As the calendar flips to 2017, it’s a time for a bit of reflection on the past.
We can help you with a little looking back … at the most impactful Arizona sports pros to wear the No. 17 on their jerseys.
The number 17 is not such a popular one in the world of uniforms.
In the locale of Arizona, professional sports teams have only run out 26 combined No. 17s throughout their histories. Seven Coyotes, seven Cardinals, six Suns and six Diamondbacks have worn the No. 17 on the back of their jerseys. Who were the best to wear 17?
It’s a little subjective, but these five pros all had at least one year of significant impacts on their teams — be it a starring or secondary role — and stuck around in the Valley long enough for people to remember their names.
Brandon Webb, D-backs
Making his debut in the majors as a 24-year-old in 2003, the starting pitcher put up a 2.84 ERA and 10-9 record in his rookie year. After going 7-16 his second major league season, the right-hander changed his number from 55 to 17 and would never fail to record a winning season for the next four years. Webb proved durable until he hit the age of 30, and three All-Star campaigns from 2006-2008 were capped by a Cy Young Award in 2006 for a 16-8 season. He led MLB in ERA+ in 2006 and 2007 before putting together a 22-win season in 34 starts in 2008. Shoulder injuries in his first game of 2009 would spell the end of what was a most impressive, albeit relatively brief, MLB career.
Mark Grace, D-backs
The long-time Chicago Cubs first baseman rode off into the sunset in style with the D-backs. His first year in the desert saw Arizona win the 2001 World Series before Grace’s production tailed off in 2002 and 2003.
But in 2001 at the age of 37, his production held up through 145 regular season games. Grace was second behind Luis Gonzalez in hits (142), on-base percentage (.386) and doubles (31). He was behind Gonzo and Reggie Sanders in RBI with 78. He slashed .298/.386/.466 that year before his production fell off over the next few seasons.
Radim Vrbata, Coyotes
Between three stints with the Coyotes in his career, Vrbata no doubt can call his second the most successful. It was Vrbata’s 2011-12 season that stands as arguably the best of his career (2014-15 with Vancouver is there as well). In that season, he led the NHL with 12 game-winning goals and scored 62 points, one of his career mark in 2014-15. He also had a plus-minus of 24 that season.
P.J. Tucker, Suns
If there’s one decision former general manager Lance Blanks succeeded, it was knowing the value of P.J. Tucker. An overseas career followed a failed rookie season in Toronto, but Tucker reemerged five years later in 2012 by signing with the Suns focused on accepting a role built around hustle. The four-time Dan Majerle Hustle Award winner is in his fifth season with Phoenix, and his best came in 2013-14, when a surprising team won 48 games. Tucker averaged 11 points and 7.6 rebounds per game that year.
Ladislav Nagy, Coyotes
Nagy joined the Coyotes in a trade during the 2000-01 season and lasted in the Valley for another four-plus years. He consistently put up points with the franchise with 52 or more from 2002-03 to 2005-06 despite playing 55 or fewer games in the last two full seasons with Phoenix.
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