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The literal highs and low of the Arizona Diamondbacks

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No, Randy Johnson is NOT the tallest Diamondback of all-time.

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This was initially inspired by a piece over at True Blue LA, where they mentioned Corey Seager being the tallest shortstop, at 6'4", ever to play for the Dodgers. I was going to follow slavishly and do an "all-time giants" for the Diamondbacks (as if that title isn't confusing), but when I started looking into it, I noticed how pitchers seem a great deal taller than other players. In franchise history, we have had 35 players who measure 6'5" or taller, and 31 of those are pitchers. So, I though it might be interesting to look at all the positions, and see how height varied.

So, below, you'll find a list for each position, with the high, low and median height. The information is taken from Baseball-Reference.com, and with all such information, should be taken with a pinch of salt. Though probably not as much as weight, which is a) probably a great deal more liable to see vanity adjustments, and b) more subject to significant variations over the course of time. [Or so we certainly hope was the case this winter, mentioning no names...] For positions where there are multiple players of the same height, the number is listed in brackets, along with the name of the most recent Diamondback. Qualification - 50% of games played at the position.

Position High Median Low
Starting pitcher Randy Johnson - 6'10" 6'2" Enrique Gonzalez - 5'10"
Relief pitcher Jon Rauch - 6'11" 6'2" Shane Nance - 5'8"
Catcher (3) Jarrod Saltalamacchia - 6'4" 6'1" (3) Welington Castillo - 5'10"
First base Tony Clark - 6'8" 6'2" (2) Juan Miranda - 6'0"
Second base (4) Phil Gosselin - 6'1" 6'0" David Eckstein - 5'6"
Shortstop (2) Jason Smith - 6'3" 6'0" (3) John McDonald - 5'9"
Third base Troy Glaus - 6'5" 6'2" (2) Ryan Roberts - 5'11"
Left field Nolan Reimold - 6'4" 6'2" Collin Cowgill - 5'9"
Center field Luis Terrero - 6'3" 6'1" Adam Eaton - 5'8"
Right field Adam Dunn - 6'6" 6'1" (4) Danny Bautista - 5'11"

Random notes.

  • Among our rotations, the Big Unit lives up to his name, with a full three-inch edge over the next tallest starting pitchers, Brandon McCarthy.
  • However, Johnson is just edged out by Rauch for the title of tallest overall player. Indeed, Rauch is the tallest man ever to have played baseball, though Eric Hillman, who appeared for the Mets in the nineties, was variously listed as 6'10" or 6'11", depending on the source. The Angels did have a 7'1 Dutch reliever, Loek Van Mil, in spring camp four years ago, but he has yet to make the majors.
  • A little surprised by how tall our average catcher was. I'd have thought being closer to the ground would be an advantage at that position, more than anywhere else!
  • Clark's 6'8" makes him the tallest Diamondback position player of all-time, and he's tied with another first-baseman, Nate Freeman of Oakland, for the tallest in major-league history. In case you're interested, Clark faced Rauch three times when the former was a D-back and the latter played for the Nationals - at a combined height of 13'7", the tallest batter-pitcher match-up ever possible. Clark went 0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts.
  • At 5'6", Eckstein is tied for the shortest position player in the majors for more than 30 years, standing alongside (literally) Jose Altuve and Alexi Amarista.
  • For some reason, I originally thought Troy Glaus played first for us, not third.
  • I think it's safe to say that, in the outfield, size does not confer defensive prowess. The three outfielders with significant playing time there in the last decade who are taller than 6'3 were Dunn, Mark Trumbo and Shawn Green, none of whom will be remembered fondly for their gloves.
  • All told, given the dominance of pitchers at the upper end of the spectrum, there was surprisingly little difference in the median heights, with hurlers only an inch taller at 6'2".
  • Relief pitchers have the biggest range, at 15 inches. Catchers, shortstops and third basemen all share the smallest range, of only six inches
  • For last season, the tallest player was Matt Reynolds at 6'5", with three position players tied for first there, at 6'4" (Saltalamacchia, Trumbo and Peter O'Brien). Silvino Bracho was the shortest pitcher at 5'10", with four position players (Castillo, Ender Inciarte, Chris Owings and Cliff Pennington) joining him at eye-level.
  • For 2015, on the 40-man roster O'Brien now stands alone among position players at 6'4", while Jean Segura joins Castillo and Owings at 5'10". Reynolds and Bracho would retain their crowns from last year.