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Should Mike Piazza be in the Baseball Hall of Fame

Mike Piazza meets with the media at a

Mike Piazza meets with the media at a press conference on May 23, 1998, at Shea Stadium a few minutes after arriving at the ballpark. Piazza was traded to the Mets from the Florida Marlins on May 22 after spending less than a week with the team. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mike Piazza, the longtime Dodgers and Mets catcher who also made cameos with the Marlins, Padres and Athletics, is one of the greatest offensive catchers in baseball history.

It's reasonable to think the only question that remains is which hat does he wear on his Baseball Hall of Fame plaque -- Mets or Dodgers? But there is a case to be made against Piazza, too.

This is Piazza's third year on the ballot. Last year, he received 62.2 percent of the vote, up from the 57.8 percent in his first year. A player needs to appear on 75 percent of the ballots cast to be enshrined in Cooperstown.

Should Mike Piazza be in the Baseball Hall of Fame?

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Here's a look at both sides of the debate heading into Tuesday's Class of 2015 Hall of Fame announcement.


The greatest case for Piazza comes by comparing him to the catchers already in Cooperstown:

Piazza has 427 career home runs. But, perhaps more important, 396 of his long balls came at the catcher position, making him the greatest home-run hitting catcher ever. Johnny Bench hit the second most with 389.

His .545 slugging percentage eclipses current Hall of Fame leader Roy Campanella's .500 slugging percentage at catcher.

His .308 average would be third among Hall of Fame catchers, trailing Bill Dickey (.313) and Mickey Cochrane (.320).

Piazza drove in 1,335 runs. Only two current Hall of Fame catchers posted a higher number: Yogi Berra (1,430) and Bench (1,376).

His 2,127 hits trail only Berra (2,150) and Carlton Fisk (2,356) among Hall of Fame catchers.

For those voters who like awards and honors, Piazza was a 12-time All-Star, won 10 Silver Sluggers, finished in the top 14 of MVP voting nine times and won the 1993 National League Rookie of the Year after hitting .318 with 35 home runs.

He was one of the most recognizable names of his era and had plenty of signature moments, from his battles with Roger Clemens to his dramatic home run in the Mets' first game in New York after 9/11.


Just because he played the position doesn't mean Piazza was a great catcher.

Runners had no fear when he was behind the plate, and, if elected, Piazza would have the lowest caught-stealing percentage of any Hall of Famer at 23 percent. He never posted a percentage above 35 percent during any season. Fisk is currently the worst enshrined catcher with 34 percent. Gary Carter is next at 35 percent, but he led the league three times. Every other catcher nailed at least 39 percent of runners attempting a steal against.

Piazza also led the league in passed balls twice and allowed 102 for his career. He never won a Gold Glove.

Speaking of awards, while Piazza was often in the MVP conversation, he never actually won the award.

He also never led the league in any major category, posting good numbers that always were bested by others.

He never won a World Series, never reached a "magic number" such as 3,000 hits or 500 home runs.

Piazza played during the heart of the steroids era, and while he was never linked to PEDs as Barry Bonds or Clemens were, there were always whispers. Nothing ever was proven, though, even tangientially.

Voters have shown no mercy toward those suspected of using steroids so far -- will they keep Piazza out to avoid the sheer possibility of enshrining someone who may have used performance-enhancing drugs, despite zero evidence?


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