D-backs' Top 5 left fielders: Gilbert's take

April 28th, 2020

No one loves a good debate quite like baseball fans, and with that in mind, we asked each of our beat reporters to rank the top five players by position in the history of their franchise, based on their career while playing for that club. These rankings are for fun and debate purposes only. If you don’t agree with the order, participate in the Twitter poll to vote for your favorite at this position.

Here is Steve Gilbert’s ranking of the top five left fielders in D-backs history. Next week: center fielders.

1. Luis Gonzalez, 1999-2006
Key fact: His bWAR of 30 is second in franchise history among position players, behind only Paul Goldschmidt.

will forever be remembered for his base hit off Mariano Rivera that won the 2001 World Series for the D-backs. That he made his home in Arizona even after he retired and he and his wife became known for their work in the community only solidifies him being “Mr. Diamondback” in the eyes of fans.

The acquisition of Gonzalez from the Tigers in exchange for outfielder Karim Garcia by then-general manager Joe Garagiola Jr. on Dec. 28, 1998 received little attention, but it has gone down as one of the best trades in franchise history.

D-backs All-Time Team: SS | 3B | 2B | 1B | C

In his first three years with the D-backs, Gonzalez posted OPS+ marks of 137, 130 and 174. His 2001 season was one for the ages as he hit 57 homers while slashing .325/.429/.688.

Gonzalez’s No. 20 was the first number retired by the D-backs (aside from Jackie Robinson’s 42), and he works for the team as special adviser to team president/CEO Derrick Hall. Gonzalez has an office in Chase Field and keeps a busy schedule with team events.

2. David Peralta, 2014-present
Key fact: He is the longest-tenured D-backs player on the current roster.

’s career is a study in persistence. Originally a pitching prospect in the Cardinals organization, he reinvented himself as an outfielder after briefly being out of the game. In making the climb to the big leagues, he worked at McDonald's to make ends meet while playing in independent ball.

“You could make a movie about what he’s gone through,” said D-backs shortstop Nick Ahmed.

Since making his Major League debut in 2014, Peralta has continued to improve in all facets of his game. He won his first National League Silver Slugger award in 2018 and then last season he captured his first Gold Glove.

Peralta was rewarded this winter with a contract extension through 2022.

3. Ender Inciarte, 2014-15
Key fact: He finished fifth in the NL Rookie of the Year voting in 2014.

When the D-backs made the ill-fated deal with the Braves to acquire right-hander Shelby Miller prior to 2016, much of the focus was on the fact they gave up No. 1 overall Draft pick Dansby Swanson. The loss of , who was included in the trade, cannot be overlooked. In fact, the D-backs almost lost Inciarte before that when the Phillies nabbed him in the Rule 5 Draft in 2012. He failed to make the team out of Spring Training and was returned to the D-backs.

4. Eric Byrnes, 2006-09
Key fact: Byrnes made the final out of the 2007 NL Championship Series.

was one of the more colorful characters in franchise history. Signed as a free agent in December 2005, Byrnes endeared himself to fans with his all-out style of play.

Byrnes was a key cog of the 2007 team, which made a surprise run to the NL West title and made it all the way to the NLCS before being swept by the Rockies. Byrnes hit .286/.353/.460 that year and midway through it, the club signed him to a three-year, $30 million contract. The investment did not pay off as injuries limited Byrnes to 52 games in ’08 and 84 games in ’09 and he was released before the 2010 season.

5. David Dellucci, 1998-2003
Key fact: Dellucci posted a 145 OPS+ in 1999.

was selected by the D-backs with the 45th pick in the Expansion Draft and went on to be a big contributor during his time in Arizona.

While not an everyday player most years, Dellucci’s impact off the bench and willingness to accept that he would not always start, was one of the reasons the D-backs were able to win three division titles from 1999-2002.

“He was a real weapon for us,” former D-backs manager Bob Brenly said. “And he embraced his role even if he didn’t always like it. His ability to come through, not just off the bench but on the days he started, was a big factor for us.”