Sunday, May 17, 2015

Why Don't the Arizona Diamondbacks Wear That Number Anymore?

Every team in the league has its own legends.  Some legends tower over the history of the game.  Some tower over a certain portion of the history.  Some define an organization and are the first thought anyone has when the team is mentioned.

Each team finds a way to honor their legends, usually with the retirement of the player's number.  For the fans of that team it is easy to sit in the stadium seats, look out on the display of retired numbers and feel pride in the part that number represents to their history.  Unfortunately, fans of the visiting team stopping  by to see a game may not know the meaning of those numbers.

So during this series we will explore what the retired numbers for each team mean and why they were retired.

So far in this series we have seen the San Diego Padres, San Francisco Giants and Los Angeles Dodgers.  This week we will look at the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Luis Gonzalez had big expectations placed on him when he came up with the Houston Astros.  He did not live up to the unrealistic expectations.  Gonzales had already completed his 9th year in the majors when the Tigers traded him to Arizona for Outfielder Karim Garcia before the 1999 season. Gonzalez immediately made an impact.  He became a 4 time All Star and finished third in MVP voting during the Diamondbacks World Series season.  Gonzalez would play a total of 8 years with the team and got the game winning hit off of Mariano Rivera when the Diamondbacks won their only World Series in 2001.  Gonzalez leads the teams statistics in many categories: WAR (1st), Offensive WAR (1st) , Average (1st), OBP (1st), Slugging % (1st), OBP (1st), Games (1st), At Bats (1st), Plate Appearances (1st), Runs (1st), Hits (1st), Total Bases (1st), Doubles (1st), Triples (6th), Home Runs (1st), RBI (1st), Walks (1st), Singles (1st), Extra Base Hits (1st), Times on Base (1st), Hit By Pitch (1st), Sac Fly (1st), Intentional Walks (1st).  In the Diamondbacks first season Jeff Suppan wore the number 20.  No other player has worn the number.

The Diamondbacks played their first Major League game in 1998.  By the time they started play the number 42 had already been retired in honor of Jackie Robinson..  No player ever wore the number for Arizona.

Although the starting Center Fielder on the Diamondbacks World Series team does not often get mentioned in the Hall  of Fame conversation, he may get future consideration for number retirement by the Diamondbacks.  He ranks highly on the Arizona leader boards in a number of categories including: WAR (2nd) Offensive WAR (2nd), Defensive WAR (8th), Average (8th), On Base Percentage (7th), Slugging Percentage (3rd). On Base Percentage (4th), Games Played (4th). At Bats (3rd), Plate Appearances (3rd), Runs (2nd), Hits (2nd), Total Bases (2nd), Doubles (6th), Triples (3rd), Home Runs (2nd), RBI (2nd), Walks (3ed), Strikeouts (8th). Stolen Bases (5th), Singles (5th), Extra Base Hits (3rd), Times on Base (2nd), Hit by Pitch (8th), Sac Flies (3rd), Intentional Walks (4th), Stolen Base % (2nd), At Bats Per K (8th), At Bats Per Home Run (2nd),

Often overshadowed by the likes of Gonzales, Matt Williams and Mark Grace on offense and Johnson/Schilling on the mound, this player was known as Centerfield defensive star.  While with San Diego he won four Gold Gloves and made two All Star Teams, receiving MVP votes in the Padres 1996 playoff appearance (their first since 1984) and was a key piece of the Padres 1998 World Series team.  He won a fifth Gold Glove in 2004 and received MVP votes that year.

During the 2004 season he was traded to the Dodgers where he hit an iconic Grand Slam to win the NL West title for the Dodgers over the Giants on the final weekend of the season.  He went on to play for the Angels, Giants and Rockies before retiring in 2007,  Prior to his National League play he had been one of the bright young stars in a crowded Orioles outfield that included defensive stars Brady Anderson, Mike Devereaux and Joe Orsulak, which led to his inclusion in one of the worst trades in baseball history.

Who is he?

Answer to Last Week's Question:
Despite all the qualifications listed last week Steve Garvey has not been elected to the Hall of Fame and has not had his number retired by the Dodgers (though he has by the Padres).  Garvey became eligible for the Hall of Fame in 1993 and received 41.6% of the vote.  Only Reggie Jackson was elected during that year.  He reached a high of 42.6% of the votes in 1995, although only Mike Schmidt was elected that year.  He never fell below 20% of the vote but never came truly close to the required percentage.  In 2007 Garvey fell off the ballot.

1 comment:

  1. Ooh I think I know the trivia! Is it Steve Finley?

    Also, I know the Diamondbacks are a relatively new team, but I was still surprised to read that they only have one retired number.


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