#1: Rickey Henderson
Rickey Henderson might not have been the most prolific power hitter on this list, or the player most likely to have the highest average. However, Henderson’s unique blend of power, extreme speed and consistency make him the most valuable hitter in Athletics’ history.
Henderson was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2009 on his first ballot, after a career that included 10 All-Star selections and the 1990 American League MVP Award, as well as winning the 1989 ALCS MVP. He led the league in WAR in 1985, and his 110.9 career WAR is ranked 19th All-Time.
While Henderson had a top-ten batting average three times, it was his ability to walk and steal that truly set him apart. From 1980 to 1999, he only fell out of the AL’s top ten in on-base percentage three times, including leading the league in 1990. He led the league in steals 12 times in his career, and was only out of the top ten one time between 1979 and 2001. Henderson holds the single-season record for swiped bags, with 130 in 1982, as well as the lifetime records for runs (2295) and stolen bases (1406).
During 14 seasons with Oakland, Henderson hit .299/.409/.430, including 167 home runs. He holds more records, including being a member of the 3000 hit club and having more leadoff home runs (81) than any other player. While his defense was highly regarded, too, his impressive offensive totals are probably why the A’s felt compelled to retired his number 24 in 2009, the most recent number in the franchise to have been retired.
In addition to Oakland, Henderson spent time with the Yankees, Blue Jays, Padres, Angels, Mets, Mariners, Red Sox and Dodgers, so he was quite the well-traveled player. One of his World Championships came with the A’s in 1989, while the other came with the Blue Jays in 1993. Henderson also won a Gold Glove Award and a trio of Silver Slugger Awards during his career, making him truly one of the greatest athletes to ever play in Major League Baseball history.
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