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Oakland A's: 50 Greatest Players, Part 4 of 10

Kevin KraczkowskiCorrespondent IIINovember 10, 2011

Oakland A's: 50 Greatest Players, Part 4 of 10

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    The A's have nine World Series Championships, 14 AL Championships and 23 playoff appearances to their credit.

    In 111 seasons and three cities, the Athletics have seen 1,778 players come and go.  Some for one game, some for a few seasons, a few for a decade or more.

    The 50 best Athletics of all time represent less than three percent of all the players to lace up their cleats for the franchise.

    In recent years, advanced statistical analysis has reached the point where it has become possible to rate all players one against the other, pitcher, outfielder, catcher and designated hitter.

    This list was compiled from data culled from www.baseball-reference.com, namely the "Wins Above Replacement" statistic.  The following are ascending from 35-31.

35. Catfish Hunter (1965-1974, WAR: 23.9)

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    Catfish Hunter is a right handed pitcher and a member of the Pro Baseball Hall of Fame, Class of 1987.

    Hunter started his Major League career by signing a free agent contract with the Kansas City Athletics in 1964.  As a rookie in 1965, he posted an 8-8 record.

    Despite a combined 22-28 record, Hunter was selected to play in the All-Star game in both 1966 and 1967.  He made the squad on the strength of his 3.30 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP.

    In 1968, Hunter pitched a perfect game against the Minnesota Twins, posting a 4-0 victory.  He went 3-4 with a double and 3 RBI's in the contest.

    From 1970 through 1974, Hunter posted a 106-49 record with a 2.89 ERA and a 1.072 WHIP, making the All-Star game four more times and winning the 1974 AL Cy Young award.

    Hunter joined the New York Yankees in 1975 and played with them through 1979.  He totalled a 161-113 record for the A's, with a career 3.13 ERA and a 1.126 WHIP.

    Counting his time with the Yankees, Hunter was a member of the World Champions on five occasions.

34. Eddie Joost (1947-1954, WAR: 23.9)

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    Joost, a shortstop for the A's, played for six seasons with the Cincinnati Reds and two seasons with the Boston Braves before having the best seasons of his career with the Philadelphia Athletics.

    Joost was a patient hitter and walked 768 times in 4,210 plate appearances for the Athletics, resulting in a .392 OBP.  He only struck out 543 times in 917 Philadelphia games.

    He was twice selected to the All-Star teams, in 1949 and in 1952. 

    Over eight seasons with the A's, Joost hit .249 with 116 home runs and 435 RBI's.  He joined the Boston Red Sox for his final big league season in 1955.

33. Stuffy McInnis (1909-1917, WAR: 23.9)

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    McInnis signed a free agent contract with Philadelphia in 1908.  Over his first two seasons in a limited role, he hit .277 in 57 games for the A's. 

    Starting in 1911, McInnis saw his impact on the team increase.  From 1911-1914, McInnis received AL MVP votes, hitting .322 with 363 RBI's and 91 stolen bases.

    He finished each of his final six Philadelphia seasons in the league top 10 for batting average.

    McInnis also made a name for himself due to his fielding consistency at first base. 

    He left the team for the Boston Red Sox in 1918 and later appeared for the Cleveland Indians, the Boston Braves, the Pittsburgh Pirates and the Philadelphia Phillies.  Later, he went into coaching baseball, with Norwich University, Cornell and Harvard.

32. Rube Walberg (1923-1933, WAR: 24.2)

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    Walberg, a lefty, debuted with the New York (baseball) Giants in 1923.  Philadelphia picked him up after the Giants sent him back to the minors.

    His first three years with the club saw Walberg post a 12-22 record with an ERA over 4. 

    For the next seven seasons, Walberg posted double digit wins and a winning record in each season, regularly finishing in the AL top ten in wins, strikeouts, and games pitched.  He led the AL in innings pitched in 1931 with 291.0, posting a career high 20 wins.

    Altogether, Walberg was 134-114 for Philadelphia.  In 412 games, he posted a 4.11 ERA along with 27 saves.

    Later, he played four seasons for the Boston Red Sox.

31. Elmer Valo (1940-1943, 1946-1956, WAR: 24.4)

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    Born in Czechoslovakia, Valo signed a free agent contract with the Philadelphia Athletics as a 17-year-old outfielder in 1938.  He first joined the parent club in 1940, hitting .348 over six games.

    Valo joined the club full time in 1942 and hit .240 with 58 RBI over the next two seasons.  After a two year stint in the US Army and a commission to second lieutenant, Valo rejoined the club in 1946.

    Valo demonstrated extraordinary patience at the plate, walking 820 times while only striking out 222 times over his A's career, resulting in a career OBP of .403.  His best season was 1955, when he hit a career best .364 in 112 games.

    For his A's career, Valo hit .285 with 491 RBI.  He also played for the Philadelphia Phillies, the Brooklyn/Los Angeles Dodgers, the Cleveland Indians, the New York Yankees and the Washington Senators/Minnesota Twins.

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