Through his age-32 season, "Gonzo" had hit a modest 164 homers, with a high of 31 in 2000, a year in which teams set a record with 1.17 homers per game. The Diamondbacks’ rightfielder quickly opened some eyes by homering five times in the 2001 season's first five games, finished April with an MLB-high 13 and still led with 20 in the team's first 40 games. But when he endured a 13-game drought in May, Barry Bonds—who homered 11 times in a 10-game span that month—passed Gonzalez like he was standing still. By the time he reached number 50, on Aug. 29 against the Giants, both Bonds and Sammy Sosa had beaten him to the milepost. Gonzalez finished the month with 51, and homered six times in the season's final 17 games.
His total of 57 was good for third in the league behind Bonds (73) and Sosa (64), but he got the real reward, driving in the World Series-winning run with a bases-loaded, ninth-inning single in Game 7 off the Yankees' Mariano Rivera.