When the Oakland A’s beat the Astros on Thursday, they tallied their 9,000th win in franchise history. That dates back over a century to 1901, when the team began play in Philadelphia.
Here are nine facts about those 9,000 victories. Numbers listed are through Thursday’s games, so they don’t count this past weekend.
1. They’re the 14th team to reach 9,000
I promise the facts get more fun after this, but we have to start somewhere. There are 13 other teams with more wins all-time, which is more than I would have guessed off-hand. They are (in order) the Giants (eww) (11,149), Cubs, Dodgers, Cardinals, Braves, Reds, Pirates, Yankees, Phillies, Red Sox, Indians, Tigers, and White Sox (9,265).
However, remember that eight of those teams got a significant head start, specifically the NL clubs. They have official beginnings between 1876 (Cubs, Braves) and 1884 (Dodgers), whereas the A’s and the rest of the AL debuted in 1901. Cut it down to just the fellow 1901 AL teams (plus the Yankees, from 1903), and the A’s are sixth out of eight (still waiting on the Twins and Orioles). Still not great, but better!
Of course, before any of those other teams get too cocky about their regular season win totals, remember that the A’s are still tied for the third-most championships in history, with nine. Only the Yankees and Cardinals have more.
2. Losing record
OK seriously the fun parts of this list are coming soon, but one more stinker first.
One reason it took so long for the A’s to reach 9,000 is that, among these top 14 winningest franchises, they’re one of only two with a sub-.500 record. The other is coincidentally the Phillies, the other team that began in Philadelphia. (The Twins and Orioles will join this losing-record club in the next few years when they hit 9,000 wins.) The A’s stand at .488, and 439 games below the .500 mark.
Of course, much of that damage was done while still in Philly, where they were often abysmal in between brief stretches of dominance. Even more of it came in Kansas City, where they were literally hijacked by the Yankees for corrupt use as an unofficial farm team. Those Philly/KC versions of the A’s lost 100 games 15 times, whereas in Oakland they’ve only done so once in 50 years. Meanwhile, half of the franchise’s 100-win seasons came in Oakland.
Which leads us to ...
3. 5th-most wins since moving to Oakland
The A’s relocated to California in 1968, and since then they have a much more positive place in the league’s history. Their 4,285 wins in their current home are the 5th-most in MLB during that time, trailing just the Yankees (4,624), Red Sox, Dodgers, and Cardinals (4,351). Their .519 winning percentage is also fifth, so this one isn’t just a matter of getting a head start over later expansion teams; they’re one of only 11 franchises with a winning record since ‘68.
4. Breakdown by city
To really drive home how much the Oakland A’s are picking up the slack for their predecessors, here’s the breakdown by city.
- PHI (54 yrs): 3,886-4,248 (.478), 8 playoffs, 5 titles
- KC (13 yrs): 829-1,224 (.404), 0 playoffs, 0 titles
- OAK (51+ yrs): 4,285-3,967 (.519), 19 playoffs, 4 titles
As noted earlier, the Philly A’s were often terrible, but at least they had their moments. The KC squad never even made the playoffs, and peaked at 74-86 in 1966.
5. Keep it 100
In MLB history, 105 different teams have won 100 games in a season. Ten of those were A’s squads, including five from Philly (‘10, ‘11, ‘29, ‘30, ‘31) and five from Oakland (‘71, ‘88, ‘90, ‘01, ‘02). Only the Yankees have more 100-win campaigns, with 20 in their history, while the Cardinals are next with nine.
6. Mack earned over a third of the wins
When thinking of the most unbreakable records in sports, not enough attention is given to Connie Mack. He managed the A’s for half a century, a full 50 years from 1901 to 1950, and along the way he led the team to 3,582 victories. That’s still nearly 40% of their all-time total.
Next on the A’s managerial list is Tony La Russa, with 798 over a highly successful decade as the skipper. Expand the scope to all MLB managers, and tack on another 149 wins that Mack earned with the Pirates from 1894-96, and he’s nearly 1,000 ahead of runner-up John McGraw (2,763), with La Russa another few dozen behind in third place.
And who will ever pass Mack? Joe Torre and Bobby Cox each managed for 29 years, often leading dominant dynasties, and with 162-game schedules instead of 154, and they only got two-thirds of the way to Mack’s win total. La Russa went for 33 years, which seemed like forever. That trio all began their careers between ages 34-37, so it’s hard to see managers starting much younger than that to make up the difference. Mack himself began with the Pirates at 31, and the A’s at 37. Someone is going to have to start young and go until they’re 85 in order to break Mack’s record. Has that person even debuted in the dugout yet?
7. Melvin in the 700 club
After Mack and La Russa, next on the A’s all-time list is none other than Bob Melvin, the current skipper. He hit 700 earlier in August, and Thursday was his 703rd victory (he’s now at 705 as of Sunday). He should pass Tony next season and move into second place.
8. Another 83 playoff wins
In addition to those 9,000 regular season wins, the A’s also have an 83-74 postseason record. Those 83 playoff victories rank fifth place behind only the Yankees, Cardinals, Giants, and Red Sox, though they’re just one ahead of the Braves, leaving open the chance that Atlanta could pass them this fall.
9. It was their 69th win of 2019
A few days later, Oakland is now 71-53 on the year. That’s the eighth-best record in the majors, but unfortunately it leaves them 1.5 games out of the second Wild Card for now. If they can snag that playoff berth then it will be their 28th all-time, which would tie the Cardinals for third place, unless St. Louis also hangs on to reach October — they’re currently tied with the Cubs for first place in the NL Central, but the third-place Brewers and a couple other clubs are only two games back from knocking the Redbirds out of the picture completely.
Congrats to the A’s on 9,000 wins! Or should I say, 9,002 now.
Note: But wait! There’s still the suspended game from May, which the A’s currently lead in the 7th inning over the Tigers. It will be resumed and completed in a few weeks. If the A’s hold on to win that game, then does that retroactively count as a win from May? And would that mean their 9,000th franchise victory won’t actually have been Thursday against the Astros, but rather the day before, on Wednesday against the Giants?