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Diamondbacks All-Time Top 10. #8. Craig Counsell

Craig Counsell

Acquired: 3/23/00 and 12/21/04. Signed as a Free Agent with the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Career with AZ: .268/.352/.359 - 20 HR, 163 RBI
Best year 2001: .275/.359/.362 - 4 HR, 38 RBI
Records: None
Other facts: 3rd in OBP (.352) and SB (53), 4th in walks (245), 6th in hits (516) and games played (559). Has never lost a post-season series (6-0), and is 14-for-35 in NLCS action.
Biggest moment: MVP of 2001 NLCS vs. Atlanta, going 8-for-21.
Departed: 8/18/2003. Traded by the Arizona Diamondbacks to the Milwaukee Brewers, in the Sexson deal. But returned, hooray! :-)

Even if his numbers with the bat have never been stellar, Counsell is one of those players it's almost impossible to dislike. He makes this list on a combination of defensive excellence, hustle and fan support - he's likely second only to Gonzo in terms of popular appeal. He's a rare "two time" Diamondback, having signed twice as a free-agent, returning after being sent to Milwaukee in the Sexson trade, thereby neatly avoiding the 111-loss season suffered here!

One of Counsell's strengths is his flexibility: in five seasons here, he played most games at third in two years, most at second twice, and in 2001 was most often seen at shortstop. But he also plays these positions well, and is a safe and reliable pair of hands at any of them - he may be the best defensive infielder in franchise history. Take 2001 for instance:
SS: Counsell Fielding percentage .975 in 58 games; league avg .968
2B: Counsell .996 in 55 games; league avg .983
3B: Counsell .977 in 38 games; league avg .950

At the plate, he's never going to destroy the opposition (his batting average high is .282 for a full season), but is patient at the plate, and this is reflected in a career OBP 85 points better than his BA. 2005 saw him back with Arizona, leading off, and he discovered both a running game (cracking the top 10 in the NL for SB) and his "power", setting a career high with 9 homers. His output did decline towards the end of the year, but he'll be a regular again this season, and Counsell will likely enter the top 3 in games played for the franchise by the end of 2006.