Brodie Brazil

Brodie Brazil ranks his 20 favorite Oakland A's players of his lifetime

NBC Universal, Inc.

During these most uncertain times of the A’s existence in Oakland, I decided to create a unique time capsule-type piece on 2024 Opening Day.

These are my favorite 20 Oakland players of my lifetime, a list that comes with some qualifications:

1. I was born in 1981, and didn’t feel justified to rate or evaluate the 1970s dynasty players.

2. Some players are listed because of their performance.

3. Other players are included because of their personality.

4. Most players are listed because of a combination of both.

There also are 15 honorable mentions, which means anybody outside of this are unfortunate snubs: Mark Ellis, Dallas Braden, Grant Balfour, Yoenis Cespedes, Bobby Crosby, Sean Doolittle, Trevor May, Khris Davis, Liam Hendriks, Mark Mulder, Josh Donaldson, Coco Crisp, Eric Byrnes, Walt Weiss, Bob Welch.

And now for the “Favorite Twenty” …

20. Stephen Vogt

A tremendous interviewee and clubhouse leader who turned into manager material. And in a cool coincidence, he’ll make his MLB managerial debut at the Coliseum when he leads the Cleveland Guardians against the A’s. He was a two-time All-Star in Oakland, and helped the green and gold reach the playoffs in 2013 and 2014.

19. Nick Swisher

Delivered infectious energy into the mid-2000s teams, including incredible personality and 35 home runs in 2006. “Swish” also won a Regional Emmy that year for “Swisher Unscripted,” a regular television segment on KICU-TV.

18. Dave Henderson

A true patroller of center field during a time where Rickey Henderson was to his right and Jose Canseco was to his left. “Hendu” had an amazing smile, which played into his role as a clubhouse leader. He had 94 RBI in 1988, and helped Oakland win the 1989 World Series.

17. Chris Bassitt

One of the truest grinders Oakland has ever seen, “C-Bass” overcame injuries and adversity to join a rotation in which he’d eventually become the ace. In August 2021, he overcame a line drive to the head, determined to make two more starts before an unraveling season ended.

16. Barry Zito

Outside of the three All-Star appearances, Cy Young Award and 102 wins in Oakland, the left-hander had a devastating 12-6 curveball that matched his eclectic personality. He also was a constant in the rotation, annually making 34 to 35 starts per season.

15. Jason Giambi

Imagine coming to Oakland and filling the shoes of Mark McGwire. That was Jason’s role. He was the AL MVP in 2000 and hit .300 across eight seasons, all while looking fresh from a WWE match.

14. Tim Hudson

The “Big Three” had a leader, and it was “Huddy.” He was Oakland’s Opening Day starter from 2001 through 2004, carrying a 92-34 all-time record with the A’s.

13. Mark Kotsay

He has the cool trajectory of an Oakland team leader who eventually became the A’s manager. Kotsay’s four seasons in Oakland included starting his family and hitting .282 with 38 homers in four seasons. He returned as a coach in 2016 and manager in 2022.

12. Marcus Semien

The Cal product did the East Bay proud as a model citizen and symbol of resilience. He led the AL in errors in 2015, but he was a Gold Glove finalist before he left Oakland, and eventually won that award in 2021 with the Toronto Blue Jays.

11. Terry Steinbach

Often overshadowed during the A’s ‘88, ‘89 and ‘90, “Steiny” was a field general behind the plate for manager Tony La Russa. He was a three-time All-Star in Oakland who also moonlighted at third base, first base and in the outfield.

10. Carney Lansford

Teammates called him “The Captain” of the 1989 group, and he described himself as a “red ass,” referring to the intensity it took to succeed. His batting and fielding stance portrayed that intensity, and he hit .288 with 94 homers across 10 seasons in Oakland.

9. Eric Chavez

How does somebody win three consecutive Gold Gloves but never make an All-Star team? Chavez played 13 seasons in Oakland and remains the A’s biggest contract awarded, hitting .267 with 230 homers and 787 RBI.

8. Dennis Eckersley

Not many relief pitchers win a Cy Young or an AL MVP. But “Eck” did both in 1992. The Fremont native was part of recording the final out in the 1989 World Series, and made 320 saves in nine years while wearing an A’s hat.

7. Miguel Tejada

The shortstop could turn on a fastball with the best of them, surpassing 30 home runs three times in his seven seasons in Oakland. Tejada was the AL’s MVP in 2002, the year of “Moneyball” and the 20-game winning streak.

6. Matt Olson

One half of “The Matts,” he played six seasons in Oakland and cranked 142 home runs from the left side. He also was sure-handed in the field, winning Gold Gloves in 2018 and 2019 at first base.

5. Matt Chapman

Who knew there was a Platinum Glove until Matt Chapman won it in 2019?. The more front-facing half of “The Matts,” he easily could be the best defensive infielder Oakland has ever seen. He also hit .278 in 2018 and drilled 36 homers in 2019, both career highs.

3t. Mark McGwire

Big Mac played 12 years in Oakland, hit 363 homers, and was a nine-time All-Star, Rookie of the Year, Gold Glover and World Series champion. And, oh yeah, he co-invented “The Bash.”

3t. Jose Canseco

The 40/40 club became a “thing” because of him, and he gave the A’s personality, an image and definition. He was in Oakland for nine seasons and hit 254 homers drove in 1,058 games played. He was a five-time All-Star, and hit some of the furthest baseballs in Oakland history.

2. Dave Stewart

“Smoke” puffed for eight seasons, rejuvenating his career in his hometown by notching four consecutive 20-win seasons. He was the 1989 World Series MVP and a Roberto Clemente Award winner, and he helped first responders to the Lona Prieta earthquake in Oakland while still wearing his A’s World Series jersey.

1. Rickey Henderson

The “Man of Steal” didn’t have to take anybody else’s place on this list. Like “Stew,” Rickey was an Oakland product, and he surpassed Lou Brock’s all-time stolen base record in 1991 at the Coliseum, where the field now bears his name. He also hit 167 home runs across 1,704 games played in 13 total seasons with the A’s.

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