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

@SteveGilbertMLB
May 12, 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

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.

Here is Steve Gilbert’s ranking of the top five right fielders in D-backs history.

1. Justin Upton, 2007-12
Key fact: Upton finished fourth in the National League MVP voting in 2011.

Justin Upton was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2005 Draft out of high school, and therefore the expectations on him were immense from the start. A shortstop in high school, he transitioned to center field in the Minors in 2006. After spending that year in the Class A Midwest League, he started 2007 in the Class A Advanced Cal League, moved to Double-A and eventually to the big leagues, where he became the starting right fielder on a team that won the NL West and advanced to the NL Championship Series.

Over the next three years, Upton was bothered by nagging injuries, but when he played, he put up good numbers, slashing .277/.359/.482.

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

Upton’s big breakout came in 2011, when he played in 159 games and led the D-backs to another division title. Upton hit 31 homers that year and slashed .289/.369/.529 while compiling an OPS+ of 141.

Although Upton finished fourth in the MVP voting that year and had another outstanding season in 2012, D-backs general manager Kevin Towers made the controversial decision to trade Upton before the ’13 season to the Braves for a package that was highlighted by Martin Prado. Shortstop Nick Ahmed still remains from that trade, but it was a deal that was widely panned when it happened. That view hasn’t improved with time.

2. Gerardo Parra, 2009-14
Key fact: Parra won a pair of NL Gold Gloves in 2011 and ’13.

Known by his teammates as “G,” Gerardo Parra was signed by the D-backs out of Venezuela in 2004 at 17 and made his big league debut with them May 13, 2009. Parra had boundless energy and enthusiasm.

Parra was an outstanding defender for the D-backs. He possessed a cannon for an arm, almost daring runners to try to take an extra base on him. Manager Kirk Gibson gave Parra credit for improving the defense of his teammates, who began to emulate Parra’s use of a tiny glove for pregame defensive drills.

Heading into the 2011 season, the plan was for Parra to be the team’s fourth outfielder, but he quickly worked his way into the starting lineup and had an OPS+ of 113 for the NL West champs. In ’12, it was much the same as Towers signed free-agent outfielder Jason Kubel to take Parra’s starting spot. Parra, however, found a way back to the starting role.

3. Reggie Sanders, 2001
Key fact: Sanders was a significant contributor on the 2001 World Series champions.

Reggie Sanders’ stay in Arizona was not long, but he certainly made an impact. Signed to a one-year, $1.5 million contract, he left via free agency right after the D-backs won the World Series. With a rare combination of speed and power, Sanders hit a career-high 33 homers while stealing 14 bases and playing solid defense for the champs.

In the 2001 NL Division Series against the Cardinals, Sanders slashed .357/.471/.643 as the D-backs won in five games. Sanders also played well in the World Series, hitting .304.

4. J.D. Martinez, 2017
Key fact: His acquisition is regarded as GM Mike Hazen’s best move.

If Sanders’ time in Arizona was short, J.D. Martinez’s was downright brief, but oh so memorable. Acquired from the Tigers a week after the All-Star break in exchange for a trio of Minor Leaguers, only one of which (Dawel Lugo) has reached the Majors, Martinez made his presence felt by hitting 29 homers in just 257 plate appearances.

Martinez’s most memorable game with the D-backs came when he hit four homers against the Dodgers on Sept. 4 at Los Angeles.

Martinez became a free agent in the offseason, and the D-backs negotiated with him right up until he signed a deal with the Red Sox after Spring Training camps had opened.

5. Danny Bautista, 2000-04
Key fact: Bautista got the starting nod over Sanders in Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.

Danny Bautista was acquired from the Marlins on June 9, 2000, in exchange for Andy Fox, and Bautista slashed .317/.366/.511 the rest of that season for the D-backs, who came up short in their bid for a playoff spot.

The next season, with Sanders in the fold, Bautista was limited to 239 plate appearances, but he managed to hit .302. And he saved his biggest contribution for the postseason.

Bautista hit .583 (7-for-12) in the World Series and contributed an RBI double off Roger Clemens in Game 7, which the D-backs won 3-2 on a Luis Gonzalez walk-off single.

Steve Gilbert has covered the D-backs for MLB.com since 2001. Follow him on Twitter @SteveGilbertMLB.