The parallels between the 2001 and 2023 Arizona Diamondbacks

Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Randy Johnso
Arizona Diamondbacks starting pitcher Randy Johnso / JEFF HAYNES/GettyImages

The 2001 Arizona Diamondbacks ended their season with one of the most iconic scenes in MLB history. Luis Gonzalez punched the ball into centerfield off of Hall of Fame closer Mariano Rivera to walk off the dynasty New York Yankees in Game 7 of the World Series. 

On June 7, 2001, that team beat the Los Angeles Dodgers in a great offensive showing and a 13-9 final score to improve to 36-24 on the year. On June 6, 2023, this year’s team beat the Washington Nationals in a great offensive showing and a 10-5 final score to improve to 36-25 on the year. 

However, the parallels do not completely end there. The 2001 team was led by the top two vote-getters in the NL Cy Young Award race, as well as having a third-place NL MVP finisher that played in the outfield. 

While the 2023 version has some twists, it looks similar. This year’s team is led in pitching by two players en route to the All-Star game in Merrill Kelly and Zac Gallen, with Gallen being the current front-runner to win the Cy Young Award, and a young outfielder (Corbin Carroll) who looks like he may very well finish in third in MVP voting. 

Randy Johnson, who won the 2001 Cy Young Award, finished the year with a 2.49 ERA and 13.4 strikeouts per nine. Gallen, through this point in the year, has a 2.75 ERA and is striking out 10.1 batters per nine. 

Curt Schilling, who finished second in the Cy Young Award, finished the year with a 2.98 ERA and 10.3 strikeouts per nine. Kelly is very comparable in those two stats, sporting a 2.80 ERA and 9.8 strikeouts per nine. Their ERA+ are also very similar, as Schilling had a 157 ERA+ and Kelly had a 153 ERA+. 

As for the MVP-candidate outfielders, the walk-off man himself, Gonzalez led that year’s lineup with a 1.117 OPS and hitting 57 HR. While 2023’s equivalent plays the game differently, he puts up similar production in terms of value, as Corbin Carroll has a .895 OPS but adds significant value defensively and on the base paths. 

While two aces and an MVP-level outfielder are similarities the two seasons have, as a whole, they are constructed quite differently. The 2001 World Series winners were built on the back of elite pitching and slightly-below average hitting. 

Contrasting that is the 2023 team, who boast an elite lineup and slightly below-average pitching staff. The 2001 team had a teamwide 94 OPS+ and 121 ERA+, while the 2023 team boasts a 107 OPS+ and 100 ERA+. 

However, another similarity the teams share is their affinity for power-hitting. The 2001 team finished seventh in HR with 208 for a rate of 1.28 per game, while the 2023 team has 68 so far this season for a rate of 1.15 a game. 

Despite some differences, the Diamondbacks are looking to replicate their magic from 2001 to win another World Series title.