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Athletics' Top 5 shortstops: Gallegos' take

@MartinJGallegos
April 20, 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

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.

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

• Athletics' best: C | 1B | 2B | 3B

1. Bert Campaneris, 1964-76
Key fact: Campaneris is the A’s all-time hits leader, with 1,882

Campaneris was the spark plug for an A’s dynasty that won three straight World Series titles from 1972-74, setting the table at the top of the lineup and wreaking havoc on the basepaths.

A five-time All-Star with the A’s, Campaneris was the American League hits leader (177) in ‘68 and led the league in stolen bases six times. A member of the club during its stint in Kansas City, he made history in ‘65 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. This feat has only been accomplished four times since.

Campaneris signed out of his native Cuba in ‘61. Spending the first 13 seasons of his career with the A’s, the shortstop slashed .262/.314/.348 with 70 home runs, 270 doubles, 70 triples, 529 RBIs, 983 runs scored and 1,882 hits. Leaving for Texas in free agency following the ‘76 season, he went on to play seven more seasons with the Rangers, Angels and Yankees. Campaneris remains the A’s all-time leader in games played (1,795) and hits, also ranking second in stolen bases (566).

After some early struggles on defense, Campaneris also developed into a strong defender, with his career 17.8 dWAR ranking the highest of any position player in club history. With his 49.0 bWAR among the top six position players in club history and highest of any A’s shortstop, putting “Campy” at the top of this list is an easy choice.

2. Eddie Joost 1947-54
Key fact: Holds A’s all-time record for walks in a single season, with 149 in 1949

Don’t let Joost’s pedestrian career .249 batting average over eight seasons with the A’s fool you. He was a threat on offense based on his ability to get on base at a high clip.

Joost spent the first eight seasons of his career with the Reds and Boston Braves. As soon as he joined the A’s, Joost finally decided to address his poor eyesight caused by astigmatism by wearing eyeglasses while playing, and it immediately paid off as Joost drew over 100 walks in each of his first six seasons with the club.

Defense was also a strong part of Joost’s overall game. He was part of an A’s infield that turned 217 double plays in ‘49, which still stands as a Major League record for double plays turned in a season. He also holds two of the top three single-season fWARs in franchise history, posting the second-highest (7.0) in ‘49 and third-highest (6.1) in ‘51.

A two-time All-Star with the A’s, Joost finished out his career by playing one season with the Red Sox in ‘55.

3. Miguel Tejada, 1997-2003
Key fact: Most recent A’s player to win MVP Award (2002)

Few players in the Oakland era have been as beloved by A’s fans like Tejada was.

Yes, he did go bonkers at the plate, including an absurd .308/.354/.508 slash line with 34 home runs and 131 RBIs that earned him the AL MVP Award in 2002. But what truly endeared Tejada to the Oakland faithful was his toughness -- especially in that ‘02 campaign, in which he battled injuries yet still managed to lead the Majors by playing in all 162 games and coming up with several clutch hits during the magical 20-game win streak that year.

The A’s made the playoffs four straight years from 2000-03, and Tejada was the heart and soul of those clubs. Over those four seasons, he bashed 122 homers with 465 RBIs and an All-Star selection. Then came decision time after the ‘03 season as Tejada was set to hit free agency. It was essentially down to Tejada and fellow star Eric Chavez. With future Rookie of the Year shortstop Bobby Crosby waiting in the wings, the club chose to give Chavez a contract extension while Tejada signed a six-year deal with the Orioles.

Tejada stood a chance to establish himself as the greatest shortstop in A’s history had he stayed, but he still ranks first among A’s shortstops in home runs (156), RBIs (604) and slugging percentage (.460).

4. Marcus Semien, 2015-present
Key fact: Semien’s 7.6 fWAR in 2019 was the highest by a shortstop in club history

Semien finished third in AL MVP Award voting last season. That’s the sort of thing that happens when you turn in production from the leadoff spot that hasn’t been seen in Oakland since the legendary Rickey Henderson was in his prime.

Settling in as the spark plug at the top of the lineup for a squad that has reached the playoffs each of the last two seasons, Semien hit a franchise record 31 home runs from the leadoff position in ‘19, surpassing Henderson’s previous mark of 28. Semien also joined another legend last season as his 123 runs scored tied Reggie Jackson for the single-season Oakland record.

Entering his age-29 season, Semien still has time to move up this list. The current trajectory is trending up as he continues to improve his defense as well, finishing the last two seasons as a Gold Glove Award finalist.

5. Jack Barry, 1908-15
Key fact: Won three World Series titles with the A’s

A part of the “$100,000” infield” from the early 1900s, Barry was overshadowed by his more famous teammates like “Home Run” Baker and Eddie Collins. Nonetheless, Barry was still a solid contributor on a squad that won three World Series titles in four years, and he finished in the top 10 in AL MVP Award voting in ‘13. He was always a threat on the bases, with his 131 stolen bases while a member of the A’s the second-most by a shortstop in club history.

Honorable mentions

Bobby Crosby was plagued by injuries, but he did a fine job replacing Tejada in ‘04 by winning the AL Rookie of the Year Award after clubbing 22 home runs with 64 RBIs.

Monte Cross played six seasons for the A’s and is one of three shortstops in A’s history to steal over 100 bases (114).

Marco Scutaro collected plenty of clutch hits with the A’s, including a memorable walk-off three-run blast off Yankees closer Mariano Rivera with two outs and two strikes. He captured the hearts of the Oakland fans as they often chanted “MAR-CO. SCU-TA-RO” whenever he was at the plate.

Martin Gallegos covers the A's for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @MartinJGallegos.