The Arizona Diamondbacks Mount Rushmore is the fourth in a series revealing the top four players for each franchise as selected by writers and fans.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have an identity issue. The club has won a World Series and made the playoffs in just its second year of major league play. Yet the Dbacks have a collective losing record in regular-season play. Are the Diamondbacks winners, lovable losers, or something in between? Far more importantly, the club cannot pick a consistent uniform style for the life of it.
What defines a franchise?
Phoenix has fielded a professional baseball team for more than a century. Like many capital city clubs, the first name employed by Phoenix was the Senators. The Stars, Giants, and Firebirds followed until the Diamondbacks joined the National League in 1998.
Most historians and fans count these as distinct entities.
For the purposes of this series, however, OTH is embracing the idea that these iterations are one club telling a shared story. These teams represented the valley in professional baseball in summer leagues. They played with Phoenix or Arizona written proudly on their uniforms. They share a common fanbase that enjoyed successes and lamented failures.
This series of articles serves, in part, as an attempt to recapture the legacy of those earlier teams. OTH recognizes that while an owner may move the corporate structure, the legacy belongs to the fans and the city for which the team played.
The NBA and NFL have recognized the validity behind this line of thinking. The modern Charlotte Hornets inherited the legacy of the Hornets that moved to New Orleans. The modern Cleveland Browns inherited the legacy of the Browns that moved to Baltimore. Now Rob Manfred and MLB need to do the same.
1915 in the minors; 1998 in the majors
- Senators (1915-1953)
- Stars (1954-1957)
- Giants (1958-1985)
- Firebirds (1986-1997)
- Diamondbacks (1998-2021)
World Series (1)
National League pennant (1)
Pacific Coast League pennants (2)
Arizona-Mexico League pennant (1)
Arizona-Texas League pennants (2)
Arizona Diamondbacks Mount Rushmore
After counting votes from OTH writers and baseball fans, here are the top four players in Arizona Diamondbacks history.
- Arizona Years: 2011-2018
- Arizona Stats: 39.9 WAR, .297/.398/.532, 1,182 H, 267 2B, 209 HR
Paul Goldschmidt has now graced two OTH best-of lists, and he has earned both spots. But it did not always look like the Texan would become one of the modern greats in baseball. Overlooked by most major league teams, Goldschmidt played college ball for the Texas State Bobcats for two seasons. He played so well that he was named to the All-American team and selected in the eighth round of the Major League Baseball draft by the Diamondbacks.
He hit safely in his first MLB at bat, and the hits did not stop. Goldschmidt led the National League in home runs, runs batted in, slugging, on-base plus slugging, adjusted OPS, total bases, and intentional walks in 2013. He received Most Valuable Player votes in five of his eight Arizona seasons. To drive home his place on the Arizona Diamondbacks Mount Rushmore, Goldschmidt performed excellently in both of his postseason trips.
- Arizona Years: 1999-2004, 2007-2008
- Arizona Stats: 52.6 WAR, 2.83 ERA, 2,077 K, 164 ERA+, 1.068 WHIP, 11.5 K/9, 2.73 FIP
The Californian won four consecutive Cy Young Awards while posting other-worldly numbers against some of the toughest batters in the history of the game. In those seasons, Johnson recorded earned run averages of 2.76, 2.53. 2.13, 2.66 and WHIPs of 1.020, 1.118, 1.009, 1.031. He buttressed these regular season stats with playoff success, including earning the 2001 World Series MVP behind a 1.04 ERA, 0.692 WHIP, and 19 strikeouts over 17.1 innings across three games.
- Arizona Years: 1999-2006
- Arizona Stats: 30.0 WAR, .298/.391/.529, 1,337 H, 310 2B, 224 HR, 2,737 TB
Gonzalez first became known to this author during his brief stay with the Chicago Cubs. He showed some promise but nothing suggestive of what was to come in Arizona. In addition to the statistics cited above, the Floridian hit 57 homers in 2001, led the National League in hits in 1999, and received MVP votes in three campaigns. Moreover, he literally won the Diamondbacks the World Series.
- Arizona Years: 2003-2009
- Arizona Stats: 31.1 WAR, 3.27 ERA, 1.239 WHIP, 1,065 K, 3.50 FIP
Brandon Webb enjoyed a brief but impressive career with the Diamondbacks. The right-hander finished third in rookie of the year voting in his inaugural campaign with a 2.84 ERA and 1.151 WHIP. He led the National League in complete games once, shutouts twice, innings pitched once, adjusted ERA twice, and fielding-independent pitching once. The Kentuckian received Cy Young Award votes in three seasons, winning the honor in 2006.
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