Mike Piazza deserves a spot in Cooperstown’s Baseball Hall of Fame. The fact that this is his fourth year on the ballot is disrespectful to the greatest hitting catcher of all-time.
The 1993 Rookie of the Year played with the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Florida Marlins, and the Oakland Athletics. But the 16-year backstop was most famous for his eight-year tenure with the New York Mets.
Drafted in the 62nd round of the 1988 amateur draft, Piazza had very little, to no expectations heading into his professional career. He was drafted as a favor to relative Tommy Lasorda. However that never stopped Piazza from becoming one of the greatest catchers to ever play the game of baseball. He accumulated 427 home runs and 12 All-Star selections. He never won an MVP, but he was in the top-four of voting four times in his career, and came in second twice. With a .308 batting average and 1335 RBIs, you’d think he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer right? Well there’s more that meets the eye with Piazza.
Going from a 62nd round draft pick to the greatest hitting catcher of all-time can lead to some suspicions. So it wasn’t a surprise when PEDs were linked to the 10-time Silver Slugger winner. However, to deny Piazza is preposterous when, in fact, these are only allegations. There is no documented proof that the now 47-year-old catcher took steroids. For some voters, the fact that there have been rumors swirling regarding Piazza, keeps him off their ballots. My view is that unless there is concrete evidence that the player used PEDs, they should be on voters’ ballots if their careers are Hall of Fame worthy. With Piazza, there has not even been a schlocky Miami con man running his name through the mud. Someone thought they saw acne on Piazza’s back at one point during his career. That is all.
The only other argument is his defense. Piazza was not a good defensive catcher. No one would argue that. He only threw out 23 percent of basestealers in his career. That is well below the league average of 31 percent.
The Hall of Fame class will be revealed on Wednesday January 6. For a player to be inducted, they need to be on 75% of the writers’ ballots. In the previous three years, Piazza accumulated 57.8, 62.2 and 69.9 percentages respectively. So obviously his chances have increased every year he’s been eligible. He is surely on the cusp of gaining entry. Especially given the fact that this years ballot is not as a star-studded as in previous years. The only first ballot entrant that appears to be a lock for the Hall is The Kid, Ken Griffey Jr.
Piazza ranks first all-time among catchers in home runs (427), slugging percentage (.545), and OPS (.922). Need a defining moment for Piazza? Look no further than September 21, 2001. Following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, the Mets played their division rival Atlanta Braves in the first professional sports game in New York. Losing 2-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Mike Piazza came up with a runner on and delivered a two-run go-ahead home run to a city that desperately needed something to cheer for.
For a resume that is as filled as Piazza’s, you’d think he’d be in already. For all of the ballots that have been made public this year, it seems as though Piazza is on track for the Hall of Fame. And whenever Piazza does get in, just like a lost library book, it will be long overdue.