After the debacle that was yesterday’s Baseball Hall of Fame voting, much of the attention has surrounded the exclusion of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens from Cooperstown’s enshrined. Bonds, considered one of the best hitters in the history of the sport, and Clemens, often referred to as the best pitcher of his generation, received only 36.2% and 37.6% of the vote, respectively. With Hall of Fame induction requiring 75% of the vote, it seems that a trip to Cooperstown for these two is far from imminent. Lost in all of this was the fact that possibly the greatest offensive catcher in baseball history, Mike Piazza, was one of the many candidates not receiving 75% of the vote. Piazza’s spectacular career numbers suggest that he was an obvious choice for Cooperstown, especially when compared to MLB catchers already in the Hall of Fame.
*According to Fangraphs.com
The one persistent criticism of Piazza has been his defense. Some say that while his bat has helped his teams significantly, a large part of his value is negated by his struggles in the field. While a very popular narrative, the numbers do not bear this out. Piazza was no Johnny Bench behind home plate, but over the course of his career his TZ (Total Zone) rating of -61 suggests that he cost his teams only 61 runs at catcher. Considering his ability to hit, for example his 427 career home runs, it’s clear that his poor defense should not be a barrier to his Hall of Fame candidacy.