of the team that won the World Series in 1973-74 (but was not on the postseason roster that first year due to a severely sprained ankle). He was an underrated performer who led the league in stolen bases twice and topped 50 three times with the Athletics. North had his best season, when he batted .276 with 91 runs, 31 RBIs and set career highs with 163 hits and 75 steals. The last player from Oakland’s championship days, North was traded to the Dodgers during the 1978 season and helped his new club win the pennant. He spent his final three years with the Giants and retired after a failed tryout with the Padres in 1982. North ranks fourth in Athletics franchise history with 232 stolen bases to go with a .271 average, 377 runs, 664 hits and 155 RBIs in 669 games. Following his playing career, he was a financial planner and hitting instructor for young players.

Covelli “Coco” Crisp got his nickname from his sister, who said he looked like a character on a cereal box. He was a draft pick of the Cardinals and spent time with the Indians, Red Sox and Royals before signing with the Athletics in 2010. Crisp was known as a speedy leadoff hitter, and he topped 30 steals in his first three years with Oakland, including a league-best 49 in 2011. His best season was 2013, when he won a fielding title and earned MVP votes for the only time in his career after batting .261 with 66 RBIs and career highs with 93 runs and 22 home runs. Crisp finished his seven-year stint with the Athletics (2010-16) with 405 runs, 701 hits, 139 doubles, 69 homers, 304 RBIs, 169 steals (tenth in franchise history) and 1,099 total bases in 734 games. He was a member of Boston’s 2007 title team and had eight runs, 13 hits, one home run and five RBIs in 11 playoff games with Oakland. Crisp finished his playing career with a second stint in Cleveland after a 2016 trade, and he has held several coaching, broadcasting and player development jobs and multiple levels in the game.

5. Dave Henderson – Known for his solid production and his gap-toothed smile, he was a first-round pick of the Mariners in 1977 and joined the new franchise four years later. Henderson was a dependable presence in the outfield until he was traded to the Red Sox during the stretch run in 1986. Arguably his greatest moment came during Game 5 of that season’s ALCS against the Angels. Henderson chased down a deep fly ball in the sixth inning, but when he hit the wall, the ball popped out of his glove and went over the fence for a go-ahead home run. He redeemed himself in the ninth, completing Boston’s comeback with a two-out go-ahead two-run homer off Donnie Moore. California tied it in the bottom of the inning, but Henderson won the game with a sacrifice fly in the 11th and Boston won the next two games to reach the World Series. He added 10 hits and two home runs in the championship series, but the Red Sox fell to the Mets in seven games.

“Hendu” signed to be part of Oakland’s crowded outfield in 1988 and responded with arguably his best season, amassing 154 hits, smacking 24 homers and setting career highs with 100 runs, 94 runs batted in and a .304 average. His average dropped over the rest of his A’s tenure, but he was still a valuable power hitter and run producer for a team that reached the World Series three straight times (he hit two homers in the victory over the Giants in 1989). Henderson earned his only All-Star selection in 1991, when he posted career-bests with 158 hits and 25 home runs. However, an injury-riddled two years followed, and he spent his final season with the Royals in 1994, thanks to a hip injury and the players’ strike. Henderson had 366 runs, 672 hits, 143 doubles, 104 homers, 377 RBIs and 1,135 total bases in 702 games. In the playoffs, he totaled 15 runs, 25 hits, four home runs and 11 RBIs in 24 postseason contests. “Hendu” was a broadcaster with the Mariners before undergoing kidney transplant surgery in late 2015. Before the end of the year, he had a heart attack and died at age 57.

4. Rube Oldring – He played eight games for the New York Highlanders (later the Yankees) in 1905, then joined the Athletics, where he became a fixture in the outfield for 12 seasons (1906-16 and ’18) after moving from third base. He was a solid contact hitter with speed who was a productive and popular player on a team that won four pennants and three titles in a five-year stretch (although he did not play during the 1910 World Series). Oldring had the biggest moment of his career when he hit a three-run homer in Game 5 in 1911, but his best season was his first in left field in 1913, when he batted .283 with five home runs and set career highs with 101 runs, 152 hits, 71 RBIs and 40 stolen bases.

Philadelphia began selling off its most talented players after its run of success, but Oldring hung on for another season before he was released and returned to New York. After he was released by the Yankees, he sat out the 1917 season to tend to his farm in New Jersey but returned for one more year with the Athletics, appearing in 49 contests. Oldring ranks seventh in franchise history in triples (75) and steals (187), and he batted .271 with 597 runs, 1,222 hits, 197 doubles, 25 homers, 453 RBIs and 1,644 total bases in 1,188 games. He was not as successful in the playoffs, batting just .194 with seven runs, 12 hits and that home run in 15 postseason appearances. Oldring played baseball in the Navy shipyards during World War I, was the player-manager for several minor league teams and was a crop evaluator. He suffered a heart attack and passed away in 1960 at age 77.

3. Dwayne Murphy – He forged a solid major league career as a spectacular fielder and the second-place hitter in the Oakland batting order behind Rickey Henderson. Although he missed out on the Athletics’ run of three straight American League pennants in the later part of the decade, he was around for the team’s playoff run in 1981, totaling four runs, eight hits, one home run and three RBIs in six games, helping the A’s reach the ALCS in the strike-shortened season. Murphy improved his power and production as he reached his prime, earning MVP consideration during the playoff season and winning six straight gold gloves. His best offensive year was 1984, when he had 143 hits and 88 RBIs and set career highs with 93 runs and 33 homers.

Murphy finished his decade in Oakland (1978-87) with 614 runs, 999 hits, 129 doubles, 153 home runs, 563 RBIs and 1,627 total bases in 1,213 games. He spent one year each with the Tigers and Phillies and another in Japan before retiring in 1990. Murphy spent most of the next two decades as a coach and instructor with the Diamondbacks (he was the hitting coach during their 2001 title season), Blue Jays and Rangers.

2. Sam Chapman – He chose baseball over football despite being an All-American football standout at the University of California and a draft pick of the Washington Redskins. Chapman was a solid hitter and fielder who spent his entire career with the Athletics, except for a brief run with the Indians in his final season. He earned MVP consideration in 1941 thanks to a career year in which he set personal bests with a .322 average, 97 runs, 178 hits and 25 home runs to go with 106 runs batted in. Chapman spent most of the next four years in the Navy, piloting a fighter plan and serving as a flight instructor during World War II.

“Sleepy Sam” (nicknamed because of his temperament) earned his only All-Star selection upon his return from duty in 1946 and three years later, he posted a .278-24-108 stat line, with the RBI total being a career-high. He had one more solid season and was traded to Cleveland in 1951, playing 94 games before he retired. In 11 seasons with the Athletics (1938-41, 45-51), Chapman batted .268 with 730 runs, 1,237 hits, 201 doubles, 51 triples, 174 home runs, 737 RBIs and 2,098 total bases in 1,274 games. The 1948 fielding champion played minor league ball in California for three years, then worked as an air pollution control inspector in the Bay Area, where his former team would eventually call home beginning in 1968. Chapman passed away in 2006 at age 90.

1. Al Simmons – While he spent more of his career on the left side, he began his career with four stellar seasons in center field. Born Alois Szymanski, he had a tough upbringing, coming from a poor family of Polish immigrants, with his father not taking too kindly to his wanting to pursue baseball. Nicknamed “Bucketfoot Al” because of his unusual batting stance in which the right-handed hitter’s left foot was pointed toward third base, Simmons was a highly competitive player who liked to work during games and drink afterward.

Simmons starred in Philadelphia for his first nine seasons, batting over .300 with at least 150 hits and 100 RBIs in each of them. After driving in 102 runs as a rookie, he batted .387 in 1925 with 122 runs, 24 home runs, 129 RBIs and league-leading totals of 392 total bases and 253 hits (the fifth-best single-season total in baseball history) to finish second in the MVP voting. The following year, Simmons smacked 199 hits, including a club-record 53 doubles. Simmons batted a career-high .392 in his final season at the position in 1927 while driving in 108 runs in just 106 games.

Over his four years as a full-time center fielder, Simmons batted .355 with 367 runs, 794 hits, 163 doubles, 66 home runs, 449 RBIs and 1,239 total bases in 558 games. Over his 12 seasons with the Athletics, he batted .300 or better 10 times, totaled at least 100 runs, 200 hits and 20 homers five times each and topped 40 doubles and 350 total bases four times apiece. Simmons spent five more years as Philadelphia’s left fielder on three straight pennant-winning teams, then bounced around to six other clubs and had two other stints with the Athletics. He spent several years on Connie Mack’s coaching staff and two more with the Indians before retiring from baseball in 1951. The three-time All-Star and two-time batting champion was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on the tenth try in 1953 and died of a heart attack three years later in Milwaukee at age 54.

Right Fielders

Honorable Mentions – Ralph “Socks” Seybold earned acclaim for his fielding playing for several amateur, independent and minor league clubs in Pennsylvania throughout the 1890s. After a brief callup with the Reds in 1899 and spending the following year in the minors, Seybold was the final signing for Connie Mack‘s new American League team in Philadelphia in before the start of the 1901 season. He was a talented hitter in the second spot in the batting order, batting .334 with 90 RBIs in his team’s first campaign. Seybold’s 16 home runs the following year set a league record that stood until Babe Ruth came along, and he led the league with 45 doubles in 1903. He was a strong contributor on a team that won two pennants, but a broken leg derailed a promising career. In eight seasons (1901-08), Seybold batted .296 with 465 runs, 1,066 hits, 213 doubles, 51 homers, 548 RBIs and 1,538 total bases in 975 games. He coached minor league and semipro teams until he died after suffering a broken neck in a car accident in 1921.

Danny Murphy split his 12-year Athletics career (1902-13) between second base and this spot, and he was the starting right fielder on a team that won three titles in his final four seasons. He hit the only home run during the 1910 World Series and added six runs, eight hits and nine RBIs in the victory over the Cubs. The following year, he set career highs with a .329 average and 104 runs to go with 167 hits, six homers, 66 RBIs and 22 steals. Murphy suffered from a broken kneecap and a sore arm in his final two seasons and played in just 76 games. He retired after playing two years in the Federal League, coached in the minors and returned as a coach for the Athletics from 1920-25. Murphy ran a hardware store and worked at a hospital. He passed away in 1955.

Matt Stairs was the epitome of the term “journeyman,” playing for 12 teams during a 19-year career. His five years with the Athletics (1996-2000) was the most spent with any one team, and his production was by far the best in Oakland. Stairs hit 20 or more home runs in a season six times, with four coming in the Bay Area. Both times he drove in more than 100 runs, he did so wearing green and gold, including his best season in 1999, when he posted a .258-38-102 stat line. The Canadian-born slugger batted .268 with 339 runs, 542 hits, 109 doubles, 122 homers, 385 RBIs and 1,027 total bases in 632 games. Stairs retired in 2011 and worked as a coach and broadcaster, mostly with the Phillies. He now coaches high school ice hockey in New Brunswick province in his home country.

Josh Reddick was a Red Sox draft pick who was traded to the Athletics before the 2012 season. He starred for his new team, setting career highs with 156 games, 32 home runs and 85 runs batted in while earning MVP votes and winning a gold glove for the only time in his career. The rest of his five seasons in Oakland (2012-16) were affected by multiple wrist injuries, which resulted in surgery. “Red Dawg” finished with 292 runs, 546 hits, 100 doubles, 84 homers and 300 RBIs in 596 games. With the Athletics. He was traded to the Dodgers in 2016 and spent the next four years with the Astros, winning a pair of titles. Reddick played his last major league games with the Diamondbacks in 2021, then spent time in Mexico and Australia before retiring in 2023.

5. Wally Moses – He was a productive hitter and stellar fielder during his two stints in Philadelphia (1935-41 and 49-51). Moses hit better than .300 every year during his first run, including 1936, when he batted a career-best .345 and collected 98 runs and 202 hits. The following year, he was an All-Star for the only time with the Athletics after hitting .320 and setting career highs with 113 runs, 208 hits, 48 doubles, 25 home runs and 86 runs batted in. Moses was one of the few bright spots on a team that would regularly finish at the bottom of the American League standings for its final 20 seasons before moving.

The strong-armed outfielder was good enough to get on the cover of a Wheaties box but was traded to the White Sox one year after injuring his shoulder in a car accident. Moses played in the 1946 World Series with the Red Sox and returned to the Athletics for his final three seasons, finishing with a .307 average, 707 runs, 1,316 hits, 274 doubles (ninth in franchise history), 63 triples, 64 home runs, 409 RBIs and 1,908 total bases in 1,168 games. Following his playing career, he spent more than 20 years as a coach with multiple franchises until retiring for good in 1975. Moses was a lifelong smoker and developed lung problems later in life, even having his lung removed after developing cancer. He passed away in 1990, two days after his 80th birthday.

4. Elmer Valo – He was born in what was then known as Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia) and his father fought in the Austro-Hungarian army during World War I. The family moved to Pennsylvania after the war and he took up baseball, signing with the Athletics even before graduating high school. Valo was inconsistent his first few years, but he got much better after returning from World War II, where he mostly played baseball while being in the Army’s Medical Administration Corps. He became a solid hitter, batting over .300 five times in 15 seasons with the Athletics (1940-43 and 46-56), and he also was a stellar fielder. In 1949, Valo batted .283 and set career highs with 86 runs, 155 hits and 85 RBIs, and he received MVP consideration in 1955, when he hit .364 while playing left field in the team’s first season in Kansas City.

Valo’s final years with the Athletics were plagued by injuries, mostly after he crashed into walls chasing down fly balls. He was released early in the 1956 season and signed with the Phillies a week later. One of the most quiet and modest players in the game spent his final five years with five teams, two of which also moved like the Athletics (the Dodgers from Brooklyn to Los Angeles and the Senators/Twins franchise from Washington to Minnesota). After his retirement in 1961, Valo served as a scout for the 1962 Mets, a coach and minor league manager for the Indians and a scout, public relations worker and minor league instructor with the Phillies for more than 15 years. He passed away in 1998 at age 77.

3. Edmund “Bing” Miller – The Iowa native started as a pitcher before an arm injury in the minor leagues forced his switch to the outfield. Miller spent a year in France with the Army during World War I and was moved from the Senators to the Athletics in a three-team trade also involving the Red Sox following the 1921 season. He was the primary starter in a different outfield spot in each of the next three years and had one of his best years in his first season with Philadelphia, batting .335 with 179 hits, 90 RBIs and setting career highs with 90 runs and 21 home runs. In all, Miller hit .300 or better eight times as a member of the Athletics. He was traded to the Browns in 1926 but returned to his previous stop at the end of the following season.

Miller took over as the Athletics’ full-time right fielder upon his return, and he was an integral part of a team that won three straight pennants and two championships from 1929-31. In the first of those years, he batted .331 with 84 runs, 93 RBIs and posted career bests with 184 hits, 16 triples and 24 stolen bases. Miller continued his stellar play with seven hits in the World Series, none bigger than a run-scoring double off the outfield scoreboard in Game 5 that gave the Athletics a 4-1 series victory over the Cubs after being down 2-0 heading into the ninth inning. He had arguably his best offensive season in 1930, batting in .303, scoring 89 runs and driving in a career-high 100, then added three more to his total in a championship series win against the Cardinals.

Following three years of stellar play, the Athletics began to fade in the standings and the team was hurting after the Great Depression, forcing owner and manager Connie Mack to sell off his best players. Miller went to the Red Sox in 1935 and spent his final two years as a pinch hitter and backup outfielder. Following his playing career, he spent nearly 20 years as a coach, ending with the Athletics in 1954, their final season in Philadelphia. During his time with the A’s, Miller ranked fifth in franchise history in doubles (292), tied for eight in triples (74), ninth in hits (1,480), tied for ninth in games (1,361) and RBIs (762) and tenth in average (.311) and total bases (2,202) to go with 719 runs, 94 home runs and 109 steals. He died at age 71 from injuries sustained in a car accident while driving home from a Phillies game in 1966.

2. Jose Canseco – He is one of the most talented, erratic and controversial figures in the game’s history. The Cuban-born Canseco was one of the most talked-about prospects as he quickly worked his way through Oakland’s minor league system, getting called up to the big-league club in 1985. The following season, he was an All-Star and won the Rookie of the Year Award after hitting 33 home runs and driving in 117 RBIs. Overall, he earned five All-Star selections and reached the 30-100 mark five teams each during his nine years with Oakland (1985-92 and ’97). During the early part of his career, he was drawing comparisons to some of baseball’s greatest players. He won the MVP Award in 1988 after setting career highs with a .307 average, 120 runs and 187 hits, and leading the league with 42 homers, 124 RBIs and a .569 slugging percentage. Canseco also stole a career-best 40 bases, making him the first member of the 40-40 club (a feat since accomplished four other times). He also had four home runs and nine RBIs in the playoffs to lead the A’s to the World Series.

In 1989, Canseco faced adversity. He was rumored to be using steroids (although it had not been proven at that point), had several run-ins with law enforcement (including a pair of gun possession incidents) and suffered multiple wrist injuries. Canseco returned in time to help his team win its first championship in more than a decade, and he was part of a “Bash Brothers” pairing with Mark McGwire that polarized the baseball world in the late 1980s. Canseco returned to form over the next two years, earning MVP votes and leading the league with 44 home runs in 1991. However, all people wanted to talk about with his late-night fling with pop icon Madonna. The allegations did not help his marriage, and he went to counseling after ramming his Porsche into his wife’s BMW (ah, rich person problems). The bad press was finally too much for the Athletics, and they traded their slugger to the Rangers in 1992. He returned five years later for one season as a designated hitter, but mostly bounced around baseball, playing with seven teams over his final nine seasons.

Canseco finished his Oakland career ranked second in franchise history in strikeouts (1,096), fourth in home runs (254), sixth in RBIs (793) and ninth in slugging percentage (.507) to go with a .264 average, 662 runs, 1,048 hits, 186 doubles, 135 stolen bases and 2,012 total bases in 1,058 games. In addition to his Rookie of the Year and MVP awards, he was a five-time All-Star and won three silver sluggers. A slew of off-field issues followed him, including domestic violence, an assault at a bar and several drug possession charges. However, his biggest controversy involved steroids. Canseco wrote a tell-all book called Juiced about the rampant use of PEDs in baseball. In the book, he details his own use (which started while he was still in the minor leagues) and providing steroids to others (including McGwire). Canseco played his last baseball with the White Sox in 2001 and had 462 homers and 1,407 RBIs in his 17-year career. He played in various amateur and independent league teams, as well as professionally in Mexico and Canada, but has largely stayed out of the limelight except for the occasional celebrity boxing match.

1. Reggie Jackson – He replaced Monday as a starter at Arizona State, then followed him to the Athletics after he was taken second overall in the 1966 draft. Jackson was part of a class of young players who moved quickly through the minor leagues and became key pieces of a team that found great success in the early part of the 1970s. He got a brief call-up at the end of the 1967 season, which was the team’s final one in Kansas City, then became one of baseball’s most feared power hitters once the A’s moved to Oakland. Jackson earned his first All-Star selection in 1969, batting .275 and setting career highs with 47 home runs, 118 RBIs, 123 runs and a .608 slugging percentage, with those last two stats leading the American League. His numbers dropped the following year after going through a divorce, but he rebounded to earn All-Star selections in each of the next five seasons.

The Athletics reached the playoffs every year in the first half of the decade, and Jackson was an integral part of the lineup. He hit at least 25 home runs (or “dingers,” as he called them) in each season for a team that succeeded thanks to a solid offense and incredible starting pitching. Jackson had his best season in 1973, winning the MVP Award after batting .293 with 22 stolen bases and a career-best 158 hits and leading the league with 99 runs, 32 homers, 117 RBIs and a .531 slugging percentage. He continued his stellar play in the World Series. After missing the previous year’s title victory over the Reds after tearing his hamstring in the ALCS, Jackson drove in six runs and had nine hits, including a home run in Game 7, winning series MVP honors and helping the A’s beat the Mets for their second straight championship.

In all, Jackson finished in the top five of the MVP voting four times, reaching the 30-homer plateau four times. The slugger and the team continued their solid play despite having a contentious relationship with one another and owner Charlie Finley. He was traded to the Orioles a week before Opening Day in 1976 and signed a record contract with the Yankees the following year. Despite having trouble with teammates, manager Billy Martin and the New York media, Jackson was selected to the All-Star Team in each of his five seasons in pinstripes and finished second in the MVP voting in 1980. However, his most memorable experience was in Game 6 of the 1977 World Series. The Yankees were up 3-2 in the series but were trailing the Dodgers when Jackson over. He hit three homers and drove in five runs, leading his team to a title-clinching victory, winning his second World Series MVP Award and earning the nickname “Mr. October.”

Jackson won another title with the Yankees the following year, then spent five seasons with the Angels before finishing his career back in Oakland in 1987. He earned six All-Star selections in 10 years in the Bay Area (1967-75 and ’87), and he finished his run ranked third in franchise history in home runs (269) and eighth in RBIs (776) and total bases (2,323) to go with a .262 average, 756 runs, 1,228 hits, 234 doubles and 145 stolen bases in 1,346 games. “Mr. October” appeared in 32 postseason contests with the Athletics, totaling 10 runs, 32 hits, seven doubles, five homers and 15 runs batted in. Other than his attitude, which was surly at times, Jackson’s biggest drawback was his strikeout total. He led the league in the category five times and holds records for the franchise (1,226) and Major League Baseball (2,597).

Thanks to a 21-year career that included 563 home runs, 1,702 RBIs and 2,584 hits, Jackson was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1993. He was a broadcaster and hitting coach for the Athletics and a special advisor for the Yankees and then the Astros following his retirement. Jackson had several business ventures and appeared in several movies and television shows during his career, most notably in the 1988 film The Naked Gun: From the Files of Police Squad!

Designated Hitters

5. John Jaha – He was a popular but injury-plagued player (especially a torn Achilles) throughout his 10-year career, seven spent with the Brewers and the final three with the Athletics (1999-2001). Jaha earned his only All-Star selection in his first season with Oakland after batting .276 with 93 runs, 111 RBIs and 35 home runs, which tied the team record by a DH at the time. Following his retirement, he ran a sports facility in his native Oregon.

4. Geronimo Berroa – While he was not an All-Star like Jaha, he had a better overall career in green and gold, batting .293 with 283 runs, 507 hits, 87 home runs and 301 RBIs in 463 games over four seasons (1994-97). Berroa played with nine teams during an 11-year career, but he had his greatest success with Oakland. His best season was 1996, when he posted a .290 average and set career highs with 101 runs, 170 hits, 36 homers and 106 runs batted in. “The Chief” ranks tenth in franchise history with a .499 slugging percentage. He played in Korea and Mexico, was a three-time winner of the Caribbean Series and is a member of the Caribbean Baseball Hall of Fame.

3. Harold Baines – Although most of his 22-year career was spent with the White Sox, he had a three-year stint with the Athletics at the start of his foray at the position thanks to a knee injury that would eventually lead to eight surgeries. Baines was traded from Texas to Oakland at the end of the 1990 season, and he hit a home run in a losing effort against the Reds in the World Series. He was an All-Star the following year and hit another homer in the 1992 ALCS, but the A’s lost to the eventual champion Blue Jays. Baines batted .293 with 39 home runs and 187 RBIs in 313 regular season games with Oakland and added nine runs, 17 hits and nine RBIs in 13 postseason contests. The six-time All-Star and two-time Designated Hitter of the Year Award winner hit 384 homers and drove in 1,628 runs during his long career, but he has been one of the most debated editions to the Baseball Hall of Fame since his induction by the Veterans Committee in 2019.

2. Dave Kingman – The former college champion at USC had a strikeout-prone but still productive 16-year with seven teams. After earning three All-Star selections and two home run crowns, Kingman spent his final three seasons (1984-86) with Oakland, bashing at least 30 homers in each season. His best year was his first in the green and gold when he earned MVP consideration after batting .268 with 35 home runs and a career-high 118 runs batted in while also winning the Designated Hitter of the Year Award. He finished his time with the Athletics totaling 100 homers and 303 RBIs in 449 games. Despite hitting 442 home runs and driving in 1,210 runs during his career, his 236 average and 1,816 strikeouts stand out to observers, even though they would not be out of place in today’s game. “Kong” retired after a failed tryout with the Giants in 1987. He currently operates a tennis club in the Lake Tahoe area.

1. Khris Davis – Like Jaha, he got his start with the Brewers but had his greatest success with the Athletics. Davis had three straight seasons with at least 40 home runs and 100 RBIs, and he batted exactly .247 in four straight campaigns. His best year was 2018, when he won the Edgar Martinez Award (as best DH) after posting career highs with 98 runs, 142 hits and 123 RBIs and leading the league with 48 home runs. Davis’ production fell off over his final two seasons in Oakland and he was traded to Texas. The Rangers released him, and he returned to the Athletics for his final 20 games. In six seasons with the A’s (2016-2020 and ’21), “Khrush” totaled 347 runs, 555 hits, 159 home runs and 423 RBIs in 637 games, but he batted just .240 with 723 strikeouts (including 197 in 2008, which ranks second in franchise history). In eight playoff games, he had seven hits, four home runs and six runs batted in. Davis played in Mexico and the independent Atlantic League after his major league career and retired in May 2024.

Upcoming Stories

Oakland Athletics Catchers and Managers
Oakland Athletics First and Third Basemen
Oakland Athletics Second Basemen and Shortstops
Oakland Athletics Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Oakland Athletics Pitchers – coming soon

Previous Series

A look back at the New York Yankees

New York Yankees Catchers and Managers
New York Yankees First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
New York Yankees Second Basemen and Shortstops
New York Yankees Outfielders
New York Yankees Pitchers

A look back at the New York Mets

New York Mets Catchers and Managers
New York Mets First and Third Basemen
New York Mets Second Basemen and Shortstops
New York Mets Outfielders
New York Mets Pitchers

A look back at the Minnesota Twins

Minnesota Twins Catchers and Managers
Minnesota Twins First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Minnesota Twins Second Basemen and Shortstops
Minnesota Twins Outfielders
Minnesota Twins Pitchers

A look back at the Milwaukee Brewers

Milwaukee Brewers Catchers and Managers
Milwaukee Brewers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Milwaukee Brewers Second Basemen and Shortstops
Milwaukee Brewers Outfielders
Milwaukee Brewers Pitchers

A look back at the Miami Marlins

Miami Marlins Catchers and Managers
Miami Marlins First and Third Basemen
Miami Marlins Second Basemen and Shortstops
Miami Marlins Outfielders
Miami Marlins Pitchers

A look back at the Los Angeles Dodgers

A look back at the Los Angeles Angels

Los Angeles Angels Catchers and Managers
Los Angeles Angels First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Los Angeles Angels Second Basemen and Shortstops
Los Angeles Angels Outfielders
Los Angeles Angels Pitchers

A look back at the Kansas City Royals

Kansas City Royals Catchers and Managers
Kansas City Royals First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Kansas City Royals Second Basemen and Shortstops
Kansas City Royals Outfielders
Kansas City Royals Pitchers

A look back at the Houston Astros

Houston Astros Catchers and Managers
Houston Astros First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Houston Astros Second Basemen and Shortstops
Houston Astros Outfielders
Houston Astros Pitchers

A look back at the Detroit Tigers

Detroit Tigers Catchers and Managers
Detroit Tigers First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Detroit Tigers Second Basemen and Shortstops
Detroit Tigers Outfielders
Detroit Tigers Pitchers

A look back at the Colorado Rockies

Colorado Rockies Catchers and Managers
Colorado Rockies First and Third Basemen
Colorado Rockies Second Basemen and Shortstops
Colorado Rockies Outfielders
Colorado Rockies Pitchers

A look back at the Cleveland Guardians

Cleveland Guardians Catchers and Managers
Cleveland Guardians First and Third Basemen and Designated Hitters
Cleveland Guardians Second Basemen and Shortstops
Cleveland Guardians Outfielders
Cleveland Guardians Pitchers

A look back at the Cincinnati Reds

A look back at the Chicago White Sox

Chicago Cubs Catchers and Managers
Chicago Cubs First and Third Basemen
Chicago Cubs Second Basemen and Shortstops
Chicago Cubs Outfielders
Chicago Cubs Pitchers

A look back at the Boston Red Sox

Boston Red Sox Catchers and Managers
Boston Red Sox First and Third Basemen
Boston Red Sox Second Basemen and Shortstops
Boston Red Sox Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Boston Red Sox Pitchers

A look back at the Baltimore Orioles

Baltimore Orioles Catchers and Managers
Baltimore Orioles First and Third Basemen
Baltimore Orioles Second Basemen and Shortstops
Baltimore Orioles Outfielders and Designated Hitters
Baltimore Orioles Pitchers

A look back at the Atlanta Braves

Atlanta Braves Catchers and Managers
Atlanta Braves First and Third Basemen
Atlanta Braves Second Basemen and Shortstops
Atlanta Braves Outfielders
Atlanta Braves Pitchers

A look back at the Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks Catchers and Managers
Arizona Diamondbacks First and Third Basemen
Arizona Diamondbacks Second Basemen and Shortstops
Arizona Diamondbacks Outfielders
Arizona Diamondbacks Pitchers

Main Image: Stephen Brashear-USA TODAY Sports

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