A's best players not in Cooperstown

December 1st, 2021

There are 14 players representing the A's in the Hall of Fame when you combine the franchise's stints in Philadelphia, Kansas City and Oakland. With such a rich history that dates back over a century, you can be sure to find players along the way who many feel are Hall of Fame-worthy, yet haven't made the cut. Here’s a ranking of the top five A’s players not in the Hall of Fame.

Through the late 1980s and '90s, McGwire appeared to be a lock for the Hall of Fame as he ascended to superstardom as one of the top sluggers of his generation before his retirement in 2001. But by the time he became eligible for the Hall of Fame, McGwire had been linked to baseball’s controversy surrounding performance-enhancing drugs, with the legitimacy of his dominant statistics being called into question. With his time on the ballot to be voted in having come and gone, McGwire’s only way in now would be a selection through the Veterans Committee.

McGwire’s place in A’s history will forever be remembered. Inducted into the A’s Hall of Fame in 2019, “Big Mac” brought plenty of memorable moments while playing his first 12 big league seasons in green and gold before finishing his career with the Cardinals. McGwire slugged 363 of his 583 career home runs with the A’s, which stands as the most by a player in club history. His resume includes a Rookie of the Year Award and nine All-Star selections in his 12 seasons with Oakland, helping to bring the club its most recent World Series title in 1989.

He might have been overshadowed by fellow Hall of Fame teammates Catfish Hunter and Rollie Fingers, but Blue’s role on the powerhouse A’s clubs of the early 1970s was just as important in helping to form a dynasty that won three straight World Series titles from '72-74. Blue became one of just 11 pitchers who have won both the AL Cy Young Award and AL MVP Award in the same year for his stellar '71 campaign that saw him set Oakland single-season records for ERA, shutouts and strikeouts, going 24-8 with a 1.82 ERA while tossing eight shutouts and striking out 301 batters.

In 17 big league seasons, Blue went 209-161 with a 3.27 ERA. His exclusion from the Hall of Fame becomes somewhat of a head-scratcher when you consider his numbers are not much different from Hunter, who went 224-166 with a 3.26 ERA over 15 seasons in the Majors. Regardless, Blue remains one of the most beloved players in A's history after going 124-86 with a 2.95 ERA in his time with Oakland. His 36.6 fWAR and 1,315 strikeouts are tops among A's left-handers in the Oakland era. Blue was elected to the A's Hall of Fame in 2019.

One of the many stars of the A’s dynasty of the early 1970s, Campaneris provided a spark at the top of the lineup for those World Series-winning clubs. He made history in 1965 by becoming the first player to play all nine positions in one game, against the Angels, starting at shortstop and finishing the contest behind the plate as the catcher, but that was just one of many impressive feats over the shortstop’s 19-year big league career. Campaneris finished his career amassing 2,249 hits, with 1,882 of those coming with the A’s to establish him as the franchise’s all-time hits leader. A six-time All-Star and member of three World Series championship clubs, Campaneris also led the league in stolen bases six times, finishing with 649 career swiped bags.

A member of a dominant Philadelphia A’s pitching staff in the 1910s that also featured Hall of Famers Eddie Plank and Chief Bender, it was Coombs who came up huge in the big games. Going an incredible 31-9 with a 1.30 ERA in 1910, the right-hander was downright heroic later that year in the World Series. Coombs bested Mordecai "Three Finger" Brown in Game 2, came back on one day's rest to earn a win in Game 3, then beat Brown again in Game 5 on two days of rest to clinch the A’s their first championship in club history. Longevity may have been the only thing to prevent Coombs from the Hall. In 14 seasons, Coombs went 158-110 with a 2.78 ERA, going 115-67 with a 2.60 ERA in nine seasons with the A’s.

One has to wonder what Stewart’s career might have looked like had it started with the A’s from the beginning. Considered a journeyman pitcher who had already played for three teams in six seasons, Stewart, an Oakland native, received an opportunity to pitch for his hometown team in 1986 after he was released by the Phillies. It was with the A’s where the right-hander connected with pitching coach Dave Duncan and revitalized his career at age 30 with a legendary stretch in which he went 119-78 with a 3.73 ERA over eight seasons. Few players in franchise history are as beloved as “Smoke.” The 1989 World Series MVP tossed a shutout in Game 1 against the Giants and went 2-0 with a 1.69 ERA in the Series sweep to bring the city of Oakland its fourth World Series title.

Already a member of the A’s Hall of Fame, Stewart is also set to have his jersey retired in the upcoming season, becoming the first non-National Baseball Hall of Fame A's player to have that honor.