Starting Pitcher 4: Eddie Plank
Many younger A’s fans may not recognize Eddie Plank‘s name, given that his final game was nearly a century ago, but Plank is the A’s franchise leader in Wins Above Replacement. During his time with the A’s, he earned a 76.0 WAR – which is only a fraction of his total career WAR. This is partly due to the fact that Plank spent 14 years with the Philadelphia Athletics, where he maintained an ERA of 2.39 and struck out 1985 batters.
Plank signed with the A’s in 1901, and he started 25 games or more for the Athletics in all but his final season with the team. He is ranked 16th all time in WAR for pitchers, and he had an AL Top-10 record in 13 of his 17 seasons.
After his time with the A’s, Plank moved on to St. Louis, where he continued to have success on the mound. The left-hander was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1946, after being selected by the Old Timers Committee. Although it’s easy to forget about the baseball greats of the early part of the last century, Plank is one of the best pitchers in Athletics’ history.
Runner-Up: Mark Mulder
Mark Mulder was the second-overall pick in the 1998 draft, and he flew through the Major League system before debuting with the Oakland Athletics in 2000. Mulder was considered a part of the “big three”, along with Barry Zito and Tim Hudson, and together the trio helped carry the A’s to the post-season four years in a row. In 2001, Mulder led the AL in wins with 21, and he also led the league with nine complete games in 2003 and five in 2004. He was named an All-Star in 2003 and 2004, and it’s hard to imagine the Athletics early-2000 golden years without him. Of course, even all of his accomplishments didn’t stop the Athletics from trading him away to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Daric Barton, Dan Haren and Kiko Calero.
Next: The Rotation: Starting Pitcher #5