The Oakland Athletics are one of MLB’s oldest franchises, as they’ve been around (in various locations) since 1901. Something else that’s also old? Their franchise single-season home run record, which was set in 1932 by Jimmie Foxx. It’s been challenged on a couple of occasions, but not seriously in quite a while. In fact, Khris Davis is the only player to be among the Athletics home run leaders since 2000.
Let’s talk more about Foxx, Davis, and other A’s sluggers below, shall we?
Athletics Home Run Leaders: Top 5
Jimmie Foxx: 58 Home Runs in 1932
Although he played during the same era as guys like Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx did his best to cement himself as one of the game’s premier sluggers. Registering 12 different 30-homer seasons (with five of them going for 40-plus) will certainly do that. Foxx had enjoyed three straight 30-homer, 100-RBI seasons entering 1932, but this campaign put him on the map.
His performance is still among the most home runs in a season in MLB history. He obviously led the league in this category, as did his 169 RBI and 151 runs scored, all while eventually taking home his first MVP award.
The right-handed slugger never posted a month with an OPS lower than 1.100 for the Athletics, and he slugged at least 10 homers in four of the season’s six months. Three of these months came consecutively in May (13), June (12), and July (12). He also collected at least 35 RBI in each.
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Mark McGwire: 52 Home Runs in 1996
As long as Mark McGwire played a full season for the Athletics, that man was going to get his dingers. Between 1987 and 1992, he slugged at least 30 homers five times. After being limited to just 74 games between 1993 and 1994, he came back to hit 39 in 1995 before setting a new single-season career-high for himself (at the time) in 1996. It should be no shock that he’s the club’s all-time home run leader.
He won his second Silver Slugger award and led the league in on-base percentage (.467), slugging percentage (.730), and OPS (1.198) while finishing seventh in AL MVP voting.
McGwire had some interesting symmetry between his performance at home (24 home runs, 56 RBI) and away (28 home runs, 57 RBI) compared to his first-half (28 homers, 60 RBI) and second-half numbers (24 homers, 53 RBI). He did power up a little more in June and July, though. During this span of 211 plate appearances, the slugger hit .325/.488/.888 with 27 home runs, 46 RBI, and 48 runs scored. That performance was good for a 224 wRC+ and a .543 wOBA.
Mark McGwire: 49 Home Runs in 1987
While a .892 OPS after the All-Star break is nothing to scoff at (especially as a rookie), Big Mac did most of his damage in the first half. Leading into the midsummer respite, he hit 33 homers and collected 68 RBI while posting a 1.075 OPS, compared to 16 homers, 50 RBI, and that .892 OPS in the second half.
That incredible first half was powered by a ridiculous May, which included a .275/.391/.813 (!) line, 15 home runs, and 24 RBI.
Jimmie Foxx: 48 Home Runs in 1933
How exactly do you follow up an MVP campaign that just so happened to be one of the most powerful seasons in MLB history? Well, you win another MVP while also taking home the Triple Crown. At least, that’s what Foxx did. He led the league with a .356 average, 48 home runs, and 163 RBI en route to another incredible year.
What’s crazy is that through the end of May, the first baseman had just seven homers and 31 RBI through 34 games played. So, he absolutely went off from June to the end of the season. I think the following is interesting to point out, especially since it was also true in 1932. Although the majority of Foxx’s home runs (32) and RBI (119) came in Athletics victories, he was still nearly impossible to stop in losses. When the A’s won, Foxx posted a 1.261 OPS. In losses, it only dropped slightly to 1.010.
Khris Davis: 48 Home Runs in 2018
Although the 2018 season was the fourth consecutive year Khris Davis posted a .247 batting average, it was the apex of continual improvement in the power department. Here’s his home run progression between 2011 and 2018: 11, 22, 27, 42, 43, 48. His RBI progression was nearly just as linear, too: 27, 69, 66, 102, 110, 123.
This career-high number of homers was made possible by elevating his game in the second half. After slugging 21 dingers with a .249/.324/.503 line prior to the All-Star Game, he came back to slash .244/.327/.610 with 27 homers. What’s interesting when looking at his monthly splits is that he never posted an OPS lower than .804 or higher than .887 five times. But the one time he busted that trend? It was in July — his OPS jumped up to 1.051 off the strength of a .323/.364/.687 triple slash with nine homers and 29 RBI. That .323 batting average was the only time it finished above .240 in a single month.
Athletics Home Run Leaders: The Rest
Here’s what the remainder of the top-20 most powerful seasons in Athletics history looks like:
- Reggie Jackson, 1969: 47 home runs
- Jimmie Foxx, 1934: 44
- Jose Canseco, 1991: 44
- Jason Giambi, 2000: 43
- Khris Davis, 2017: 43
- Jose Canseco, 1988: 42
- Mark McGwire, 1992: 42
- Gus Zernial, 1953: 42
- Khris Davis, 2016: 42
- Mark McGwire, 1990: 39
- Matt Olson, 2021: 39
- Frank Thomas, 2006: 39
- Jason Giambi, 2001: 38
- Bob Cerv, 1958: 38
- Matt Stairs, 1999: 38
To find out which performances are currently on the outside looking in, you can look at the full list on FanGraphs.