Oakland Athletics: The Top 50 Oakland A’s of All-Time

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#18: Barry Zito

Barry Zito often gets the most recognition of the Big Three. Perhaps it’s because he had the loudest personality – with quirks like playing music or wearing his hair differently. Perhaps it’s because he spent seven years in an A’s uniform, before returning in 2015 to retire as an Athletic. Or perhaps it’s because the three-time All-Star not only led the league in wins in 2002, but took home the AL Cy Young Award that season.

Zito split his 15-year career almost evenly between the Bay Area teams, spending seven years in San Francisco between his two stints with the Athletics. During his time with the Green and Gold, Zito earned a 102-63 record and posted a 3.58 ERA. He also struck out 1098 batters in 1437.1 innings.

The left-hander was always a fan favorite in Oakland, although that was somewhat stifled after his departure to the rival Giants. Still, when he returned as a minor leaguer with the Triple-A Nashville Sounds in 2015, hoping to make the A’s in the event of a roster opening, most fans were quick to encourage a call-up. In September, they got their wish. With every other potential pitcher injured, Zito was finally given the chance to pitch out of the bullpen, and eventually even permitted to start.

After the Giants officially fell out of the race, Zito and Tim Hudson squared off in a contest between two of the best pitchers in A’s history, with Hudson representing San Francisco in the meaningless game. Both retired at the end of the season, making it a special memory in A’s history.

Next: Top 50 Oakland Athletics: #17