Major League Baseball is promoting an effort to identify the best four players in each team’s history with their "Franchise Four." We selected our choices for Mt. Rushmores a few years ago. Here are updated versions for all 30 teams. Who are the four baseball players that have risen above all others for each organization? The question sounds simple, right? Not so fast. Let the arguments begin.
Arizona Diamondbacks Mt. Rushmore
One of the two youngest franchises in baseball, the Diamondbacks joined the National League in 1998 and have enjoyed some postseason success, proving the world is different for expansion teams in recent years. Born the same year as the Tampa Bay Devil Rays, the D’backs won 100 games in their second season, still the high-water mark for the franchise. Free agent Randy Johnson was the ace of the staff. Three players — Steve Finley, Matt Williams and Jay Bell — hit as many as 34 homers and a fourth player, Luis Gonzalez, joined that group in driving in more than 100 runs. Tony Womack stole 72 bases, proving Arizona could win with speed and power. As with any franchise this young, the choices for Mt. Rushmore are few, and likely to change several times over the next 15 years.
The only Diamondback with his number retired, Gonzo is the franchise leader in every offensive category other than slugging, triples, strikeouts and steals. As a hitter in Arizona history, there is no equal. The left fielder spent eight seasons in Phoenix and made five All-Star teams, and was third in MVP voting in 2001. During those eight seasons, Gonzalez batted .298 and averaged 98 runs and 97 RBIs with 39 doubles and 28 homers; pretty good numbers even in the Steroid Era. He was there for three of the team’s four division titles, and had the most memorable hit in franchise history, the bloop single over second base for a World Series walk-off in 2001.
The Big Unit arrived in Arizona as a free agent in 1999 as a 35-year-old ace and immediately won four consecutive Cy Young awards. He shared the 2001 World Series MVP award with fellow ace, Curt Schilling. In two stints with the team, Johnson was present for the first four division titles. And during his eight seasons as a member of the Diamondbacks, the team averaged 85 wins per season.
A top center fielder, Finley won two Gold Gloves as a member of the D’backs. He scored 100 runs a couple of times and drove in 103 once. He hit more than 30 homers twice and was an All-Star in 2000. Finley ranks second behind Gonzalez on the D’backs career lists in most offensive categories.
Webb made 198 starts and won 87 games during his tenure with Arizona — all second to Johnson. The eighth-round draft pick in 2000 made his debut in 2003 and won the Cy Young award in 2006 before finishing second in the voting in 2007-08.
With just a little more time in Phoenix, Paul Goldschmidt would likely have earned a spot.
The 2001 World Series co-MVP, Curt Schilling, had too short of a tenure in Arizona to make the mountain. His career numbers in an Arizona uniform pale next to Webb’s.
Follow Charlie Miller on Twitter @AthlonCharlie or email him Charlie.Miller@AthlonSports.com
Other teams' Mt. Rushmores: