Diamondbacks All-Time Top 10. #7. Matt Williams


Matt Williams

Acquired: 12/1/97. Traded by the Cleveland Indians to the Arizona Diamondbacks for Travis Fryman, Tom Martin, and cash.
Career with AZ: .278/.327/.471 - 99 HR, 381 RBI
Best year 1999: .303/.344/.536 - 35 HR, 142 RBI
Records: Single-season RBIs (142 in 1999).
Other facts: 5th in games played (595) and runs (317), 4th in hits (629), 3rd in HR (99), doubles (127) and RBI (381).
Biggest moment: 3rd in the 1999 NL MVP balloting, scoring the most points of any D'back ever. To this day, he is the only one to receive any first-place votes.
Departed: 6/29/2003. Released by the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Williams was perhaps the franchise's first star, whose arrival in a trade with Cleveland was an early statement by Colangelo that he wasn't hanging around waiting for talent to develop. A four-time Gold Glover and All-Star before he arrived here (he tacked on a fifth All-Star jersey in 1999), Williams was a cornerstone in the opening year of the Diamondbacks.

It was the following year when Matt really took off, driving home 142 RBIs with 35 HR and an .880 OPS that was almost a career-high for a full season. He did post highs for hits and doubles, and his fielding at the hot corner was outstanding, making only ten errors all year. Basically, imagine the power of Troy Glaus (2005 OPS: .885) combined with actual defensive capabilities, and a fondness for delivering in clutch situations.

Unfortunately, that was his last full season. He broke a bone in his foot the next spring training, though he did appear in 106 games during the 2001 season, and hit a 3-run homer in game 2 of the World Series. But the following years saw a marked decline in output and playing time. In November 2002, Williams vetoed a trade which would have brought Larry Walker to Arizona, citing his family as reason.

That move soured some fans against Williams, but he was never really all that popular: he was even booed at BOB during the 2001 NLDS against the Cardinals. The hefty contract he signed, combined with his sharply-dropping production, didn't help matters, and by the end he was seen as a liability, far short of the $10m he was being paid for 2003.

A graceful departure goes a long way, but in the end Williams had to be pushed: he was designated for assignment in June, after we acquired Shea Hillenbrand, and announced his retirement. Williams was, however, the last of the "original" D'backs to stay with the club, and his contribution during the building of the team, culminating in the World Series, is monumental.

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