#4: RHP Chief Bender
Although Chief Bender was not part of the original 1901 Philadelphia Athletics, he comes pretty close as he made his professional debut with the A’s in 1903.
The A’s certainly got Bender’s best years, and he was a workhorse in the rotation. Through 12 seasons as an A’s pitcher, Bender tossed 2,602 innings, where he compiled a 2.32 ERA, 1,536 strikeouts, and walking only 614.
Bender was one of only two pitchers that the Athletics used in the 1910 World Series. He started (and finished) game 1, where he pitched nine innings and gave up only one run. He also pitched a 9.2 inning extra-innings loss against the Cubs in game 4, where the Athletics lost 4-3. Bender and Jack Coombs combined to pitch 45.2 innings through five games in their World Series victory, giving up only 14 earned runs in that time.
The reality about Bender is that he was a common denominator in all five of the A’s first World Series appearances, and that a great deal of the A’s early success is attributed to the work that he did for that pitching staff.
Like Eddie Plank, Bender also left the A’s after the 1914 season just before the A’s hit their decade of mediocrity.
Next: Top Ten Pitchers: #3