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“The idea that Mike Piazza’s power came from nowhere is a farce”

Jan 10, 2014, 12:44 PM EDT

piazzamike_g_110911_420_1-1 Getty Images

Some must-click linkage today from Dan Lewis over at Amazin’ Avenue. It’s about how Mike Piazza’s power clearly came late and out of a syringe.

Oh, wait. That’s not right. It’s about how that idea — which is widely parroted among Piazza’s naysayers and reported in Jeff Pearlman’s book about Rogers Clemens — is total bunk. Piazza always had power. The fact that he was, quite famously, a 62nd round draft pick instead of a big prospect is not because no one thought he had power, but because he was scouted as a right-handed first baseman who couldn’t field that position too well. As Lewis notes, however, Piazza’s power was noted by the man who scouted him and was manifest even when he was a low-level minor leaguer.

Yes, Piazza was a surprise of sorts. And it’s totally possible that, while we have no evidence of it now, it will one day be revealed that, yes, Piazza took PEDs. But the talking point that has worked strongly against his candidacy — “that guy had no power and was a low draft pick, so he must have been ‘roiding” is totally bogus.

Great job putting this together, Dan.

Note: if you like Dan’s post, you should totally sign up for his daily newsletter, called “Now I Know.” It’s not about baseball. It’s about everything. Neat and amazing fact, feats and scientific and historical events. I read it every morning and it’s almost always stuff I never, ever would have believed beforehand.

  1. shaggylocks - Jan 10, 2014 at 12:51 PM

    Sure, but he had backne! BACKNE! I’m no medical expert, but I’m pretty sure that’s only physically possible if you’re taking PEDs.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:02 PM

      Maybe, but have you ever examined the size of his testicles? Why aren’t we asking THAT question?

      • tfbuckfutter - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:24 PM

        Rumor has it a lot of guys can answer that question.

        Poor Mike. He has to be the subject of more seemingly baseless rumors than any other athlete.

        During the strike my parents came home from an Italian restaurant and their waiter was supposedly a baseball player…they insisted it was Mike Piazza.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:39 PM

        And I have to wonder, if that’s not the true reasoning for a lot of the Piazza hate.

      • xdj511 - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:49 PM

        Piazza is married to a former Playmate and they have children together. I remember the rumors 15 years ago that a major New York sports athlete was gay… but it wasn’t Mike Piazza.

        Speaking of the strike… there was an episode of Married With Children about the baseball strike which featured several stars… I think Piazza was the cameraman for Dave Winfield who was being a reporter. That’s what he was doing during the strike.

      • wlschneider09 - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:06 PM

        Cause that’s just nuts, man.

        What, am I the only one willing to tackle the low hanging fruit?

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:19 PM

        Better be careful, with language like that people will start to accuse you of doing steroids too!

      • asimonetti88 - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:16 PM

        “Maybe, but have you ever examined the size of his testicles?”

        Let’s ask Murray Chass.

      • ralphrc - Feb 27, 2014 at 1:11 AM

        His nuts are as shriveled as a cold front during a blizzard ~~ Sam Champion

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:27 PM

      If I was Mike Piazza I would call the HOF, thank them for their consideration and ask them to please remove my name from the ballot.

      I know no one here knows me personally but I really would do what I wrote, I bet he is financially set up for his life, he likes his privacy and let’s be real here, it’s not like the guys
      in the hall of fame get together and play baseball.

  2. scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:01 PM

    I still believe people give PEDs too much credit. They act like a person on PEDs are going to hit 50 more home runs a year, when in reality, they likely add very little actual benefit. Yes, some PEDs allow a player to stay healthier a little longer, and some PEDs allow a player to recover quicker, thus work out longer than typical, but this isn’t Popeye and his spinach here. Are they illegal? Yes. Are they wrong? Yes. Are PEDs the sole reason for anyone’s success? No. Even if Piazza used steroids, it likely added very little to his success.

    I’ve been playing sports all of my life, and even I know that you could give me all the PEDs in the world, I’m never going to step onto a field and lead the league in home runs.

    • Rich Stowe - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      Brady Anderson – carry high 16 HRs in a season…uses Roids, hits 50…

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:36 PM

        Do you have any proof that Brady Anderson used steroids? And that he did so in only one year? And that steroids were the sole reason for his performance that one year?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:38 PM

        [stealing this from PL, i think]

        Ok let’s assume that this is true, that Anderson took PEDs, hit 50 HR. Ok, why did he stop? Did he think, wow, I hit a ton of HR thanks to these amazing wonder drugs, I should probably stop and go back to being a mediocre player?

        Don’t you think he would have kept taking them, signed a huge deal and set himself up for life?

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:43 PM

        @Church

        There is just something that feels so wrong and dirty about regularly agreeing with an admitted Yankees fan. I feel like I’m not breathing out of my eyelids.

      • schlom - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:51 PM

        You are an idiot. Why don’t you look at his stats before making stupid statements like that? His career high before 1996 was 21 in 1992. And in 1996 there were roughly 55% more HR per game than there was in 1996. But that obviously had nothing to do with it.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:55 PM

        Brady Anderson hit a lot of home runs in one season. Steroids are the ONLY possible explanation. Because logic. And I’m the idiot.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:56 PM

        There’s a couple of factors to consider in Brady’s case….

        He hit 50 HRs in 1996 which was unexpected…..but that is also the year he started hitting in front of Roberto Alomar Jr so he presumably was seeing more hittable pitches than when he was hitting ahead of Bret Barberie.

        But if you look at his numbers, in a 5 year span starting in 1996, he had 4 of his 5 best seasons. 1996 was enigmatic, but 1997 and 1999 he OPSed 80-100 points higher than his career averages, and 40 points higher than he had in any other season aside from 1996.

      • cohnjusack - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:12 PM

        Brady Anderson – carry high 16 HRs in a season…uses Roids, hits 50…

        Then apparently stops using roids because he went right back down to 18.

      • paperlions - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        If it makes you feel any better scoutsays, you can just think of it as agreeing with me. :-)

        Every time there is a “steroids make you hit HRs” argument and people give examples, it is easy to point out how the data are inconsistent with how they think steroids work. Anderson is the best example. Outlier seasons happen.

        Bonds is another great example of an outler HR season. If he never hit 50 HRs in a season, what would people have said? Here are Bonds’ HR totals from 1993 (when the new baseball was introduced and offense suddenly exploded) until his last healthy season (2004):

        46
        37 (112 games)
        33
        42
        40
        37
        34 (102 games)
        49
        73
        46
        45
        45

        He hit HRs at pretty much the same rate when he was skinny as when he was huge EXCEPT for one season. We know he used roids heavily for at least the last 6 seasons on that list. Why did he only hit 73 once? He just decided he didn’t want to do it anymore? Or maybe it was just a combination of luck, skill, and environment with a dash of roids thrown in. ..because if it was all (or mostly) roids, then it should have happened every year.

      • cohnjusack - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:39 PM

        I have to disagree with you there paper (it buuuuurnnns!!!), but he really didn’t hit home runs at the same rate in the 00s. He had similar home run totals, but he was also getting walked 200 times a year. His HR/AB ratio went from once every 12.9 AB from 1993-1998 to once every 8.5 AB from 1999-2004.

      • paperlions - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:54 PM

        There were a lot of factors. Bonds also completely changed his swing during that period. I wish there was batted ball data from back then to see if his FB rate changed. With the estimates of distance added to FB by extra strength, those 15 ft or so wouldn’t have made much difference on most of Bonds’ HRs, he didn’t hit many balls that barely made it out.

      • cohnjusack - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:07 PM

        I don’t disagree. But the increase in home runs per swing was there. This could also be due to the fact that the guy literally stopped swinging at anything he couldn’t cream. He never went out of the zone much before, but he sure as hell didn’t after 2000. Obviously that would also be a factor in increasing his HR/AB rate.

        I think the lesson here is that it is impossible to know what impact steroids had on the statistics of any individual player, so maybe we should stop trying. We don’t know who used, we don’t know how much it did for them(if anything at all) and maybe we should just stop worrying about it and remember that MLB was pretty loose with it at the time and just admire that someone put up a 1.379 OPS…and that it was just his 3rd best.

      • fanofevilempire - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:23 PM

        maybe Grady was taking the Flinstone vitamin, more specifically the bam bam one.

      • Roger Moore - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:32 PM

        With Bonds, I don’t think you can separate the issue of his hitting style from his use of PEDs. Sure, he had to have the skill to take advantage of the raw strength PEDs gave him, but the changes in his playing style were made to take advantage of muscles that were built at least in part on PED use. He changed to more of an uppercut swing because his extra muscle made an uppercut swing more advantageous. He took more pitches because he had an even faster swing, which gave him a hair more time to judge the pitch, and because the pitchers were even more afraid to leave anything in the strike zone. You can’t separate the changes in his style of play from the underlying boost in strength that enabled those changes.

      • NatsLady - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:37 PM

        OK, so here’s a guy whose HR totals were as follows.

        PAs/HRs

        541/7
        586/10
        559/9
        580/7
        600/10
        574/18
        435/5
        ———-changed teams from AL to NL———-
        651/43
        540/15

        After that, this player went to Japan for two years, returned and his playing career fizzled.

        So–what happened in 1973 when this player was age 30?

      • anxovies - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:22 PM

        He would had continued to knock them over the fences but the back acne got so bad that he had to quit taking PEDs.

      • Reflex - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:43 PM

        Paper – Again, I agree with a lot of what you say, but I’m going to keep calling you out about your ‘new ball’ theory until you can substantiate it with more than a really flawed internet article and then explain when the ‘new ball’ changed back to the ‘old ball’ with evidence.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 7:05 PM

        @paper, I know, you’re the other Yankees fan I almost always seem to agree with. It kills me to have logical, rational conversation with a fan of a team that’s “supposed” to be full of nothing but foaming at the mouth, angry, bitter, children. STOP BEING SO REASONABLE!

        Seriously though, I practically grew up in Yankees territory in northern New Jorsey and have a great amount of respect for the passion and intelligence the majority of the fanbase has. It’s a shame the verbal minority always ruins it for the rest of us.

      • Kevin S. - Jan 10, 2014 at 9:00 PM

        You just mortally wounded paper – he’s a Cardinal fan.

      • braxtonrob - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:36 AM

        @NatsLady, Great example! of Davey Johnson.
        That’s immediately who I thought of too when I read @Stowe’s inane accusation of Brady Anderson.

    • NatsLady - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:13 PM

      I dunno. Many years ago, when I was in my twenties, I had to take hormones before surgery, including testosterone. Bodily changes were apparent within days. My muscles, leg muscles especially, got huge and very strong with my only workout being bike riding (which I had always done). Just before the surgery I could definitely have stepped on a men’s playing field and stolen quite a few bases.

      • NatsLady - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:15 PM

        This is not a commentary on Piazza, just on the idea that PEDs have little or no effect.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:38 PM

        Oh, I don’t believe they have no effect, I just believe the people would like us to believe that steroids are the sole reason that players performed well at all. That Mike Piazza for example was only good because of steroids, and without steroids (Of which use hasn’t been proven) he wouldn’t have even been in the major leagues.

      • craigssideburns - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:46 PM

        Sex change?

    • tfbuckfutter - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:27 PM

      You’re missing one MAJOR benefit of PEDs….that “helps them recover quicker” applies to working out as well.

      So they are able to work out longer, harder, and more frequently.

      And that builds strength. And stronger muscles allow you to do things you already good do, only at a higher level. I.E. throw harder, swing a bat faster, run faster, etc.

      And if you don’t think swinging a bat faster, with more dense matter behind it, doesn’t lead to a ball being hit farther than I suggest you take a basic class in physics.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:34 PM

        I didn’t miss that point, in fact I mentioned that in my comments. I’m not saying that PEDs don’t have some benefit to a player, simply that I believe people overstate and exaggerate the benefits.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:46 PM

        You mostly negated their benefits in working out in the same breath though.

        No one suggests that steroids would help a Manny Alexander become a 30 HR guy.

        What they DO is take pretty much any player, and bump them up to the next level. Allowing a Manny Alexander to hang around in the majors a bit, or pushing a Barry Bonds from a great player to a player who is making a mockery of the sport.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:00 PM

        How many minor league players who hit .202 with 5 home runs are busted for steroids every year? How come steroids aren’t pushing those players to substantial home run totals? My argument is one of degrees, and I certainly see your side of things. I just think our opinions are off by a few degrees, while we do agree in basic principle.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:02 PM

        Those minor leaguers would probably be out of baseball if not for their enhanced ability to hit .202 with 5 HRs.

        They’d be hitting .250 with 10 HRs in legion ball.

      • cohnjusack - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:29 PM

        @tfbuckfutter

        I urge you to read the chapter in Baseball Between The Numbers which studies minor leaguers suspended for steroid use, and the lack of change in their statistics pre and post positive test.

      • paperlions - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:40 PM

        Actually, we know that using steroids most certainly does not take any player and “bump” him up to the next level.

        Feel free to look at the list of players that have known steroid ties and find me all of these bumps to the next level.

        Hitting is a highly derived skill. Being stronger doesn’t always mean you hit the ball harder or farther. Many HR hitters are big (tall and long) but not muscular because that build allows them to generate more leverage and bat speed. There are plenty of really strong guys that don’t hit for power (Roger Bernadina is freaking built like superman and he can’t hit a lick).

      • halfthemoney - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:46 PM

        It’s a well known fact that Mickey Mantle might have used some suspicious substances in 1961 so based on that Roger Maris used steroids. So did Craig Biggio.

      • anxovies - Jan 10, 2014 at 6:30 PM

        If Jim Beam and unfiltered Camel cigarettes are suspicious substances then I guess Mantle was a juicer.

    • scottousse - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:29 PM

      Luis Gonzalez – career high 31hr – uses roids 57 Bombs!

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:36 PM

        Do you have any proof that steroids and steroids alone caused Gonzalez to go from 31 to 57 home runs? This also must mean that if Gonzalez used steroids, he did so in only one year, then stopped.

      • cohnjusack - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:14 PM

        Luis Gonzalez – career high 31hr – uses roids 57 Bombs!

        Then apparently stopped using steroids because he went right back down to 28.

        You can’t point to a one year jump in HR totals and scream “steroids” when it goes right back to normal the very next year…unless you believe the player used them for one year and thought “these make me too awesome” and then quits using them.

      • tfbuckfutter - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:17 PM

        Maybe they decided they preferred having normal sized testicles.

    • jrob23 - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:46 PM

      nope. PED are taken for a reason. HGH and Steroids in combo with working out increase size and strength. If it didn’t why would players take it? If it didn’t, why did most of them become noticeably larger and their power numbers increased? If it didn’t, why did pitchers gain velocity on their fastballs and find the fountain of youth in their mid 30s?

      Until people put two and two together, which is, bigger muscles, along with talent, means a faster swing. This means they can wait on the ball longer. Basically they can see the ball better because they have longer to wait on it. With their increased swing speed any contact will result on a harder hit ball. It’s not rocket science.

      And Craig, NOBODY thought Piazza’s power came out of nowhere based on where he was drafted. They thought HE came out of nowhere. Nice try.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:50 PM

        I’m not disputing any benefit, just that the benefits are not as great as people would like us to believe. The benefits of steroids in relation to baseball have yet to be proven anywhere.

        There is also no proof that muscle size or strength in general relates to baseball skill and power. Look at many players like Ken Griffy Jr. Look at Babe Ruth. By that logic, Arnold Schwarzenegger in his prime should have been able to belt 60 or 70 home runs.

      • paperlions - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:44 PM

        Players do a lot of things that don’t work. Players think creatine worked and that andro worked, but every clinical study shows that placebo groups increase muscle mass the same as those that received the drugs…feel free to provide evidence to the contrary.

        HGH does NOTHING beneficial for healthy young adults. In fact, taking exogenous HGH is a performance inhibitor as it significantly decreases stamina during workouts of otherwise healthy individuals that take it. It does not help those individuals recover from workouts and it does not help develop lean muscle mass. Your body already produces all of the HGH it needs, extra HGH doesn’t do anything good.

      • clydeserra - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:11 PM

        why would players use those stupid necklaces that “channel energy” or some such nonsense, or the compression sleeves?

        They do those things because they are dumb gullible kids who believe everything they hear.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:13 PM

        If it didn’t why would players take it?</blockquote.

        The same reason they think those Phigten necklaces/bracelets work, or wearing lucky underwear, or hooking up with a slumpbuster (sorry), etc. Just because the players THINK it works doesn't mean it actually does.

        why did most of them become noticeably larger and their power numbers increased?

        One giant [citation needed] here. For as many players as you THINK used PEDs and got huge, we can name people who were caught and didn’t.

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:14 PM

        ugh formatting fail again

        If it didn’t why would players take it?

        The same reason they think those Phigten necklaces/bracelets work, or wearing lucky underwear, or hooking up with a slumpbuster (sorry), etc. Just because the players THINK it works doesn’t mean it actually does.

        why did most of them become noticeably larger and their power numbers increased?

        One giant [citation needed] here. For as many players as you THINK used PEDs and got huge, we can name people who were caught and didn’t.

    • ochospantalones - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:52 PM

      I am no anti-PEDs absolutist (I would absolutely vote for Bonds and Clemens for the Hall of Fame), but I think it is probably overstating the case a bit to say they add very little to a player’s success. Look at Bonds. Without PED’s he was one of the top two position players of his era and a surefire Hall of Famer. With PEDs he put up a series of the greatest offensive seasons ever. We was great before, but the leap from perennial MVP candidate to Babe Ruth is a pretty big one.

      I do think the idea that anyone could pop a few pills and then suddenly bash 50 homers is ridiculous. If that were true anyone would have done it. PEDs can single-handedly turn a useless 62nd round pick into the greatest offensive catcher ever? Then why didn’t everyone else in the 62nd round do the same thing? Truth is, we know plenty of mediocre (Jason Grimsley) or outright bad (pretty much every random Latino who tests positive these days) players took PEDs and it didn’t transform them all into supermen.

      Basically, in order for Performance Enhancing Drugs to enhance your performance to all time great levels, you do need to have a very high level of ability to begin with. They’re not magic, you still need to have serious skills and put in the work.

      • cohnjusack - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:22 PM

        Here’s why I think steroids have a much greater effect on the home run power of some players more than others.
        Let’s say the increase in muscle that can be added by working out with a steroids regime can increase your batseed by a small percentage that then increases the velocity of the ball coming off the bat at a small degree…say 5% (number pulled directly from my ass).

        A 300 foot flyout ball traveling an additional 5% is just a 315 foot flyout. A 370 flyout is now 388 feet, an a potential out turns into a home run. A guy with very little power won’t add much to his home run total, a guy with a bit might add some, and a guy with a lot might will see a lot of warning track flies now go over the fence. There was a study somewhere once that discussed this in detail and it seems to make sense in my non science brain. But it’s hardly foolproof or beyond criticism. And you certainly can’t apply this to every power hitter who used steroids.

      • fanofevilempire - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:35 PM

        Does anyone know why steroids never made Piazza a better defensive player?

      • Francisco (FC) - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:08 PM

        And each player is affected differently. Barry Bonds was a freak of nature, why do we all think PEDs will do to everyone what they did to Bonds?

    • braxtonrob - Jan 11, 2014 at 5:26 AM

      @scoutsay, I see what you’re saying, and you’re somewhat correct, but the reality is if you take enough of them and get strong enough to turn your long fly-ball OUTS into HIT HR’s, then you’ve just successfully turned your stats from ordinary to Frankensteinian. (<- translation, that means Scary)

      The fact is, without PED's, all our new HR records would be non-existent.

    • thebaltimoron - Jan 17, 2014 at 4:13 PM

      You’re incredibly naive if you don’t think steroid significantly improve baseball performance. Take a look at the MVP awards the past 15 years. Look at the HR totals. I don’t understand how you deniers don’t see that adding 30 pounds of muscle wouldn’t help a guy who is already a professional baseball player.

      • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 17, 2014 at 5:44 PM

        So, Miguel Cabrera, Adrew McCutchen, Buster Posey, Justin Verlander, Joey Votto, Albert Pujols, Joe Mauer, Dustin Pedroia, Jimmy Rollins, Justin Morneau, Ryan Howard, were all on steroids? Because they’ve all won MVP awards in the past 15 years.

        Take a look at Alex Rodriguez before steroids and after steroids. There is no noticeable difference. There is also absolutely zero evidence that muscle = home runs. Some of the biggest guys I’ve ever seen could barely put a ball out of the park, while some of the smallest absolutely crush the ball. Just like in Golf, muscle doesn’t = longer drives. Thinner, stronger bats, tighter cores in baseballs, smaller ball parks, bats with bigger sweet spots, hand-eye coordination, reflexes, video tape, all play big factors in the distance a ball travels. But go ahead and blame everything on the magic elixir if it makes you feel better, because life is always just that simple.

      • simalex - Jan 22, 2014 at 4:33 PM

        “I don’t understand how you deniers don’t see that adding 30 pounds of muscle wouldn’t help a guy who is already a professional baseball player.”

        Because being “ripped” or “huge” has nothing to do with having a fundamentally sound baseball swing and/or exceptional eye-hand?

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 17, 2014 at 5:46 PM

      http://hardballtalk.nbcsports.com/2010/08/06/steroids-do-not-help-hitters-hit-home-runs/

  3. El Pollo Loco - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    he just wanted to say that he’s still not gay

  4. cbosa - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:11 PM

    It’s funny that everyone says Piazza did PED but no body has concrete proof. He was never named in the Mitchell report and never was associated with any PED users. Just speculation which is ashame since Piazza should be in the hall already.

    • scoutsaysweitersisabust - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:47 PM

      PEDs and Baseball are the Salem Witch Trials or the McCarthy hearings all over again. No proof is necessary, just fling wild accusations at people you have a personal vendetta against, and watch the rumormongers take charge as a person’s life is ruined.

  5. agentmaxwell - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:31 PM

    Dan’s “Now I Know” email is my favorite thing in my inbox each day. It’s earned me more than a few free rounds at the local watering hole.

  6. billybawl - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:39 PM

    To play devil’s advocate here, isn’t the suspicion about Piazza not that he turned from a 150-pound weakling into to a musclebound 250-pound because of steroids, but that he was an already big and strong guy who got stronger because of steroids? I don’t think the idea that his power came from nowhere is all that widespread, though I’m sure some say this as hyperbole. Even the quotes used by Lewis express amazement that Piazza went from the lowest round of the draft to one of the best hitters of all time — not that he was once a wimp. To paraphrase expert juicer, Jose Canseco: steroids [could] make an exceptional athlete legendary. I think that’s the overriding concern with Piazza’s case.

    FWIW, I don’t think mere suspicions should keep him out of the HOF, and to criticize him for not offering an unambigous denial is both unfair to him and extremely naive. Denials mean zip. As useful as looking deep into someone’s eyes to see if they’re lying.

  7. sdelmonte - Jan 10, 2014 at 1:48 PM

    Amazin’ Avenue has become my favorite Mets blog. In a field where the usual Mets blog tend towards being really depressed or really surly, this one is intelligent and balanced, the internet cousin to the kind of smart coverage of the Mets we get from Gary Cohen and friends.

  8. electstat - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:43 PM

    May have something to do with his HR total jumping from 6 to 29 between 90 and 91 in only 30 more games.

    With that said, I don’t really care if he was on PEDs or not. Former pitcher Tom House said that PEDs, not just greenies, were in the clubhouses in the late 60’s. Even Hank Aaron had his best HR year 18 years into his career (also was his least games played since his rookie year). I think players have been juicing the real stuff since the 60’s. Why weren’t their bodies like the gorilla’s of the 90’s? Because they didn’t train 12 months of the year. The overwhelming majority had real jobs during the off season. Just look at a bunch of the HOF player stats and you’ll see that alot of numbers got a lot better the same time PEDs were rampant in the Olympics and making their way to the NFL. Why wouldn’t Americas Favorite Pastime players be juicing when every other competitive sport was?

    • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:19 PM

      May have something to do with his HR total jumping from 6 to 29 between 90 and 91 in only 30 more games.

      Hank Aaron:
      Age 20 – (122G) 13 HR
      Age 21 – (153G) 27 HR
      Age 22 – (153G) 26 HR
      Age 23 – (151G) 44 HR

      You can do this with almost anyone. Come on people, i’d say anywhere between 95-98% of this board is male. Were you working out during this time? You could put 10-20lbs on easily because this is how our body works. Also note that Piazza repeated his year at A+ when he went from 6 to 27.

      • electstat - Jan 10, 2014 at 4:52 PM

        you missed the point…but you also mislead that Piazza repeated his year at A+ after hitting 27. He started the next season in AA and finished in the bigs after hitting 23 HR between AA and AAA.

        It could also be argued that the year that Aaron went from 26 to 44 HR was that same year that testosterone was being used in the Olympics. Coincidence?

      • churchoftheperpetuallyoutraged - Jan 10, 2014 at 5:03 PM

        but you also mislead that Piazza repeated his year at A+ after hitting 27.

        No, I didnt

        http://www.baseball-reference.com/minors/player.cgi?id=piazza001mic#standard_batting::none

        Age 20; A-; 8 HR
        Age 21, A+; 6 HR
        Age 22, A+; 29 HR

        He repeated the same level. Now, he went to the CAL league from the Florida State, but here’s also what changed:

        1990 – 1991, average OPS
        FSL: .656 – .639
        CAL: .712 – .721

        So he went to a league that hit anywhere from .070 to .080 higher in SLG. So better hitting league + repeating a year + typical male growth could be the reason, couldn’t it?

    • braxtonrob - Jan 11, 2014 at 6:00 AM

      Tom House is frickin’ moron. I’d take what he says with minuscule grain of salt.

  9. President Charles Logan - Jan 10, 2014 at 2:51 PM

    Johnny Bench was the greatest Catcher of all time. Piazza juiced…. end of story.

    • fanofevilempire - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:14 PM

      and that’s that!

      • President Charles Logan - Jan 10, 2014 at 7:11 PM

        nope i hate all NY teams im from alabama

      • cohnjusack - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:26 PM

        nope i hate all NY teams im from alabama

        “Fascinating”, says no one.

    • cohnjusack - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:36 PM

      Number of people arguing that Piazza was the greatest catcher ever: 0
      Percent of players in the Hall of Fame who are not the best at their respective position: 199/208
      Evidence that shows Mike Piazza was on steroids: None.

      • paperlions - Jan 11, 2014 at 12:11 PM

        Just looking for a place to reply to the above Bonds discussion. Yes, Bonds HR rate went up, but so did the league rate, and at about the same % change as bonds. Here are the AB/HR rates by year from 1987 to 2002.

        1988 44.7
        1989 46.5
        1990 42.9
        1991 42.5
        1992 47.1
        1993 38.4
        1994 33.5
        1995 34.0
        1996 31.7
        1997 33.6
        1998 33.0
        1999 30.2
        2000 29.4
        2001 30.6
        2002 32.8

        Notice the big dip in 1993, the year the new ball was introduced mid-year, and another dip in 1994 which was maintained throughout that time period. HRs were hit about 33% more often, similar to the change in Bond’s rates, though I don’t think the years of change line up perfectly, but there will be a lot more error in individual rates than in league-wide rates. The data so show that all of a sudden HRs were a LOT easier to hit for everyone….and in general, they weren’t all that much easier for Bonds to hit compared to before than they were for anyone else

  10. realitypolice - Jan 10, 2014 at 3:12 PM

    You know what drug would almost undoubtedly have an immediate positive effect on a players performance on the field? Amphetamines! And their use was rampant throughout baseball for decades. How many athletes are in the Hall of Fame that used them? They weren’t even against the rules until recently.

    So while it is worth debating to what extent steriods and HGH may enhance performance, and whether steroid users should or should not be eligible for the HOF, I think a more important question is how baseball writers justify their hypocrisy in picking and choosing which performance enhancing drugs disqualify you from the Hall of Fame and which ones don’t.

  11. djpostl - Jan 10, 2014 at 5:53 PM

    The scouting report kind of works agianst your entire premise. Says right in it “average hitter” and “has ally power”. Not exactly endorsing the notion he had big-time HR power.

    • raysfan1 - Jan 10, 2014 at 8:16 PM

      Not really. It clearly indicates his best potential is in power production. It also was judging him as a 1B, where I’d think the power potential would graded a bit tougher. He has the ML record for most HRs by a catcher, but his total HR count is still off the 1B record by 139. The point wasn’t that it was clear from the scouting report that 17-year-old Michael Piazza would one day be the hitter he became–it was that being a power hitter was the one aspect of it that was not a surprise.

      • djpostl - Jan 11, 2014 at 12:15 AM

        I don’t see how a positional difference impacts the phrase “ally power”. That means he is a doubles hitter who can find the walls via the alleys.

  12. disgracedfury - Jan 10, 2014 at 10:42 PM

    What were Mike Piazza’s minor league numbers?Heard he a Bagwell didn’t have great numbers in the minors.

    Which isn’t a cheating signal but to go from a guy who might have power to the best hitting catcher of all time is quite suspicious.

  13. jacque1981 - Jan 10, 2014 at 11:11 PM

    Where did all these sanctimonious voters/writers come from? Just look at the hall. They have racists, druggies, alcoholics, wife beaters, and more.

    The difference is not what the players did. It is what the writers became. Years ago, they never went into the personal lives of any athlete. They kept it on the field. Now, sports writing is about who they are dating and what they do in their personal time. To be fair, athletes do not help when they are posting stuff about themselves on twitter.

    Keep in mind, as much as they don’t like it, Sosa and McGwire saved baseball. Sportswriters may not have jobs today, if it was not for their home run chase. Sosa was also a great ambassador for the game. I remember him flying kids into New York all the time and paying for their surgeries.

    The worst part is that they have no proof about about Piazza. He deserves the benefit of a doubt. Let him in and stop thinking we are as outraged about PEDs as you are. We aren’t. We were entertained.

  14. braxtonrob - Jan 11, 2014 at 6:06 AM

    Are (some of) you all incapable of going to baseball-reference.com? Just look up his MiLB records; he ALWAYS hit for power. If it didn’t say it in some fool-scout’s report, then that scout sucked at his job, didn’t he.

  15. hisgirlgotburrelled - Jan 12, 2014 at 4:15 PM

    I mentioned this before last year when he was not selected for the hall of fame:

    His power was evident when he was in high school. As told by someone that played with him and one that pitched against him, he was hitting huge HR’s in high school. One in particular that sailed over the fence, across a road, and hit the roof of the house, which is in right field. I drive by that field every day and, metal bat or not, that’s a huge HR for any high schooler.

    http://miscbaseball.wordpress.com/2012/02/06/mike-piazza-in-high-school-near-philadelphia/

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