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. Rangers snap Astros’ 10-game winning streak

    May 4, 2015, 11:25 PM EDT

    Delino DeShields Jr.;Hank Conger AP

    The Astros hadn’t lost a game since April 22.

  2. UPDATE: Hanley Ramirez exits game with a left shoulder sprain

    May 4, 2015, 10:43 PM EDT

    hanley

    Ramirez suffered the injury when he ran into the wall along the left-field line while attempting to make a catch.

  3. UPDATE: Anthony Rendon diagnosed with oblique strain

    May 4, 2015, 10:13 PM EDT

    anthony rendon getty Getty Images

    Anthony Rendon’s long road back from a left knee sprain has hit a roadblock due to an oblique strain.

  4. Jeff Karstens announces his retirement

    May 4, 2015, 10:05 PM EDT

    Pittsburgh Pirates v New York Mets Getty Images

    Jeff Karstens hasn’t appeared in the majors since 2012 due to injury and today he took to Instagram to announce his retirement from baseball.

  5. Mariners place Austin Jackson on disabled list with a right ankle sprain

    May 4, 2015, 9:03 PM EDT

    austin jackson ap AP

    Jackson sprained his ankle during Sunday’s game and will require an extended absence.

  6. Blue Jays hitting coach Brook Jacoby suspended 14 games for conduct toward umpiring crew

    May 4, 2015, 7:34 PM EDT

    Tampa Bay Rays v Toronto Blue Jays Getty Images

    MLB brought the hammer down really hard on Blue Jays hitting coach Brook Jacoby for an incident with the umpiring crew while the team was in Boston last week.

  7. Alex Cobb shut down after setback with forearm injury

    May 4, 2015, 6:35 PM EDT

    Alex Cobb AP

    Rays right-hander Alex Cobb has been sidelined since the middle of March due to forearm tendinitis and it doesn’t sound like he’ll be back in the near future.

  8. Rockies closer Adam Ottavino needs Tommy John surgery

    May 4, 2015, 5:29 PM EDT

    Adam Ottavino AP

    Ottavino finishes the season with a 0.00 ERA and 13/2 K/BB ratio in 10 innings.

  9. Nelson Cruz, Adrian Gonzalez named Players of the Month

    May 4, 2015, 5:11 PM EDT

    Nelson Cruz Nelson Cruz

    The pitchers and rookies of the month were also named.

  10. Twins place Oswaldo Arcia on DL, call up prospect Eddie Rosario

    May 4, 2015, 4:20 PM EDT

    Oswaldo Arcia AP

    Not so long ago Rosario was viewed as a very good prospect, but …

  11. Video: Debating Pete Rose’s possible reinstatement

    May 4, 2015, 4:17 PM EDT

    pete rose getty Getty Images

    Are we now to the “when,” rather than the “if” portion of the Rose reinstatement debate?

  12. Nick Swisher set to rejoin Indians after two knee surgeries

    May 4, 2015, 2:50 PM EDT

    Oakland Athletics v Cleveland Indians Getty Images

    He’s being paid $15 million this season and is owed another $15 million in 2016.

  13. Did the Brewers follow the “Selig Rule” in hiring Craig Counsell?

    May 4, 2015, 12:25 PM EDT

    Brewers logo

    The Selig rule requires that requires that every club consider minority candidates for manager positions. There really wasn’t a search for Ron Roenicke’s replacement in Milwaukee.

  14. Craig Counsell gets a three-year deal to manage the Brewers

    May 4, 2015, 11:29 AM EDT

    Craig Counsell Getty Images

    Milwaukee now has the guy who had easily the best batting stance of any current manager.

  15. Orioles shortstop J.J. Hardy cleared for rehab assignment

    May 4, 2015, 11:19 AM EDT

    St. Louis Cardinals v Baltimore Orioles Getty Images

    Nearly a month ago Hardy was said to be “close” to starting a rehab stint.

  16. Quote of the Day: A-Rod isn’t gonna talk about the $6 million home run bonus

    May 4, 2015, 10:30 AM EDT

    Alex Rodriguez Getty Images

    He says “it’s family business” and that “the old A-Rod is gone.”

Top 10 MLB Player Searches
  1. A. Rendon (3458)
  2. J. Hamilton (2967)
  3. D. Span (2850)
  4. D. Wright (2579)
  5. A. Colome (2559)
  1. A. Pujols (2508)
  2. D. Jennings (2500)
  3. A. Escobar (2429)
  4. C. Gomez (2353)
  5. A. Bradley (2299)