Oakland A's: 50 Greatest Players, Part 5 of 10

Kevin KraczkowskiCorrespondent IIINovember 12, 2011

Oakland A's: 50 Greatest Players, Part 5 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 30-26.

30. Gene Tenace (1969-1976, WAR: 24.8)

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    Tenace was selected by the Kansas City Athletics in the 20th round of the 1965 amateur draft.  He would not appear for the club until after they had relocated to Oakland.

    He started at catcher and at first base for Oakland as required.  He made his first appearance with the club in 1969, hitting .158 in 16 games, serving as a backup catcher with the team until after their first World Series title.

    Starting in 1973, Tenace was in the lineup almost every day.  He collected in excess of 20 home runs in each of their next four seasons.

    In 1974, Tenace hit a career low (among qualifiers) .211, but led the AL with 110 walks, resulting in a respectable .367 OBP.  1975 saw him invited to his first (and only) All-Star appearance.

    In 805 games for Oakland, Tenace hit .245 with 121 home runs and 389 RBI. 

    He later played for the San Diego Padres, the St. Louis Cardinals and the Pittsburgh Pirates.

29. Terry Steinbach (1986-1996, WAR: 24.8)

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    Steinbach was selected by Oakland in the ninth round of the 1983 draft out of the University of Minnesota.

    A catcher, Steinbach first appeared for the club in 1986, making the team permanently in 1987.  He hit for a solid .275 career batting average with Oakland.  He was a three time AL All-Star team selectee.

    His best season with the club was in 1996, when he hit 35 home runs and 100 RBI.  Previously, his career highs were 16 home runs, in 1987, and 67 RBI, in 1991.

    Steinbach played the final three seasons of his playing career with the Minnesota Twins starting in 1997.

    He currently coaches at Wayzata High School in Plymouth, Minnesota.

28. Carney Lansford (1983-1992, WAR: 26.7)

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    The California Angels originally selected Lansford with their third round draft pick in the 1975 draft.  He would play with the Angels for three seasons followed by two with the Boston Red Sox before joining Oakland in 1983.

    Lansford was the Athletic's everyday third baseman for the balance of the next ten seasons, appearing in 1,203 games for Oakland.  In 1988, Lansford earned his only All-Star invitation by hitting .279 with 57 RBI and 29 stolen bases.

    He enjoyed his best offensive season in 1989, hitting an AL second best of .336 while stealing 37 bases.

    In total, Lansford hit .288 with 94 home runs over ten Oakland seasons.  He also collected 548 RBI and 146 stolen bases.  He is currently on the Colorado Rockies coaching staff.

27. Jose Canseco (1985-1992, 1997, WAR: 27.8)

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    Canseco was selected by Oakland in the 15th round of the 1982 draft.  He made his first appearance with the club in 1985, hitting .302 in 29 games.

    In 1986, Canseco made his first All-Star appearance and also took home the AL Rookie of the Year award by hitting .240 with 33 home runs and 117 RBI.

    In 1988, Canseco joined the 40/40 club by leading the AL with 42 home runs and 40 stolen bases, also knocking in a league leading 124 RBI.

    With Oakland, Canseco was a five-time All-Star and a three-time Silver Slugger award recipient.  He totalled 254 home runs and 793 RBI, hitting .264 and stealing 135 bases in 1,058 games for the club.

    Canseco later played for the Texas Rangers, the Boston Red Sox, the Toronto Blue Jays, the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the New York Yankees and the Chicago White Sox.

    His off the field antics have kept Canseco in the limelight long after his playing career ended.  He was most recently a DH and manager for the independent North American League team, the Yuma Scorpions in 2011.

26. Vida Blue (1969-1977, WAR: 28.0)

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    Blue was acquired via the 1967 amateur draft in the second round by the Kansas City Athletics.  He went 1-1 in his first call-up, pitching 42 innings in 12 games in 1969.

    A three-time All-Star for the A's, Blue enjoyed his best season in Oakland in 1971, posting a 24-8 record.  He led the AL with a 1.82 ERA, eight complete game shutouts and a 0.952 WHIP.  He took home both the AL Cy Young award and the AL MVP award.

    Blue accumulated 124 wins against 86 losses while with Oakland.  He posted a 2.95 career ERA and 1,315 strikeouts.

    He later played for the San Francisco Giants and the Kansas City Royals.


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