OAKLAND -- Composing a list of the top A's players from this decade was a little like trying to guess the murderer after reading half of a “whodunit” murder mystery. Decisions had to be made without complete evidence of a player’s value, due to the A’s tendency to trade certain performers before they reached their peak. Josh Donaldson, Yoenis Céspedes and Josh Reddick were among the A’s who were sent off before they seemingly reached full flower.
However, credit Oakland for maintaining an admirable level of talent. The A’s finished .500 or better in six separate seasons between 2010-19.
Here’s one look at the top 10 players who helped the A’s stay competitive during most of this span.
1. Josh Donaldson
Seasons: 2010, '12-14
Donaldson looked like a budding Most Valuable Player Award winner throughout his A’s stint. In fact, after finishing fourth and eighth in 2013 and '14, respectively, in the American League MVP Award voting those seasons, he won in '15. His impressive credentials included an MLB-high 122 runs, an AL-high 123 RBIs and 41 homers. By then, Donaldson had migrated to Toronto.
2. Matt Chapman
Chapman quickly proved that his skills are as balanced on offense and defense as they are prodigious overall. Blessed with classic five-tool talent, he could become one of Oakland’s finest players if he can avoid serious injuries -- he’s willing to risk his health to try to make a great play -- or getting traded.
3. Marcus Semien
Everything said about Matt Chapman applies to Semien, whom A’s manager Bob Melvin has called the hardest-working player he has ever encountered. Power wasn’t considered a major part of Semien’s game until this past season, when he hit a career-high 33 homers and compiled a .522 slugging percentage.
4. Matt Olson
Olson’s potential seems limitless. He hit 36 homers this year, following up nicely on the 24 he hit in 2017 and the 29 he amassed in '18. Olson also has won the last two AL Gold Glove Awards at first base for his fielding excellence. The A’s were 80-45 when he started in '19, compared with 17-20 when he didn’t.
5. Khris Davis
Davis’ batting average and on-base percentage are unimpressive. So are his WAR totals and the fact that, as a designated hitter, he plays defense less and less. However, though dwelling on the most basic of production numbers might seem hopelessly old-fashioned, attention must be paid to his averages of 44 home runs and 112 RBIs per year from 2016-18.
6. Yoenis Céspedes
Céspedes, the Cuban-born outfielder who missed the entire 2019 season for the Mets due to injury, began his big league career under much different circumstances in Oakland. As a rookie in '12, he compiled a slash line of .292/.356/.505 to go with 23 homers, 82 RBIs and 16 stolen bases in 20 tries. The following season, Céspedes’ batting average sank to .240 and his OPS dwindled to .737, though he collected 26 homers and 80 RBIs. He was traded to Boston the following year in the deal that brought the A’s left-hander Jon Lester.
7. Coco Crisp
A reliable leadoff batter, Crisp established personal bests during his A’s tenure with an AL-high 49 stolen bases in 58 tries in 2011 and 93 runs scored in '13. Crisp played primarily center field, though he also started 309 games in left field during his 15-year career.
8. Sonny Gray
Gray initially looked primed to join the pantheon of great A’s starters. He reached double figures in victories in his first two full seasons. In each of those years, Gray pitched two shutouts, which is something that virtually nobody does anymore.
9. Josh Reddick
Reddick’s first season with the A’s also ranked among his best in the Majors. He contributed 32 home runs and 85 RBIs, both of which remain career highs. With the A’s in 2013, Reddick was tied for the AL lead with nine assists among right fielders. He raised his batting average to .272 in '15, but that didn’t prevent him from being dealt to the Dodgers the following year.
10. Jed Lowrie
Seasons: 2013-14, '16-18
During his 12 years in the Majors, the Stanford University product has accumulated many of his better numbers during his association with the A’s. His .290 batting average in 2013 was a career high. His OPS climbed to .808 in '17 and .801 in '18.