#8: LHP Rube Waddell
Rube Waddell spent six seasons with the Philadelphia Athletics from 1902-1906. Although he was not part of any of the early Philadelphia A’s winning World Series campaigns, he did gain a reputation for becoming the A’s first real strikeout machine.
To demonstrate this, Bender’s season-high strikeout total came in 1909 when he struck out 161, and Plank notched his season high in 1905 with 210 strikeouts. Waddell beat both of those totals by wide margins in five of his six seasons with the A’s, including two seasons where he eclipsed 300 strikeouts on the year with 302 and 349. To put this in perspective, Clayton Kershaw’s 301 strikeouts in 2015 was the first time a Major League pitcher broke the 300 mark in strikeouts since Randy Johnson in 2002.
Waddell also brought personality to the early Connie Mack A’s. Many of his antics were detailed in Alan Howard Levy’s biography of Waddell, including one time that he left the mound in the middle of a game to go fishing. The biography also jokes that he was so fascinated by fire trucks that he would get distracted by them and chase them in mid-game.
Waddell was the original strikeout artist despite his on-field antics, which is why he earns a spot on our list.
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