Arizona Diamondbacks All-Time Team
Last Word on Baseball is running a tournament pitting all 30 all-time rosters against each other. Here is the Arizona Diamondbacks all-time team. Although the older teams have terrifying rosters (see New York Yankees, Oakland Athletics, Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants, and Los Angeles Dodgers, for example), the Diamondbacks have a formidable one of their own.
Each roster has the eight position players, a designated hitter (for consistency), a starting pitcher, three relievers, and four honorable mentions. For the relievers, starters can be used if a) there aren’t enough elite relievers to fill out the roster or b) if the starters are simply too good to be excluded. Statistics used to determine the spots on the roster are only from each player’s time as a Diamondback. WAR was used as a baseline but not as the be-all, end-all statistic. Without further ado, here is the Arizona Diamondbacks All-Time Team.
Arizona Diamondbacks All-Time Tournament Team
Bob Brenly (303–262, .536) gets the nod as the manager for this team. Kirk Gibson had more wins (353), as did both Bob Melvin and current skipper Torey Lovullo (337), but Brenly had an advantage in two areas. For one, Brenly is the only manager in Diamondbacks history with a career winning percentage over .500. Secondly, Brenly’s average finish was 2.1 to 2.3 for Melvin, 3.0 for Gibson, and 3.2 for Lovullo.
Left-handed-hitting Miguel Montero gets the nod here. He spent nine seasons with the Diamondbacks, playing 1185 games. He slashed .264/.342/.421 (795-for-3017) with 172 doubles, six triples, 97 home runs, 448 RBI, and 365 runs scored. This translated to a .333 wOBA and 38.6 wRAA. (Recall that wRAA, weighted Runs Above Average, means that the team scored 38.6 more runs by having him bat instead of the average hitter in the league.)
His defense, while not stellar, was above average overall. In his nine seasons, he posted an Rtot (Total Zone Defensive Runs Above Average) of 20. This means that by having Montero at catcher instead of the average catcher in the league during his stint with the Diamondbacks, the Diamondbacks gave up 20 fewer runs. As far as WAR goes, Montero had more than twice as many as the next catcher on the list, Damian Miller — 13.6 for Montero versus 5.9 for Miller.
To the surprise of no one, this slot goes to Paul Goldschmidt. His numbers during his eight seasons as a Diamondback made him a six-time All-Star. In 1,469 games, he slashed .297/.398/.532 (1182-for-3975) with 267 doubles, 19 triples, 209 home runs, 710 RBI, and 709 runs scored. He also walked 655 times and stole 124 bases. These numbers made for a .393 wOBA and 293.8 wRAA.
Goldschmidt led the NL in homers (36), RBI (125), and slugging percentage (.551) during the 2013 season, when he finished second in MVP voting behind Andrew McCutchen. As a Diamondback, Goldschmidt received MVP votes in four other seasons, finishing second in 2015, eleventh in 2016, third in 2017, and sixth in 2018. He also won the Silver Slugger four times and a Gold Glove three times, posting an aggregate Rtot of 39. In WAR as a Diamondbacks first baseman, Goldschmidt is light years ahead of the next player on the list, Christian Walker. Goldschmidt has 39.9 to 3.9 for Walker and 2.2 for Mark Grace, who is third on the list.
There are good arguments for Orlando Hudson, Aaron Hill, Jay Bell, or Craig Counsell in this role. However, the best player for this position is Ketel Marte. The switch-hitter has played 505 games in his five seasons with the Diamondbacks. And what a five years it’s been. He has slashed .295/.358/.495 (540-for-1833) with 116 doubles, 25 triples, 67 home runs, 236 RBI, 266 runs scored, and 22 stolen bases in 26 attempts. This has given him a .360 wOBA and 74.0 wRAA. In his 2019 All-Star season, he missed the batting title by one hit, narrowly losing out to Christian Yelich. Defensively, while Marte is slightly below average in center field, he does well at second base. His Rtot during his 1913 2/3 defensive innings as a Diamondbacks second baseman is 18.
(Author’s Note: I really, REALLY wanted to put Tony Womack here, but the numbers simply cannot back this up.) Based solely on defense, this would go to Nick Ahmed hands down. When considering all-around play, this spot narrowly goes to Stephen Drew. Ahmed is number two among active shortstops in career Rtot with 75 (Andrelton Simmons, 124). However, offensively, his wRAA as a Diamondback is -68.1, second-lowest among position players with 500 or more at-bats. (Tony Womack has -79.8.) Stephen Drew, conversely, is the only player who was primarily a shortstop to even be in the top 30 for wRAA as a Diamondback.
Drew played 773 games as a Diamondback over seven seasons. He slashed .266/.328/.436 (776-for-2917) with 176 doubles, 52 triples (most in team history), 72 homers, 333 RBI, and 393 runs scored. This translates to a .331 wOBA and 12.9 wRAA. Defensively, he was below average with -15 Rtot — not even in the same galaxy as Ahmed. In WAR, Drew had 13.2 as a Diamondback, beating Ahmed by 0.8.
Matt Williams spent the final six years of his 17-year career in Arizona, racking up 8.3 WAR to lead all Diamondbacks who were primarily third baseman. We will not dispute his inclusion on this team. He finished third in the NL MVP voting in 1999 to go with being one of the first two Diamondbacks (Jay Bell was the other) to start an All-Star Game. In 595 games, Williams slashed .278/.327/.471 (629-for-2265) with 127 doubles, seven triples, 99 home runs, 381 RBI, 163 walks, and 317 runs scored. This translated to a .340 wOBA and 13.7 wRAA. Defensively, he had an Rtot of 21 as a Diamondback third baseman across 4936 2/3 defensive innings. He finished with 0 Rtot in his last season, 2003. In all other seasons, he was in the positive. Can’t go wrong with Williams here.
This is another obvious choice — Luis Gonzalez, one of only two Diamondbacks to have his number retired. Gonzalez and Goldschmidt are first and second (in some order) in team history for almost every offensive category. Among players who were primarily left fielders, Gonzalez is first in WAR as a Diamondback with 30.0 — more than twice as many as the runner-up, David Peralta (14.4). In 1194 games across eight seasons, he slashed .298/.391/.529 (1337-for-4488) with 310 doubles, 27 triples, 224 homers, 774 RBI, 650 walks (versus 580 strikeouts), and 780 runs scored. This gave him a wOBA of .390 and 259.3 wRAA. Furthermore, he had five All-Star appearances and a Silver Slugger in a Diamondbacks uniform. Easy choice here.
Steve Finley takes the center field spot for the Diamondbacks All-Time Tournament Team. He appeared in 849 games across six seasons (well, 5 2/3 seasons). During that time, he slashed .278/.351/.500 (847-for-3049) with 150 doubles, 34 triples, 153 home runs, 479 RBI, and 491 runs scored. This gave him a .362 wOBA and 85.1 wRAA. His wRAA is fourth-highest in Diamondbacks history. Defensively, he was among the best in the National League during his time with the Diamondbacks, winning three Gold Glove awards with an Rtot of 28.
Justin Upton, who is third all-time in wRAA as a Diamondback, gets the nod in right field. The first-ever #1 overall draft pick in team history (2005) played 731 games across six seasons for the Diamondbacks. His WAR as a Diamondback is more than four times as high as the runner-up among primary right fielders, 13.7 to 3.3 for Reggie Sanders. Upton slashed .278/.357/.475 (739-for-2663) with 147 doubles, 28 triples, 108 home runs, 363 RBI, and 438 runs scored. This made out to a .359 wOBA and 91.1 wRAA.
The designated hitter spot goes to David Peralta, with apologies to AJ Pollock. In eight seasons with the Diamondbacks, Peralta has played in 874 games. He slashed .286/.342/.463 (891-for-3119) with 172 doubles, 44 triples (leading the league in two seasons), 98 home runs, 427 RBI, and 405 runs scored. His wOBA was .345, making 79.1 wRAA — fifth on the all-time Diamondbacks leaderboard.
This was easy. The starting nod goes to Hall of Fame lefty Randy Johnson, with Curt Schilling and Brandon Webb taking up two of the three spots in the ‘pen. (Side note: they finished 1–2–3, respectively, in ERA-minus among those who pitched 500+ innings with the club.)
Johnson, the other Diamondback with a retired number, pitched 233 games (232 starts) across eight seasons with the Diamondbacks. His only regular-season relief appearance was essentially a start, however, as he took the hill to complete a suspended game. Despite receiving abysmal run support at times, the 6’10” fireballer had a record of 118-62 with a 2.83 ERA (62 ERA–), 38 complete games, 14 shutouts, 2077 strikeouts, 416 walks, and a 1.068 WHIP across 1630 1/3 innings. His strikeout percentage (K%) was 31.6% and his walk percentage (BB%) was 6.3% — a difference (K–BB%) of 25.3%.
Curt Schilling pitched all or part of four seasons with the Diamondbacks, coming over in a mid-season trade in 2000. In 108 appearances, he went 58–28 with a 3.14 ERA (70 ERA–), 875 strikeouts, 117 walks, and a 1.036 WHIP across 781 2/3 innings. He also had a K% of 28.2%, BB% of 3.8%, and K–BB% of 24.4%.
Brandon Webb pitched six full seasons with the Diamondbacks (2003–2008) before suffering a career-ending shoulder injury on Opening Day 2009. In 199 appearances, he went 87–62 with a 3.27 ERA (72 ERA–), 1065 strikeouts, 435 walks, and a 1.239 WHIP across 1319 2/3 innings. He had a K% of 19.3%, BB% of 7.9%, and K–BB% of 11.3%.
Final Relief Spot
This was tougher than one would expect for a franchise whose weakness throughout its history has been back-end relief. It came down to a final three of Byung-Hyun Kim, J.J. Putz, and Jose Valverde, with apologies to Brad Ziegler. The winner was Jose Valverde.
Valverde — dubbed “El Papá Grande” by then-color commentator Jim Traber — pitched the first five of his 12 career seasons with the Diamondbacks. He pitched 260 innings in 253 appearances, posting a 3.29 ERA (71 ERA–) and a 1.173 WHIP. In those appearances, he had a 30.3 K%, 10.2 BB%, and 20.2 K–BB%. He had 98 saves — most in franchise history — against 16 blown saves. In goose eggs, he also performed well: 102 Goose Eggs, 20 Broken Eggs, and 14 Mehs — a 5.1 ratio of GE/BE (historical average is 3.0). His Situational Wins (Win Probability Added divided by Leverage Index) came out to 3.6.
Aaron Hill, Chris Young, Jay Bell, AJ Pollock
Batting Order and Pitching Staff for Arizona Diamondbacks All-Time Tournament Team
|1||Stephen Drew (SS)|
|2||Ketel Marte (2B)|
|3||Luis Gonzalez (LF)|
|4||Paul Goldschmidt (1B)|
|5||Matt Williams (3B)|
|6||Steve Finley (CF)|
|7||Justin Upton (RF)|
|8||David Peralta (DH)|
|9||Miguel Montero (C)|
Pitchers: Randy Johnson (Starter), Curt Schilling, Brandon Webb, Jose Valverde
Stay tuned in the coming days for coverage of the all-time tournament, including matchups and the results.
Bob Brenly, Kirk Gibson, Bob Melvin, Torey Lovullo, Miguel Montero, Damian Miller, Paul Goldschmidt, Andrew McCutchen, Christian Walker, Mark Grace, Orlando Hudson, Aaron Hill, Jay Bell, Craig Counsell, Ketel Marte, Christian Yelich, Tony Womack, Nick Ahmed, Stephen Drew, Andrelton Simmons, Matt Williams, Luis Gonzalez, David Peralta, Steve Finley, Justin Upton, Reggie Sanders, AJ Pollock, Randy Johnson, Curt Schilling, Brandon Webb, Byung-Hyun Kim, J.J. Putz, Jose Valverde, Brad Ziegler, Jim Traber, Chris Young