Athletics’ All-Time Strikeout Leaders
The Oakland Athletics (A’s) moved to Oakland in 1968. They began play as the Philadelphia A’s in 1901, and moved to Kansas City in 1954 before eventually landing in California. The team has a rich history, with 9 championships, four of those in Oakland.
They have also fielded some of the game’s best players over the years, especially pitchers. Here is a list of the Top 10 in strikeouts for the A’s franchise to date:
Eddie Plank (1985)—Hall of Famer Eddie Plank played for the Philadelphia A’s most of his career, from 1901 to 1914. He tops the team’s all-time list with 1985 strikeouts, and Plank had his best overall season in 1905, when he went 24-12 with a 2.26 ERA and career high 210 strikeouts. In 1912, despite just 110 K’s, Plank went an astounding 26-6.
Rube Waddell (1576)—Rube Waddell pitched for the Philadelphia A’s from 1902 to 1907 and in that short time racked up 1576 strikeouts, ranking him second in franchise history. Waddell had two seasons with more than 300 strikeouts, and his best overall season was probably 1904, when he went 25-19 with a 1.62 earned run average and career high 349 K’s.
Chief Bender (1536)—Chief Bender pitched for Philadelphia from 1903 to 1914, and he ranks third in team history with 1536 strikeouts. Bender had 161 strikeouts, a career high, in 1909. But his best season overall was 1910, when he had career best numbers in wins (23-5) and ERA (1.58) with 155 K’s.
Lefty Grove (1523)—Hall of Famer Lefty Grove pitched for the A’s in Philly from 1925 to 1933, and over that time struck out 1523 batters, ranking him fourth all-time with the franchise. Grove struck out a career high 209 batters in 1930, while going 28-5. But his best overall season was probably 1931, with career bests in wins (31-4) and earned run average (2.06) with 175 strikeouts.
Catfish Hunter (1520)—James “Catfish” Hunter was a part of those great Oakland A’s teams of the early ‘70’s that won three straight titles. He won the AL Cy Young in 1974 and was in contention for one several other seasons. Hunter began play with the Kansas City A’s in 1965 before moving with them to Oakland and pitching there through the 1974 season, after which he signed with the Yankees. Hunter ranks fifth in A’s history with 1520 strikeouts, and had a career high 196 of them in 1967. And despite winning 25 games in 1974, his best overall season was 1972, when Hunter went 21-7 with a career best 2.04 ERA and 191 K’s.
Vida Blue (1315)—Vida Blue had some of the nastiest stuff I’ve ever seen when he first broke in with Oakand, and he was practically unhittable. Blue pitched in Oakland from 1969 to 1977, but never matched the magic of his rookie year. That season, Blue won both the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards, going 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA and 301 strikeouts, all career best numbers.
Dave Stewart (1152)—Dave Stewart helped the A’s win a title in 1989, and he pitched in Oakland from 1986 to 1992 and again in 1995. Stewart had been a journeyman most of his career, but blossomed in the late ‘80’s. He ranks seventh in franchise history with 1152 strikeouts, and Stewart had perhaps his best overall season in 1987. That year, he went 20-13 with a 3.68 earned run average and career high 205 strikeouts.
Barry Zito (1096)—Barry Zito had some great years in Oakland, where he pitched from 2000 to 2006, winning the AL Cy Young in 2002. Zito signed with the Giants after that, and still pitches for them as I write this in 2009. He ranks eighth in A’s history with 1096 K’s, and while he had a career high 205 strikeouts in 2001, his best season by far was that 2002 campaign. That year, Zito went 23-5 with a 2.75 ERA and 182 K’s.
Rube Walberg (907)—Rube Walberg pitched for the Philadelphia A’s from 1923 to 1933, and ranks ninth in the team’s history with 907 strikeouts. Walberg won 20 games in 1931, but his best overall season was 1927, with a 16-12 record, 3.93 earned run average and career high 136 strikeouts.
Tim Hudson (899)—Tim Hudson was part of that young trio of star pitchers along with Zito and Mark Mulder, and he pitched in Oakland from 1999 to 2004 before signing with Atlanta, where he still pitches today. Hudson struck out a career high 181 batters in 2001, but his best overall season was 2000, when he was the Cy Young runner-up to Boston’s Pedro Martinez. That year, Hudson went 20-6 with a 4.14 ERA and 169 K’s.