Skip to content

HOF voters: choose Mike Piazza or accuse him of using steroids

Dec 1, 2012, 12:31 AM EDT

Mike Piazza AP

Jeff Bagwell gave the Hall of Fame voters an easy way out. Sure, his body of work leaves him qualified for Cooperstown based on the standards for first basemen, but he didn’t bat .300 for his career or hit 500 homers. His one MVP season came in strike-shortened 1994. That’s also the only year he led the league in a Triple Crown category.

Thus, a Hall of Fame voter can look at Bagwell’s record and say it’s not quite Hall of Fame worthy, all without getting into the messy steroid issue.

Will they be able to do the same for Mike Piazza? A career .308/.377/.545 hitter with 427 homers in 16 seasons, Piazza is pretty obviously the greatest offensive catcher the game has ever seen. His 143 OPS+ is well in front of any other player to catch at least 70 percent of his games. Joe Mauer is next at 135, and he’s yet to enter his decline phase. Mickey Cochrane is third at 129, followed by Bill Dickey and Johnny Bench.

Of course, Piazza’s defensive reputation was shaky at its best, dreadful at its worst. But that was mostly (almost entirely?) due to his arm. It doesn’t seem like he ever held back his his teams. Here are the NL ERA ranks from all of Piazza’s staffs in his years as a team’s primary catcher:

1993 Dodgers: 3rd
1994 Dodgers: 9th
1995 Dodgers: 2nd
1996 Dodgers: 1st
1997 Dodgers: 2nd
1998 Mets: 4th
1999 Mets: 5th
2000 Mets: 3rd
2001 Mets: 5th
2002 Mets: 5th
2005 Mets: 3rd
2006 Padres: 1st

So, how bad of a defensive catcher could he have been? In 12 years as a primary catcher, his pitchers finished in the top third of the league in ERA 11 times.

(And whether it’s worth pointing out or not, the 1994 Dodgers, the one odd ball on the list, had a 3.97 ERA with Piazza catching and a 5.28 ERA with Carlos Hernandez and Tom Prince behind the plate.)

All of this has been a long-winded way of saying there’s absolutely no way to justify leaving Piazza out of the Hall of Fame based on performance. We can argue whether Piazza is inner-circle or not, but he’s certainly a Hall of Famer according the numbers. Still, I’m guessing he’ll be left off 35-45 percent of the ballots when the votes are counted in January, despite never having failed a drug test.

And for that reason, I’m challenging Hall of Fame voters; if you don’t vote for him, call him out for using steroids. Say “I’m not voting for Piazza because I think he was a cheater.” Preferably present some evidence if you have it, but whether you do or not, make the reason clear. No wishy-washy stuff. There’s no excuse for leaving him off the ballot otherwise.

Latest Posts
  1. Blue Jays GM Alex Anthopoulos accuses Steve Tolleson of quitting on his team

    Aug 31, 2015, 11:25 AM EDT

    Steve Tolleson AP

    The Blue Jays GM said “Steve Tolleson just decided he didn’t want to play anymore.” Tolleson takes strong issue with that.

  2. Mets won’t use Steven Matz as a reliever

    Aug 31, 2015, 10:21 AM EDT

    Steven Matz AP

    Terry Collins says it wouldn’t be fair.

  3. The Indians and Mark Shapiro make it official, make statements about Shapiro going to Toronto

    Aug 31, 2015, 9:36 AM EDT

    Mark Shapiro Getty Images

    He won’t be officially introduced by the Jays until after the season.

  4. The Indians owner is trying to sell minority stakes in the team to raise cash

    Aug 31, 2015, 8:55 AM EDT

    Progressive Field

    It’s no surprise that Mark Shapiro felt that bolting to Toronto was a good idea

  5. And That Happened: Sunday’s scores and highlights

    Aug 31, 2015, 8:00 AM EDT

    Jake Arrieta Getty Images

    Jake Arrieta looked great last night. At least during his no-hitter. Afterward? Well, at least he looked comfortable.

  6. Giancarlo Stanton could return to the Marlins on Friday

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:55 PM EDT

    Giancarlo Stanton Giancarlo Stanton

    Giancarlo Stanton is getting close to returning to the Marlins. He’s slated to begin a rehab stint on Tuesday.

  7. Video: Jake Arrieta strikes out Chase Utley to complete his no-hitter

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:31 PM EDT

    Jake Arrieta Jake Arrieta

    Jake Arrieta struck out Chase Utley to complete his first career no-hitter.

  8. Jake Arrieta no-hits the Dodgers with 12 strikeouts

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:14 PM EDT

    Jake Arrieta Jake Arrieta

    Jake Arrieta made history on Sunday night, tossing a no-hitter against the Dodgers.

  9. Aaron Harang passed through waivers

    Aug 30, 2015, 11:05 PM EDT

    Aaron Harang Aaron Harang

    Aaron Harang wasn’t claimed when the Phillies put him on waivers, so any team can try and negotiate a trade if they’re desperate for rotation help.

  10. Padres claim Chris Rearick off waivers from the Rangers

    Aug 30, 2015, 10:15 PM EDT

    Chris Rearick Chris Rearick

    The Padres got Chris Rearick back, claiming him off waivers from the Rangers on Sunday.

  11. Blue Jays will name Mark Shapiro as the new team president

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:51 PM EDT

    Mark Shapiro Getty Images

    The Blue Jays are expected to name Mark Shapiro as the new team president.

  12. Yankees hang 20 runs on the Braves to complete a sweep in Atlanta

    Aug 30, 2015, 9:25 PM EDT

    Jacoby Ellsbury Jacoby Ellsbury

    The Braves were demolished by the Yankees on Sunday.

  13. Tim Lincecum suffers a setback in his injury rehab

    Aug 30, 2015, 8:35 PM EDT

    Tim Lincecum Tim Lincecum

    Tim Lincecum may have thrown his last pitch as a member of the Giants after suffering another setback in his recovery from hip and back injuries.

  14. Video: David Ortiz hits 494th career homer, passing Lou Gehrig and Fred McGriff

    Aug 30, 2015, 7:45 PM EDT

    David Ortiz Getty Images

    David Ortiz has sole possession of 27th place on baseball’s all-time home run leaderboard.

  15. Phillies claim Ken Roberts off waivers from the Rockies

    Aug 30, 2015, 6:55 PM EDT

    Ken Roberts Getty Images

    The Phillies added bullpen depth on Sunday, claiming Ken Roberts off waivers from the Rockies.

  16. Curtis Granderson thinks the moon landing was faked

    Aug 30, 2015, 6:05 PM EDT

    Curtis Granderson Curtis Granderson

    Curtis Granderson was prompted to say something controversial, so he did.

  17. Stephen Strasburg pulled after four rough innings on Sunday with discomfort in upper back

    Aug 30, 2015, 5:22 PM EDT

    Stephen Strasburg AP

    The 27-year-old missed most of July with an oblique strain and most of June with a trapezius strain.

  18. Video: Jeremy Guthrie robs Rays ballboy at The Trop

    Aug 30, 2015, 4:15 PM EDT

    guthrie mlb.tv

    Royals right-hander Jeremy Guthrie is doing some fine side work in his new long relief role …

  19. Josh Hamilton still unable to run due to sore left knee

    Aug 30, 2015, 3:28 PM EDT

    Josh Hamilton AP

    Josh Hamilton is likely to be activated off the disabled list Tuesday, September 1 when major league rosters expand, but it sounds like he’s going to be limited to pinch-hitting duties for a while.

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. G. Stanton (2603)
  2. B. Crawford (2417)
  3. Y. Puig (2347)
  4. G. Springer (2177)
  5. D. Wright (2055)
  1. J. Fernandez (2038)
  2. J. Hamilton (2037)
  3. C. Correa (1986)
  4. H. Ramirez (1971)
  5. D. Span (1941)