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Arizona Diamondbacks All-Time Top 50: #3, Luis Gonzalez

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Luis Gonzalez is Hall-of-Fame worthy.

Luis Gonzalez
Luis Gonzalez
Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images

  • Avg ranking (high/low/most common): 3.44 (1/12/2)
  • Seasons: 1990-2008
  • Stats: 2591 games, .283/.367/.479 = .845 OPS, 119 OPS+, 51.5 bWAR
  • Best season: 2001 – 162 Games, .325/.429/.688 = 1.117 OPS, 174 OPS+, 7.9 WAR

Luis Gonzalez is awesome. His feats of prowess are many. Gonzo has displayed his awesomeness in opportunities that rarely occur in most lifetimes. I will talk about those later. First, let’s talk about a rare opportunity that has eluded him -- the Hall of Fame.

Hall of Fame. In 2014, Gonzalez received 0.9% of the HOF vote. That fell short of the 5% needed to stay on the ballot the following year. Luis Gonzalez should be seriously considered by the veterans committee. Let’s look at why.

If Luis Gonzalez was inducted into the Major League Hall of Fame, it would increase the alignment with other Halls of Fame which include him. He is a member of the following:

  • Latin American Sports HOF
  • Latino Baseball HOF
  • Arizona Sports HOF
  • Tampa Sports HOF (his hometown)

His Bill James Scores show he would be an average HOF player. His Bill James HOF Monitor score was 103, where greater than 100 means likely to be voted in. His Bill James HOF Standard score was 48, where 50 is the stats of an average HOF player.

His stats are HOF level.

1. Doubles exemplify his HOF qualifications. Gonzalez had 596 doubles – ranking 18th all-time for most career doubles.

Of the 17 players who ranked higher, 2 are still active players (Pujols and Beltre). Of the 15 others, 12 are in the Hall of fame, and three are not – but the reasons have little to do with their performance on the field. The other three are Pete Rose, David Ortiz, and Barry Bonds. I am certain that there is no credible reason to think that Gonzalez belongs with those three players.

His doubles could have been higher if he had played more at in Chase Field and less in the Houston Astrodome. Chase Field was hitter friendly compared In the Astrodome; Gonzo hit doubles in 6% of PAs at Chase compared to 5.5% at the Astrodome.

2. Defense was extraordinary in his first 10 seasons. Gonzalez made 6973 outs – ranking 57th all-time. Gonzalez had 95.7 fielding runs above average. Gonzalez played four seasons at the gold glove level of 15 fielding runs or above.

3. RBIs were excellent. Gonzalez had 1439 RBIs – ranking 67th all-time. More than half (774) of his RBIs were for the D-backs. Of the 66 players who ranked higher, 3 are active players. Of the 63 remaining, 44 are in the Hall of Fame, which means 70% are in the HOF.

4. Homeruns were excellent. Gonzalez had 354 homeruns – ranking 88th all-time. More than half (224) of his homeruns were for the D-backs.

If Gonzalez is discounted by the voters and ascribed as a “one year wonder” they are ignoring the 8 seasons when Gonzalez had an OPS over 100, three 20+ HR seasons and six 40+ 2B seasons before 2001.” Quote from cansofcool.blogspot.com

He made impacts in reaching the postseason and in winning the World Series.

His clutch hit will long be remembered in baseball history. The Diamondbacks played the Yankees in the World Series. If the Yankees won, it would be their fourth consecutive win. If the Diamondbacks won, it would be the quickest World Series win by any new franchise. It was game 7. The ninth inning started with the Yankees up by one run. For the Yankees, the pitcher was Mariano Rivera, who has been called the “most dominating post-season reliever of all-time.” With one out, Tony Womack doubled to tie the score. Craig Counsell got hit by a pitch to load the bases, sending Luis Gonzalez to the plate. The infield played in, intending to throw out Jay Bell at the plate. Then amazing happened! Luis Gonzalez’s hit a bloop fly over the infield for the winning run!

It was obviously a childhood dream come true and to be in that spot was unbelievable.” –Luis Gonzalez.

In 2001, his hitting greatly impacted the Diamondbacks reaching the playoffs. He had a career high in RBIs (142), OPS+(174), and walks (100). He was awarded a silver slugger that season. His bWAR was a career high (7.9).

  • He hit 57 home runs, a figure beaten only by seven men in baseball history - Bonds, McGwire, Sosa, Maris, Ruth, Foxx and Greenberg.” –Jim McLennan.
  • And he didn’t make a single error during 1416.2 innings in left field.” –Jim McLennan

In 1999, his hitting against Division foes was key in the Diamondbacks reaching the playoffs. He hit 26 homeruns and 111 RBIs. His OPS+ was 137.

  • In 1999, Gonzalez was a one man wrecking crew against the NL West, hitting .370 with 8 HR and 35 RBI against divisional foes.” Quote from cansofcool.blogspot.com
  • The ‘99 DBacks won 51 of their last 68 games; in that period Gonzalez hit 11 of his HR and put together hit streaks of 9, 16 and 12 games.“ Quote from cansofcool.blogspot.com

He made impacts off the field.

In 2005, he won the Branch Rickey Award in recognition of his exceptional community service. It is given to players who contribute unselfishly to their community and who are strong role models. He is senior advisor to the president and CEO of the Diamondbacks. He is active in the Arizona Diamondbacks foundation, D-backs Baseball Academy Camps for children, and Fantasy Camps for adults.

Gonzalez has been active in the work of the Baseball Assistance Team, a charitable organization that provides financial assistance for former major and minor league players and umpires

In 2011, he was interviewed by the AZ Snake Pit.

“I’ve always been a people person. When you have kids and you’re out in the community: this is where home is for me now. I don’t hide: I’m out there, my kids are out there. I try to get involved in the community and make a difference, help out as much as you can. I just enjoy that. I enjoy being around people, meeting people. To me, that’s a lot of fun.”—Luis Gonzalez

In 2010, his number (20) was retired by the D-backs. In 2015, D-back fans voted him as their favorite player of all-time (with 40% of the vote).

In 2017, he courageously saved a woman’s life by pulling her out of a burning car accident.

”I just reacted. I didn’t think about it, to be honest with you. ... I was just trying to get the lady out of the car. She was a little dazed and groggy. I was like, ‘Open the door, open the door, the other car is on fire.’ I didn’t know if the car was going to blow up or something because I was seeing flames coming out of it.” – Luis Gonzalez

How does he want to be remembered?

I think I’d want to be remembered more as a guy who played the game the right way - played hard, and cared about people. That’s basically it. I respected my team-mates, respected the fans, and just cared about the people that surrounded the game.” –Luis Gonzalez