A's Top 5 right fielders: Gallegos' take

May 11th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on each player’s career while with that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only. If you don’t agree with the order, vote in the Twitter poll for your favorite at this position.

• A's All-Time Team: C | 1B | 2B | 3B | SS | LF | CF

Here is MLB.com’s ranking of the top five right fielders in A’s history, as selected by Martín Gallegos. Next week: designated hitters.

1. Reggie Jackson, 1967-75, ’87
Key fact: Third on the A’s all-time home run list with 269

Before Jackson officially received his “Mr. October” nickname with the Yankees, he was building that legacy in Oakland as a contributor to three straight A’s World Series titles from 1972-74. His performance in the ’73 World Series against the Mets, which saw him bat .310 with a home run, three doubles, a triple and six RBIs over seven games, earned him MVP honors for the series. In 32 career postseason games with the A’s, Jackson hit .271 with five home runs, seven doubles, a triple and 15 RBIs.

Spending the first nine seasons of his career with the A’s before returning for his final season in ’87, Jackson carved out a legendary career that led to his Hall of Fame enshrinement in ’93. He ranks first among A’s right fielders in bWAR (48.1), home runs, runs scored (756), stolen bases (145) and second in RBIs (776). Jackson made six All-Star teams with Oakland and also hit one of the most memorable homers in All-Star Game history in ’71, blasting a two-run shot off Dock Ellis that bounced off a transformer on top of the right-field roof at Tiger Stadium.

2. Jose Canseco, 1985-92, ’97
Key fact: First player in MLB history to hit 40 home runs and steal 40 bases in a single season

Drafted by the A’s in the 15th round of the 1982 Draft as a high schooler, Canseco quickly put himself on the Major League radar by dominating the Minor Leagues so much that he earned Minor League Player of the Year honors from Baseball America in ’85. Canseco got his first full season with Oakland in ’86 and lived up to the hype surrounding his arrival by mashing 33 home runs with 117 RBIs, earning an All-Star selection and the AL Rookie of The Year Award. Two seasons later, Canseco became the youngest unanimous MVP Award winner in MLB at age 23 with a .307/.391/.569 slash line to go with 40 stolen bases and leading the league in homers (42) and RBIs (124).

A five-time All-Star and three-time Silver Slugger with Oakland, Canseco powered the A’s to three straight AL pennants from 1988-90, including a World Series title in ’89. He ranks first among A’s right fielders in RBIs (793) and second in home runs (254) and stolen bases (135).

3. Bing Miller, 1922-26, ’28-34
Key fact: Leads all A’s right fielders with 1,480 hits

Miller was overshadowed on teams that featured several Hall of Famers such as Jimmie Foxx, Lefty Grove, Eddie Collins and Al Simmons. But he could flat-out hit, compiling a .311 batting average over 12 seasons with the A’s.

Miller was a regular for an A’s dynasty that won three straight AL pennants, including back-to-back World Series titles in 1929 and ’30. If the World Series MVP Award was around back then, Miller would have likely taken it home for the ’29 series. He batted .368 over five games and clinched the title for the A’s by hitting a walk-off double with two outs against the Cubs in Game 5.

Among A’s right fielders, Miller ranks first in batting average, hits, doubles (292) and triples (74).

4. Elmer Valo, 1940-43, ’46-56
Key fact: .403 career on-base percentage with A’s leads all right fielders

Valo spent 15 seasons with the A’s and hit .300 or better in five of those years. Like a number of players in his era, Valo lost nearly three seasons of his prime due to serving in the military during World War II, perhaps keeping him from being even higher on this list.

Valo ranks first in walks (820), second in triples (68), third in hits (1,229) and fWAR (25.8) and fourth in runs (691).

5. Tony Armas, 1977-82
Key fact: Averaged 28 home runs and 91 RBIs from 1980-82

Armas had one of the biggest “what if” seasons in club history. In the strike-shortened 1981 campaign, he finished tied for the American League lead in home runs (22) and games played (109), earning an All-Star selection and American League Player of the Year honors by Sporting News.

After battling injuries early on with the A’s, Armas developed into one of the AL’s top sluggers once healthy. His finest season came in 1980 as he garnered some MVP Award votes after mashing 35 homers with 109 RBIs. Enjoying another strong season in ’82 with 28 home runs and 89 RBIs, Armas was traded that offseason to the Red Sox in a five-player deal that nabbed the A’s one of the more popular players in Oakland history, Carney Lansford.

Honorable mention

Matt Stairs loved to hit dingers, mashing 122 home runs over five seasons with the A’s. His career-high 38 homers and 102 RBIs in 1999 even earned him MVP Award votes.