Mike Piazza: Still a Hall of Famer Given the Era He Once Played In?

Monday September 17th, 2012

Patrick Languzzi (Cooperstown Correspondent, Twitter @PatrickLanguzzi): 

Mike Piazza made his last major league appearance on September 30, 2007, which means Piazza will be eligible for his first National Baseball Hall of Fame ballot this December (the required five years before a player is deemed eligible).

Nicknamed the “Pizza Man” because he always delivered, Piazza’s record is as impressive as the rumors are pervasive.

Piazza was selected by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a favor to his father by Hall of Famer Tommy Lasorda. He was drafted as the 1,390th pick in the 62nd round of the 1988 Major League Baseball (MLB) Amateur Draft. He made his major league debut on September 1, 1992.

In 1993, his first full year in the majors, Piazza won the National League Rookie of the Year Award, hitting an impressive .318 with 35 home runs and 112 RBIs, as well as being selected to MLB’s All-Star game.

ACHIEVEMENTS:

Piazza finished his career appearing in 12 All-Star Games, winning 10 Silver Slugger awards, with 427 home runs (most by any catcher in MLB history). He also has a career .308 batting average, 1,335 RBIs, and was the recipient  of the 1996 MLB All-Star Game MVP award.

Piazza’s achievements also include:

  • One of 10 players to hit over 400 home runs with a .300 lifetime batting average, never to strike out more than 100 times in a season
  • Record 10-consecutive Silver Slugger Awards
  • 10 consecutive All-Star games
  • .545 SLG, highest by any catcher in MLB
  • .922 OPS, highest by any catcher in MLB
  • 1378 runs created, second most by any catcher in MLB
  • Hit .300 in nine-consecutive seasons (’93-’01)
  • Highest average by a National League catcher (.362 in 1997)
  • Second-longest RBI streak in MLB history, 15 consecutive games
  • More than 30 HRs in eight-consecutive seasons ’95-’02 (nine overall)

Tommy Glavine, his former Mets teammate, once called Mike Piazza a “first-ballot Hall of Famer, certainly the best hitting catcher of our era and arguably the best hitting catcher of all time”.

RUMORS:

According to Jeff Pearlman’s book, The Rocket That Fell To Earth, “…former MLB catcher Mike Piazza, used steroids and admitted it to at least one unnamed reporter”. Piazza has since denied using performance-enhancing drugs (PED’s).

Murray Chass, a former reporter for the New York Times wrote in his blog, “When steroids became a daily subject in newspaper articles I wanted to write about Piazza’s acne-covered back…But two or three times my editors at The New York Times would not allow it. Piazza, they said, had never been accused of using steroids so I couldn’t write about it”.

DISPELLING THE RUMORS:

Piazza, was never listed in The Mitchell Report and never failed any drug tests or received any suspensions by MLB, at least that I’m aware of?

His play was consistent since joining the California League single A Bakersfield, where he hit 64 HRs with a .310 average over four seasons in the minors.

That power and average displayed in the minors transcended into the majors where Piazza remained consistent throughout his career: 36 home runs with a .308 average over a 162 game schedule that included 16 major league seasons.

In a recent conversation I had with an undisclosed voting member of the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), when asked if he thought Piazza was a Hall of Famer, I was told, “I would need to take a close look, but will err on the side of “no” with all players now — unless, the case is overwhelming.”

Is Piazza’s case overwhelming?

The question then remains: Is Mike Piazza a Hall of Famer, given the era he once played in?

Sources: Schwarz, Alan. NY Times, May 21, 2008, Baseball-reference.com, Baseball-almanac.com, Chazz, Murray. Murray Chass on Baseball, March 4, 2009

(*The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com*)

***Today’s feature was prepared by our Cooperstown Correspondent, Patrick Languzzi. We highly encourage you to leave your comments and feedback at the bottom of the page and share in the discussion with our readers. You can also follow Patrick on Twitter (@PatrickLanguzzi) Also, please feel free to check out Patrick’s grass roots campaign in support of Dwight “Dewey” Evans for the Hall of Fame at: Call to the Hall***

 

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Posted on September 17, 2012, in The Rest: Everything Baseball and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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