OAKLAND -- If you need an example of how important homegrown talent is, just look back at the best teams in Athletics history.
From the Swingin’ A’s dynasty in the 1970s to the powerhouse clubs that reached the World Series three straight years from ’88-90, one common theme in the construction of those rosters was the presence of stars found by the front office through the Draft.
Here are the top five homegrown Draft picks in A’s history:
1) Rickey Henderson (1976, fourth round)
It doesn’t get any more homegrown than Rickey, who starred as a three-sport athlete just a few miles down the road from the Coliseum at Oakland Technical High School before the A’s drafted him with the 96th overall pick in 1976. In a 25-year Hall of Fame career, Henderson spent parts of 14 seasons with the A’s, providing a spark at the top of the order to lead them to a World Series title in 1989 and capturing the American League MVP Award in ‘90.
Of the 12 seasons he led the AL in stolen bases, nine came playing for Oakland, including an astonishing 130 swiped bags in ‘82, which remains the Modern Era (since 1900) single-season record. A 2009 first-ballot inductee to the Baseball Hall of Fame, Henderson holds the MLB record for stolen bases (1,406), runs (2,295) and leadoff home runs (81). He remains the A’s all-time leader in position-player bWAR (72.7), runs (1,270), walks (1,227) and stolen bases (867).
2) Reggie Jackson (1966, first round, second overall)
Spending the first nine seasons of his career with the A’s before returning for his final season in 1987, 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 (269), 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.
A key contributor to three straight A’s World Series titles from 1972-74, Jackson turned in a memorable performance in ’73 against the Mets, batting .310 with one home run, three doubles, one triple and six RBIs over seven games to earn Series MVP honors. In 32 career postseason games with the A’s, Jackson hit .271 with five home runs, seven doubles, a triple and 15 RBIs.
3) Vida Blue (1967, second round)
Blue spent the first nine seasons of his 17-year career with the A’s. The left-hander helped form a dynasty, winning the AL Cy Young and MVP Awards in 1971 before contributing to three straight A’s World Series titles from ’72-74. Blue may not be enshrined in Cooperstown, but he was inducted to the Oakland A’s Hall of Fame in 2019.
Blue remains one of the most beloved players in Oakland history after going 124-86 with a 2.95 ERA and three All-Star selections with the A’s. His 36.6 fWAR and 1,315 strikeouts are tops among A’s left-handers in the Oakland era.
4) Sal Bando (1965, sixth round)
Bando slashed .255/.359/.418 with 192 home runs and 796 RBIs in 11 seasons with the A’s.
He remains the club's all-time leader for third basemen in RBIs and walks (792), and his 33.0 bWAR from 1969-73 led the Major Leagues.
5) Mark McGwire (1984, first round, 10th overall)
McGwire won the AL Rookie of the Year Award in 1987, earned nine All-Star selections and captured a World Series championship in ’89 during his 12 seasons with the A’s.
He is Oakland’s all-time home run leader (363), and his 42.9 WAR is the highest among first basemen in the Oakland era.