Former Arizona Diamondbacks outfielder Luis Gonzalez was once one of the game’s most dominant hitters.
He was a blend of contact hitting with a solid amount of power, putting up several seasons with above-average home run numbers.
His longevity was also impressive, missing minimal time due to injury in his 19 years.
Even though he only made it to four All-Star games, his career numbers were strong, even approaching potential Hall of Fame levels.
Luis Gonzalez enjoyed this three-homer game on 6/8/2001. He'd go on to slug 57 dingers, which is the most for a single season in #Dbacks history. (vid via MLB)
— Matt Musico (@mmusico8) March 7, 2022
However, all of the numbers don’t matter to Diamondbacks fans as much as one at-bat: Game 7 of the 2001 World Series.
This alone solidified his legacy for both the franchise and in MLB history.
Here is a complete look at Gonzalez’s career story, and where he is today.
A Slow Minor League Start
Gonzalez was drafted by the Houston Astros in the fourth round of the 1988 MLB Draft.
A #HappyBirthday to 2001 World Series champion/Silver Slugger Award winner and five-time All-Star (1999, 2001-2003 & 2005) Luis Gonzalez (52). #Astros #Cubs #Tigers #Diamondbacks #Dodgers #Marlins pic.twitter.com/KgMXwKKhom
— Carolyn Muse (@NLCarolynMuse) September 3, 2019
He entered the Minors and didn’t quite tear it up, posting numbers that were solid but did not stand out.
His third season in professional baseball was his best though, as he hit .265 with 24 home runs and 27 stolen bases.
This would end up being all the preparation he would need before getting called up to the Astros.
Gonzalez was officially called up to the Major League club in September of 1990, where he hit .190 in just 12 games to end the season.
While this wasn’t a perfect debut, it set him up to be a contributing member of the team moving forward.
Gonzalez Becomes Major League Starter
Gonzalez played in 137 games during his first full season with the Astros, posting a .254 average with 13 home runs.
After a mediocre sophomore campaign, Gonzalez’s third season would be hit best while in Houston.
In that season, he posted a .300 average with a career-high at the time of 15 home runs and 20 stolen bases.
Gonzalez’s career with the Astros lasted just two more seasons, as he was traded to the Chicago Cubs in 1995.
Here he spent just one more season, hitting .271 with 15 home runs before hitting free agency.
In the offseason, he inked a one-year deal to return to Houston for the 1997 season.
This was yet again another disappointing season, as he fell short of posting any dominant numbers.
Looking for a jump start to his career, Gonzalez signed another one-year deal, this time with the Detroit Tigers.
With the Tigers, Gonzalez began to turn his numbers around, as he tallied 23 home runs and sparked some life into a career that seemed to be fading.
12/28/98 – The #DBacks traded once-star prospect Karim Garcia (23) to the Houston Astros for 31-year-old Luis Gonzalez and cash. Garcia batted .222 with 9HRs and 43RBI while Gonzo set career-highs with 23HR and 71RBI, batting .267. AZ was also interested in Greg Vaughn. #RattleOn pic.twitter.com/fOKTNR83Zz
— Arizona Sports History (@AZSportsHistory) December 28, 2020
Gonzalez Reaches Stardom In Arizona
The moment he set foot in Arizona, Gonzalez’s career began to take off.
In his first season with the team, he hit .336 and led the league with 206 hits, adding 26 home runs and 111 RBI as well.
These numbers were enough to earn the lefty his first career All-Star appearance, serving as his first statement on the MLB stage.
He followed this up with 31 home runs and hitting .311 in the center of the Diamondbacks’ lineup.
However, 2001 would be on a different level.
Gonzalez played in all 162 games, slugging an eye-popping 57 home runs with a .325 average.
He was also integral in the Diamondbacks’ World Series run, delivering a game-winning bloop single against the New York Yankees in Game 7.
19 years ago today, Luis Gonzalez walks it off on Mariano Rivera in Game 7 as the Diamondbacks (+130) win their first World Series in franchise history.
They were (+1000) to win it all pre-season.#BarstoolSportsbook
— Bet The Bases (@betthebases) November 4, 2020
Gonzalez delivered the hit against Yankees closer Mariano Rivera, effectively ending the dynasty that won four championships in five seasons.
This alone cemented his legacy in Arizona, just three years into his time with the team.
Over the rest of his career, Gonzalez remained a solid producer but never reached the same level.
His age pushed him out of the game at 40-years-old, making him retire after a season with the Florida Marlins.
He finished his career with a .283 average, 2,591 hits, and 354 home runs, a strong set of numbers for the left fielder.
However, his name would become stained in the coming years as his links to performance-enhancing drugs became stronger.
PEDs Hurt Legacy
Gonzalez’s power surge in the early 2000s certainly raised questions among those around the game.
This was especially true when allegations and evidence of PED usage around the league began to ramp up.
His name was also included on a leaked list of players that supposedly tested positive for PEDs, hurting his legacy in the eyes of the fans.
Now, his name has become one of the biggest that are synonymous with the steroid era.
While he had a late peak, it certainly rivaled some of the players that have made it into Cooperstown.
Perhaps he deserved more consideration than he actually received, and it’d be hard to argue that PEDs didn’t play a role in that.
Since retiring from the sport, Gonzalez has remained around it.
He has served in special advising and coaching roles with the Diamondbacks over the years, while also serving as an analyst.
Today, he can be found as a senior advisor to the president and CEO of the Diamondbacks, a position that sees him assisting in both the baseball and business sides of the game.
“And here’s our food model Luis Gonzalez sporting the Arizona Diamondbacks Hot Dog…” pic.twitter.com/ZMhItpBpC9
— PHNX Diamondbacks (@PHNX_Dbacks) April 4, 2022
His number 20 was also retired by the Diamondbacks, highlighting his significance to the franchise.
It should be clear how important he is to the franchise.
Even though it took a while for his career to get going, Gonzalez etched a place for himself in baseball history.
While steroid allegations derailed some of that, he is still a beloved figure for Diamondbacks fans.
He will forever be one of the best players in their franchise’s history, which will be hard for any future players to surpass.