Best Oakland A’s Catchers in Team History [All-Time List!]

The Oakland A’s are an American League team with a long and storied past. Over the decades, many standout catchers have put on an Athletics jersey.

In this article, we examine the top A’s catchers since 1901, ranked by both career and single season Wins Above Replacement (WAR).

Scroll on to learn more!

best oakland a's catchers of all time

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Background on the Athletics

The Oakland A's have a rich history that began in 1901, when the team became one of the original members of the American League (AL). 

Based at the time in Philadelphia, the Athletics later moved to Kansas City and then on to Oakland, where they remain today.

The A's are historically one of the most successful franchises in the game, as they have nine World Series championships to their name.

connie mack lefty grove mickey cochrane
Legendary A's manager Connie Mack with Mickey Cochrane and Lefty Grove, all of whom are in the Hall of Fame

A wide variety of legendary players has helped lead the A's to their success, and included among these players has been a number of incredibly talented catchers. 

This article focuses specifically on these men, as we highlight Oakland's best backstops since 1901.

Wins Above Replacement (WAR)

Wins Above Replacement, also called WAR, is a statistic used in baseball to measure the combined amount of defensive and offensive value of a given player.  

If you're curious about WAR and want to learn more, you should start here.

For this article in particular, we looked back to 1901 and researched every catcher that has played for the Athletics and ranked each by a player’s career and single-season WAR (based on the formula used by Fangraphs, called fWAR).  

To find out who the top Oakland As catchers are based on WAR, keep scrolling!

Top 3 A's Catchers by Career WAR

Please note: A catcher must have at least 100 defensive games played as a member of the A's to be eligible for our career WAR list.

#1. Mickey Cochrane, 50.6 career WAR

Mickey Cochrane diving to make the tag
Mickey Cochrane diving to get the runner - one of the greatest pictures of a catcher ever taken

The best Athletics catcher in team history is Hall of Famer Mickey Cochrane. He played for the Philadelphia A's from 1925 - 1933. 

Cochrane hit .320/.419/.478 over his 13 year MLB career. He collected a total of 1,652 hits, 119 home runs and 830 RBIs.

Cochrane caught over 12,000 big league innings and kept a .985 fielding percentage. He threw out a total 388 runners attempting to steal, good for a 39% caught stealing percentage (CS%). 

He was a two-time all star and he won two MVP awards, one of which came during his time with the A's (1928). 

Cochrane also won three World Series rings during his career, two with the Philadelphia A's (1929 and 1930) and one with the 1935 Detroit Tigers.

#2. Gene Tenace, 45.0 career WAR

Gene Tenace scores the winning run to end game 1 of the 1972 World Series
Gene Tenace scores the winning run to end game 1 of the 1972 World Series

In 1965, the Kansas City A's drafted Gene Tenace out of Valley High School in Ohio. He made his big league debut as the Oakland catcher four years later and went on to spend 15 seasons in the majors for the Athletics, Padres, Cardinals and Pirates.

Over the course of his career, Tenace had 1,060 hits, 201 of which were home runs. His lifetime slash line was .241/.388/.429 and he had 674 RBIs.

In 892 games caught, Tenace had a .986 fielding percentage and a 36% CS%. 

Tenace made one all star team (1975) and won four World Series championships, including three in a row with the A's between 1972 - 1974. He was the World Series MVP in the 1972 Series. 

#3. Wally Schang, 41.0 career WAR

wally schang of the athletics
A former A's catcher who should be in Cooperstown, Wally Schang

Wally Schang played in the big leagues between 1913 and 1931. Six of those years were spent with the Philadelphia Athletics.

The switch hitting Schang collected a total of 1,506 hits in 5,307 at bats, good for a .284 career batting average. 

Defensively, Schang played in 1,435 games as a catcher and had a .967 fielding average and a 46% CS%.

The switch-hitting Schang won three World Series titles with three different teams. He won one with Connie Mack's 1913 A's, one with the 1918 Red Sox, and one with Babe Ruth and the 1923 Yankees.

Top 3 Seasons by A's Catchers, Ranked by WAR

Please note: A catcher must have at least 70 defensive games played in one season as a member of the A's to be eligible for the single-season WAR list.

#1. 1933 - Mickey Cochrane (6.2 WAR)

mickey cochrane catcher
Hall of Fame catcher Mickey Cochrane (image source: Getty Images)

The best season among A’s catchers in team history, based on WAR, was Mickey Cochrane’s 1933 campaign. 

Cochrane in 1933 hit .322 and led all players in the major leagues with a .459 on-base percentage (OBP). He finished the season in the league's top 10 for batting average, slugging percentage (.515), runs (104), home runs (15), walks (106) and hit by pitch (3), among others.

Cochrane played 1,052 innings behind the plate for the Athletics in 1933. He maintained a .989 fielding percentage as a catcher and gunned down 37 runners attempting to steal, good for a 45% CS%. 

#2. (tied) 1931 and 1932 - Mickey Cochrane (5.6 WAR) and 1975 - Gene Tenace (5.6 WAR)

one of the best a's catchers of all time, mickey cochrane
Cochrane warming up pre-game

Mickey Cochrane had two great back-to-back seasons in 1931 and 1932, in which he had a 5.6 WAR each year.

In 1931, Cochrane powered the A’s to the World Series with his .349 batting average, his career high .553 slugging percentage and .976 OPS. Behind the plate, he had a .986 fielding percentage and a 46% CS% in 117 defensive games.

The following season, Cochrane smashed a career high 23 home runs and drove in 112 RBIs, which was the only time in his career he’d hit triple digits in RBIs. 

Defensively, Cochrane led all AL catchers in 1932 in defensive games (137), putouts (652), assists (94), double plays turned (15), runners caught stealing (47) and fielding percentage (.993).

gene tenace 1975 ALC
Gene Tenace during the 1975 ALCS against the Boston Red Sox

Approximately 43 years later, Gene Tenace matched Cochrane’s 5.6 WAR from the 1931 and 1932 seasons. 

Tenace set a career high in home runs (29) and RBIs (87) in 1975, leading to his first and only all star game appearance of his career. 

Behind the dish, Tenace played 932 innings as a catcher in '75, and he kept a .984 fielding percentage and a 34% CS% that season.

#3. 1930 - Mickey Cochrane (5.2 WAR)

mickey cochrane 1930 world series
Cochrane tags Watty Watkins of the St. Louis Cardinals out during the 1930 World Series

Mickey Cochrane was a hitting machine in 1930. He had a career high 174 hits, 42 doubles and a .357 batting average that year.

The Hall of Famer led all AL catchers in 1930 in defensive games (130), putouts (654), assists (69), double plays turned (11) and fielding percentage (.993).

Cochrane was a significant contributor to the 1930 Philadelphia A's, a team that went 102 - 52 and defeated the St. Louis Cardinals in six games to win the World Series.

List of All A's Catchers With a 2.0+ WAR Season

A 2.0 WAR or better season by a catcher typically indicates that they had a productive year. 

Many different Athletics catchers have reached - and in some cases - far exceed this number since the A's got their start in the AL back in 1901.   

Check out the below list to see every Oakland A's catcher in franchise history to have had a season with a WAR that was 2.0 or better.

1933Mickey Cochrane6.2
1932Mickey Cochrane5.6
1975Gene Tenace5.6
1931Mickey Cochrane5.6
1930Mickey Cochrane5.2
2022Sean Murphy5.1
1929Mickey Cochrane4.5
1974Gene Tenace4.5
1927Mickey Cochrane4.2
1992Terry Steinbach4.0
1996Terry Steinbach3.9
1976Gene Tenace3.9
2008Kurt Suzuki3.9
1928Mickey Cochrane3.7
1940Frankie Hayes3.6
2003Ramon Hernandez3.3
2021Sean Murphy3.3
1987Terry Steinbach3.2
1941Frankie Hayes3.0
1939Frankie Hayes2.9
2006Jason Kendall2.9
1916Wally Schang2.8
2013Derek Norris2.8
1925Mickey Cochrane2.8
1994Terry Steinbach2.7
2001Ramon Hernandez2.7
1995Terry Steinbach2.7
1914Wally Schang2.7
1973Ray Fosse2.6
1917Wally Schang2.6
1985Mike Heath2.6
1972Dave Duncan2.6
1988Terry Steinbach2.5
1915Jack Lapp2.5
1911Jack Lapp2.4
1913Wally Schang2.3
1993Terry Steinbach2.3
1944Frankie Hayes2.3
1971Dave Duncan2.2
1978Jim Essian2.1
1938Frankie Hayes2.1
1971Gene Tenace2.0
1926Mickey Cochrane2.0
1946Buddy Rosar2.0
1938Earle Brucker2.0

A's Catchers over the Last 10 Years

Please note: catchers below are ordered based on the number of games caught that season for the A's. Those with the most games caught begin at the top. 

2013 A's - Finished first in AL West, lost ALDS

  • Derek Norris (primary)
  • John Jaso
  • Stephen Vogt
  • Kurt Suzuki


2014 A's - Finished second in AL West, lost AL Wild Card Game

  • Derek Norris (primary)
  • John Jaso
  • Stephen Vogt
  • Geovany Soto


2015 A's - Finished fifth in AL West

  • Stephen Vogt (primary)
  • Josh Phegley
  • Carson Blair
  • Bryan Anderson


2016 A's - Finished fifth in AL West

  • Stephen Vogt (primary)
  • Bruce Maxwell
  • Josh Phegley
  • Matt McBride


2017 A's - Finished fifth in AL West

  • Bruce Maxwell (primary)
  • Josh Phegley
  • Stephen Vogt
  • Dustin Garneau
  • Ryan Lavarnway


2018 A's - Finished second in AL West, lost AL Wild Card Game

  • Jonathan Lucroy (primary)
  • Josh Phegley
  • Bruce Maxwell
  • Beau Taylor


2019 A's - Finished second in AL West, lost AL Wild Card Game

  • Josh Phegley (primary)
  • Nick Hundley
  • Chris Herrmann
  • Sean Murphy
  • Beau Taylor
  • Dustin Garneau


2020 A's - Finished first in AL West, lost ALDS

  • Sean Murphy (primary)
  • Austin Allen
  • Jonah Heim


2021 A's - Finished third in AL West

  • Sean Murphy (primary)
  • Yan Gomes
  • Aramis Garcia
  • Austin Allen


2022 A's - Finished fifth in AL West

  • Sean Murphy (primary)
  • Stephen Vogt
  • Shea Langeliers
  • Christian Bethancourt
  • Austin Allen


Complete List of All A's Catchers Over the Last 10 Years

The following list shows all Oakland Athletics catchers that have played in at least one defensive game as a catcher for the A's since the 2012 season. 

Players are listed in alphabetical order by first name.

  • Aramis Garcia
  • Austin Allen
  • Beau Taylor
  • Bruce Maxwell
  • Bryan Anderson
  • Carson Blair
  • Chris Herrmann
  • Christian Bethancourt
  • Derek Norris
  • Dustin Garneau
  • Geovany Soto
  • John Jaso
  • Jonah Heim
  • Jonathan Lucroy
  • Josh Phegley
  • Kurt Suzuki
  • Matt McBride
  • Nick Hundley
  • Ryan Lavarnway
  • Sean Murphy
  • Shea Langeliers
  • Stephen Vogt
  • Yan Gomes


That's A Wrap!

Thanks so much for taking the time to read this article. We hope you found it interesting, and we’re glad you stopped by Catchers Home.

If you have questions or comments, please get in touch. You can send us a message via our contact page or you can send an email to scott (at) catchershome (dot) com.


Sources for this Article

  • Baseball Reference
  • Fangraphs
  • Oakland Tribune
  • Retrosheet
  • SABR


Scott Perry is the owner and lead author at Catchers Home. He's a former baseball player, a current coach, a husband and a Dad. He remains as passionate about baseball today as he was as a kid.