While Matt Williams is most remembered for the decade that he spent in San Francisco, he was quite productive during his tenure with the Arizona Diamondbacks, which accounted for the final six seasons of a 17-year career.
In between his stints in San Francisco and Arizona, Williams landed in Cleveland for the 1997 season, with the Giants acquiring future National League MVP Jeff Kent in what turned out to be a pretty lopsided trade. Williams did win a Gold Glove Award, Silver Slugger Award and reach the World Series in Cleveland in 1997, but it turned out to be the only season that he spent with the franchise.
As Ken Berger of The Associated Press wrote at the time, Williams had his wish to be traded to the expansion Diamondbacks granted before 1998, their first season of play. The reason that Williams was so intrigued about the idea of going from the defending World Series Champions to a team that had never played a game was because his children lived in the Phoenix area, and after his marriage fell apart, continuing his career with the Diamondbacks was "the only situation that would accommodate my professional aspirations and personal things I need to do for my kids."
A trade to the Diamondbacks did prove to be the best of both worlds for Williams, perhaps even more than he realized at the time of his trade.
In 1999, Williams slashed .303/.344/.536 with 35 home runs, 142 RBIs and an .880 OPS. Williams finished third in National League MVP voting in 1999, trailing only Chipper Jones and Jeff Bagwell.
Two years later, Williams drove in nine runs during the 2001 playoffs, which culminated in the Diamondbacks defeating the New York Yankees to win their first World Series title. In his 15th major league season, Williams won his first championship.
Williams' six years in Arizona were far from perfect. He only played in 100 or more games three different times. He was later accused of purchasing "$11,600 worth of HGH, steroids and other drugs" in 2002, his second last season with the Diamondbacks. Williams admitted that he did purchase and briefly use the substances after a doctor recommended that he so to deal with an ankle injury, but stopped because "he did not like its effects after sampling."
Despite any shortcomings during his time with the Diamondbacks, Williams is unquestionably one of the more productive players in the brief history of the franchise. But he falls just short of cracking our countdown of the nine greatest players in Diamondbacks history:
9. AJ Pollock (2012-2018)
Best Season as a Diamondback: 2015 - .315/.367/.498 with 20 home runs, 76 RBIs, 53 walks, .865 OPS, 130 OPS+ and 6.8 fWAR
Career Stats as a Diamondback: .281/.338/.467 with 74 home runs, 264 RBIs, 185 walks, 640 hits, .805 OPS, 113 OPS+ and 17.1 fWAR
Pollock played more than 130 games just twice as a Diamondback, but was an All-Star-caliber player when healthy. Pollock's best season came in 2015, when he was an All-Star and won a Gold Glove Award. His 17.1 fWAR is third among all position players in franchise history.
8. Ketel Marte (2017-Present)
Best Season as a Diamondback: 2019 - .329/.389/.592 with 32 home runs, 92 RBIs, 53 walks, .981 OPS, 149 OPS+ and a 7.0 fWAR
Career Stats as a Diamondback: .295/.358/.495 with 67 home runs, 236 RBIs, 174 walks, 540 hits, .853 OPS, 122 OPS+ and 13.5 fWAR (Stats current as of January 2022)
Marte has struggled to stay on the field at times during the half decade that he's spent with the Diamondbacks, but he's been extremely productive in Arizona when he's played. In 2019, Marte had one of the finest seasons in franchise history, which led to him finishing fourth in National League MVP voting, behind Cody Bellinger, Christian Yelich and Anthony Rendon. Though he's often been the subject of trade speculation, the Diamondbacks have Marte under control through the 2024 season, so he has a chance to continue climbing up this list.
7. Zack Greinke (2016-2019)
Best Season as a Diamondback: 2017 - 17-7 with 3.20 ERA, 147 ERA+, 3.31 FIP, 1.072 WHIP, 215 strikeouts, one complete game and 4.9 fWAR
Career Stats as a Diamondback: 55-29 with 3.40 ERA, 131 ERA+, 3.58 FIP, 1.093 WHIP, 683 strikeouts, two complete games and 14.0 fWAR
In a rather shocking move, the Diamondbacks lured Greinke away from the division-rival Los Angeles Dodgers by signing him to a six-year/$206.5 million deal in advance of the 2016 season. Greinke only spent three-and-a-half seasons with the Diamondbacks, but continued to add to a Hall of Fame-worthy resume. Greinke finished fourth in National League Cy Young Award voting in 2017, while making three All-Star teams and winning four Gold Glove Awards as a Diamondback.
6. Steve Finley (1999-2004)
Best Season as a Diamondback: 1999 - .264/.336/.525 with 34 home runs, 103 RBIs, 63 walks, .861 OPS, 113 OPS+ and a 4.6 fWAR
Career Stats as a Diamondback: .278/.351/.500 with 153 home runs, 479 RBIs, 337 walks, 847 hits, .851 OPS, 111 OPS+ and 18.6 fWAR
Finley had some excellent seasons in Houston and San Diego, but despite not coming to Arizona until his age-34 season, he's perhaps most remembered as a Diamondback. Finley won back-to-back Gold Glove Awards in 1999 and 2000, a period in which he also homered 69 times and posted an .882 OPS. Finley wasn't as productive in the 2001 regular season, but got scorching hot during the Diamondbacks World Series run, hitting .365 in 17 games.
5. Brandon Webb (2003-2009)
Best Season as a Diamondback: 2006 - 16-8 with a 3.10 ERA, 152 ERA+, 3.18 FIP, 1.132 WHIP, 178 strikeouts, five complete games and 6.5 fWAR
Career Stats as a Diamondback: 87-62 with a 3.27 ERA, 142 ERA+, 3.50 FIP, 1.239 WHIP, 1,065 strikeouts, 15 complete games and a 29.6 fWAR
Injuries limited Webb's career to just seven years, perhaps preventing him from putting together a resume worthy of Cooperstown. Still, he's one of the greatest Diamondbacks ever. Webb led baseball in wins, complete-game shutouts and ERA+ each on multiple occasions. Webb won the National League Cy Young Award in 2006, before finishing runner-up for the award in both 2007 and 2008. Between 2006 and 2008, Webb posted an 18.2 fWAR, which was second among all pitchers in baseball, trailing only CC Sabathia.
4. Luis Gonzalez (1999-2006)
Best Season as a Diamondback: 2001 - .325/.429/.688 with 57 home runs, 142 RBIs, 100 walks, 1.117 OPS, 174 OPS+ and an 8.9 fWAR
Career Stats as a Diamondback: .298/.391/.529 with 224 home runs, 774 RBIs, 650 walks, 1,337 hits, .919 OPS, 130 OPS+ and 33.7 fWAR
"Gonzo" didn't become a star until his early-30s, but did so just in time to be part of the best era in Diamondbacks history. Between 1999 and 2003, Gonzalez finished seventh among all position players with a 29.3 fWAR. He exploded for a staggering 57 home runs in the 2001 season, by far the most in a single season in franchise history. That same year, Gonzalez hit a walk-off single in Game 7 of the World Series off of future Hall of Famer Mariano Rivera, helping the Diamondbacks to win their first championship. The Diamondbacks retired Gonzalez's No. 20 in August of 2010, the first number that the franchise ever retired.
3. Paul Goldschmidt (2011-2018)
Best Season as a Diamondback: 2015 - .321/.435/.570 with 33 home runs, 110 RBIs, 118 walks, 1.005 OPS, 168 OPS+ and a 7.2 fWAR
Career Stats as a Diamondback: .297/.398/.532 with 209 home runs, 710 RBIs, 655 walks, 1,182 hits, .930 OPS, 145 OPS+ and 36.2 fWAR
An eighth-round pick in the 2009 MLB Draft, Goldschmidt developed into arguably the greatest position player in Diamondbacks history. Across eight seasons with the Snakes, "Goldy" homered 209 times and became the franchise's all-time leader in career fWAR among position players, offensive WAR, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, OPS and walks. Goldschmidt was voted in the top six in National League MVP voting on four occasions as a Diamonback, finishing runner-up in both 2013 and 2015.
2. Curt Schilling (2000-2003)
Best Season as a Diamondback: 2002 - 23-7 with a 3.23 ERA, 140 ERA+, 2.40 FIP, 0.968 WHIP, 316 strikeouts, five complete games and a 9.3 fWAR
Career Stats as a Diamondback: 58-28 with a 3.14 ERA, 126 ERA+, 3.27 FIP, 1.120 WHIP, 875 strikeouts, 18 complete games and 23.6 fWAR
Schilling spent the largest chunk of his career with the Philadelphia Phillies and won two World Series titles as a member of the Boston Red Sox, but he recently said that if he's ever inducted into the Hall of Fame, he'd like to go in as a Diamondback. And Schilling is right, the absolute peak of his career came in Arizona. Between 2001 and 2002, he went 45-13 with a 3.10 ERA, 2.75 FIP and 16.5 fWAR. In both seasons, he finished runner-up to one of his teammates (more on that in a minute) in National League Cy Young Award voting. One of the greatest playoff pitchers of all time, Schilling posted a 1.12 ERA across 48 1/3 postseason in 2001, helping the Diamondbacks to win the World Series. Schilling was a co-MVP of the 2001 World Series.
1. Randy Johnson (1999-2004; 2007-2008)
Best Season as a Diamondback: 2001 - 21-6 with a 2.49 ERA, 188 ERA+, 2.13 FIP, 1.009 WHIP, 372 strikeouts, three complete games and a 10.4 fWAR
Career Stats as a Diamondback: 118-62 with a 2.83 ERA, 164 ERA+, 2.73 FIP, 1.068 WHIP, 2,077 strikeouts, 38 complete games and 54.8 fWAR
After an unreal second half with the Houston Astros in 1998, the Diamondbacks -- entering their second season of existence -- signed Johnson to a four-year/$52.4 million deal. It turned out to be one of the greatest signings in free agent history. Between 1999 and 2002, Johnson won four straight National League Cy Young Awards. He split the 2001 World Series MVP with Curt Schilling, after posting a 1.04 ERA across 17 1/3 innings in the Fall Classic. In total, "The Big Unit" spent eight seasons with the Diamondbacks across two different stints. Despite playing in Seattle for a decade, Johnson's Hall of Fame plaque features him wearing a Diamondbacks cap, making him the first (and to this point, only) player to wear a Snake cap in Cooperstown.