September 1, 2014

The All-Time Athletics (a draft book chapter)

February 20, 2011 by · 3 Comments 

Who would be selected for a mythical All-Time Athletics (A’s) dream team roster? Who would be the starters and who the backups? Who gets snubbed, not quite good enough to make the squad? And how have other authors, as well as fan surveys and the like, answered this fun question throughout the years?

This is the latest of my Seamheads postings  that summarize draft book chapters in my forthcoming book on baseball “All-Time Teams” (book title TBD.) As I update/write each chapter, I will post an abstract here, with a link to the full draft chapter as a PDF file hosted at my personal website. I am doing this in part to get comments and feedback as I continue the writing process. My intention is to post another team’s chapter every few weeks. To read the entire draft chapter for the Athletics, please see the  index web page and see the PDF for the Athletics chapter. Also, I encourage you to read the draft of the book introduction as well, which explains a few ground rules for this project (e.g., that I am not separating  OF positions into RF, CF, LF, and that I am only counting the time players played for that particular franchise, not their time played for other teams).


I will here list my selections for starter and backup at each position, including six outfielders (without separation by RF/CF/LF), and also including 10 pitchers (any combination of up to 8 starters and up to 4 relievers). For my write-ups on why I chose each player, and for the many other players I considered at each position, see the full draft chapter for this team.

  • 1B: Jimmie Foxx, Mark McGwire
  • 2B: Eddie Collins, Max Bishop
  • 3B: Sal Bando, Home Run Baker
  • SS: Bert Campaneris, Miguel Tejada
  • C: Mickey Cochrane, Terry Steinbach
  • OF: Rickey Henderson, Al Simmons, Reggie Jackson, Bob Johnson, Jose Canseco, Dwayne Murphy
  • SP: Lefty Grove, Eddie Plank, Catfish Hunter, Chief Bender, Rube Waddell, Vida Blue, Dave Stewart, Eddie Rommel
  • RP: Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers

There were some tough decisions, and lots of good players who didn’t make this roster, so see the full draft chapter for details. And for each team I am picking one “extra” player, the one who I felt was most deserving amongst those who were not selected as a starter, backup, or amongst the ten pitchers. Who do you think it should be for the Athletics?

So assuming no DH, and without concern for a proper RF/CF/LF split, one reasonable starting lineup might be:

  1. Rickey Henderson OF
  2. Eddie Collins 2B
  3. Al Simmons OF
  4. Jimmie Foxx 1B
  5. Reggie Jackson OF
  6. Mickey Cochrane C
  7. Sal Bando 3B
  8. Bert Campaneris SS
  9. Lefty Grove SP

Although both were primarily leftfielders, Henderson and Simmons both played a few seasons as centerfielders. In a fantasy matchup against an All-Time Team, if a DH were needed, then you could add McGwire’s power in the sixth spot behind Jackson.

In the full draft chapter I then discuss the selections from other authors and fan surveys, including:

  • 1958: Sport magazine
  • 1990: The Baseball Research Journal 
  • 1992: The All-Time All-Star Baseball Book, Nick Acocella, and Donald Dewey 
  • 1995: Baseball Ratings by Charles S. Faber 
  • 2003: Rob Neyer’s Big Book of Baseball Lineups by Rob Neyer 
  • 2006: The Team By Team Encyclopedia of Major League Baseball, by Dennis Purdy 

Do you know of any books or fan surveys that I’ve missed here? Please let me know in the comments to this posting.

Finally, as part of this project I am determining the all-time team that would be determined by Bill James’ innovative  Win Shares system. To see those results, see the full draft chapter for this team.

Again, your comments and feedback on the draft chapter are very much appreciated, as I hope to get the book published in the next year or so.

Comments

3 Responses to “The All-Time Athletics (a draft book chapter)”
  1. Devon Young says:

    You know, sometimes I forget how many great players the A’s have fielded. One thing I’d change from your starting lineup, is the starting third baseman. Frank Baker was a much better hitter than Sal Bando IMHO. Also, I’d add Eric Chavez to the roster. he’d be great for a late inning defensive replacement.

  2. Al Featherston says:

    I’m inclined to agree with Mr. Young — Baker was a greater hitter (and player) in his era than Bando was in his.

    Significently higher OPS-plus (135 > 119) … also greater career WAR (63.7 > 56.9), although I will concede that Bando’s WAR with the A’s was slightly higher (49.8 > 45.5).

    Still, I think Baker was the greater player.

  3. Cliff Blau says:

    Also, the draft chapter gives the wrong genesis of Baker’s nickname. He got that for hitting two key home runs in the 1911 WS off Christy Mathewson and Rube Marquard.

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