Euan Leith | May 23rd, 2020
The Arizona Diamondbacks are one of the newest teams to baseball after being founded in 1998. They have only been around 22 years, but have already added one World Series title in 2001. They have made the playoffs six times and won their division on five occasions.
Be sure to check out all of our Mount Rushmore articles here.
In just over two decades, Arizona has seen a lot of top players don a Diamondbacks uniform. The franchise has a lot of candidates for their Mount Rushmore. Curt Schilling, Zack Greinke, and Justin Upton have had their fair share of success in short stints with the squad, but was it enough to crack the top four for the team from the desert?
Randy Johnson (1999-2004, 2007-2008)
I started following baseball in 2005, so I missed the prime Randy Johnson experience in Arizona and only saw the twilight of his career. I’ve always heard how great he was, but it wasn’t until I started doing research for this article and watching his highlights and exploring baseball reference that I realized how truly dominant he was. He is on the Arizona Diamondbacks Mount Rushmore, but he could also be on the free-agent Mount Rushmore.
After Johnson signed as a free agent for the Diamondbacks in 1999, they made it all the way to the World Series in 2001. During game two against the New York Yankees, Johnson pitched a complete game shutout. He allowed three hits and struck out 11 Yankees to give Arizona a 2-0 lead in the series. Then, in a must-win situation, Johnson again picked up the win in front of the home crowd and tossed seven innings of two-run baseball to keep Arizona alive in the series. As if that wasn’t enough, he came in as a reliever on no rest to claim the win in game seven as the Diamondbacks walked it off in the bottom of the ninth inning. Johnson went 3-0 with a 1.04 ERA and 19 strikeouts in 17.1 innings and shared World Series MVP honors with Curt Schilling.
From 1999-2002, Big Unit pitched at least 245 innings every year and led the league each season in strikeouts. He won four-straight Cy Young Awards, made four-straight All-Star games, and reached the postseason three times. He has so many eye-popping accolades that I can’t list them all here, but he cements his case on the Diamondbacks Mount Rushmore with his 2001 postseason performance that won Arizona their first, and only, World Series title.
Paul Goldschmidt (2011-2018)
I’m not sure how many teams will have the odd circumstance of having an active player on their Mount Rushmore, but not on their roster. That’s where Paul Goldschmidt finds himself right now. Arizona traded him to the St. Louis Cardinals before the 2019 season, but what he accomplished in his eight years in Arizona makes him worthy for one of the four spots.
Goldy took on a full-time role during the 2012 season and was the cornerstone of the franchise for most of the following decade. He made six-straight All-Star appearances from 2013-2018 and finished top-three in MVP voting in 2013, 2015, and 2017. Goldschmidt added three Gold Glove awards and three Silver Sluggers during those six years.
The power-speed combination made the 2006 draft pick a unique first baseman during his time in the desert. He slashed .299/.400/.534 and averaged 31 home runs and 19 stolen bases per 162 games. Goldy holds the franchise lead in wins above replacement, on-base percentage, Slugging percentage, and ranks second in home runs, RBI, and stolen bases. He surely would have taken over the lead if he was still in a Diamondbacks uniform, but the level of production he had in such a short amount of time makes him a must on the Arizona Mount Rushmore.
Luis Gonzalez (1999-2006)
There was no way that Mr. November (at least in Arizona) was not going to make this list. Luis Gonzalez will always be remembered for the single he hit in the bottom of ninth of Game 7 that plated Jay Bell and won Arizona their only World Series title in 2001. Although that hit alone probably qualifies him for this list, he has several other qualifications to make the Diamondbacks Mount Rushmore.
From 1990-1998, he played for the Houston Astros, Chicago Cubs, and Detroit Tigers, where he was a solid but not spectacular player. That all changed when he arrived in the desert before the 1999 season, where Gonzalez became an instant success for the Diamondbacks. He led the National League with 206 hits and set new career-highs in home runs, RBI, batting average, on-base percentage, and slugging percentage. That upward trend continued throughout his time in an Arizona uniform.
The fourth-round pick from the 1988 draft made five All-Star games with the Diamondbacks, and Although his 2001 walk-off hit will be the highlight of that season, it’s hard to ignore what he did during the rest of that year. He made the All-Star team, won the Silver Slugger award, and finished third in MVP voting. He clobbered 57 home runs and drove in 142 runs while posting a 1.117 OPS. Gonzalez became a star in Arizona and provided the franchise with its most memorable moment. That resume makes him worthy of the third spot on the mountain.
Brandon Webb (2003-2009)
This one was close. It came down to Webb vs. Curt Schilling. I’m willing to hear arguments for Schilling, but the Brandon Webb story will always stand out to me. His superstardom burned bright and burned fast. It’s interesting to think what might have been for Webb had he stayed healthy after he started off on a Hall of Fame track.
Webb posted a 3.35 ERA and 1.31 WHIP during the first three seasons of his career. He turned the corner to become a real ace of the Diamondbacks staff in 2006. The big righty recorded a 3.10 ERA and 1.13 WHIP while leading the National League with 16 wins. He also made his first All-Star game and won the Cy Young award. Webb would follow that breakout season with a second-place finish in the 2007 Cy Young race and made the postseason for the first (and only) time in his career.
The 2008 season showed more promise with another second-place finish in the NL Cy Young award voting while leading all of baseball with 22 wins. Webb was a workhorse ace by the time the 2008 season ended. Diamondbacks fans were dreaming of watching him lead their staff for years to come. Unfortunately, that dream became a nightmare for Brandon Webb.
Webb started Opening Day for the 2009 season and was looking to start his sixth-straight season of pitching at least 200 innings. Unfortunately, he only made it four innings, and those would be the last four major league innings the hurler would ever throw. After dealing with numerous surgeries to his shoulder, Webb hung up his glove for good before the 2013 season. It’s a sad story, but it was filled with so many highlights that Webb beats out Curt Schilling for the final spot on the Arizona Diamondbacks Mount Rushmore.
Check out our Arizona Diamondbacks Team Preview for the 2020 season while we wait for baseball to get back on the field.
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