Oakland Athletics All-Time Top 20 Hitters in Franchise History

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#15: Nap Lajoie

Nap Lajoie‘s time with the Philadelphia A’s was short, but his 1901 season was so great that it’s impossible to leave it off this list. Lajoie made his professional debut in 1896, when “The Frenchman” got his start with the Philadelphia Phillies. After the American League was established, Lajoie jumped ship in 1901 and headed across town to the AL Athletics.

In 1901, Lajoie played in 131 games and led the league in nearly every category: 141 runs, 232 hits, 48 doubles, 14 home runs, and 125 RBIs. The only categories in which he did not lead where triples (14) and stolen bases (27). He also had the highest line of any player, at .426/.463/.643 – an astonishing 1.106 OPS.

In 1902, after just one game, the Athletics dealt him to the Cleveland Indians franchise – where he would play the next 13 years of his career as one of the greatest players of all time. No, this wasn’t some early version of moneyball, or proof that the Athletics have always been cheap. After so many of their players jumped ship for the American League, the National League Phillies tried to take legal action. The result was an injunction that meant Lajoie and his teammates couldn’t play in the state of Pennsylvania.

Consequently, Lajoie spent his best years with the Indians, who at the time were called the Cleveland Naps in honor of their captain and fan-favorite – Lajoie. Although he returned to the A’s in 1915 and 1916, he was in his 40s at that point and was hardly the .338/.389/.452 career player he had been in the past. Had it not been for the Phillies’ injunction, he could have been the greatest player in A’s history.

Next: Top 20 A's Hitters: #14

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