Hall-of-Famers as Seen Through Player Won-Lost Records: Mike Piazza
Mike Piazza was elected to the Hall of Fame in his fourth year of eligibility, 2016, with 83.0% of the vote.
Five highlights of Mike Piazza's career:
The first two tables below present Mike Piazza's career as measured by Player won-lost records, in and out of context.
- Mike Piazza was drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers as a personal favor to then-manager Tommy Lasorda, in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft, the 1,390th player taken overall. Piazza was the last player drafted in the 1988 draft who played even a single game in the major leagues. Piazza is the latest draft pick ever to be elected to the Hall of Fame, a distinction which is likely to last for the foreseeable future, as the MLB draft was shortened to 50 rounds in 1998 and further shortened to 40 rounds in 2012.
- Mike Piazza was voted National League Rookie of the Year in 1993. He was named to twelve All-Star teams in his career and received MVP votes nine times, finishing in the top 10 in MVP voting seven times, including back-to-back second-place finishes in 1996 and 1997.
- Piazza was voted MVP of the 1996 All-Star game. He started the game at catcher for the National League (one of 10 All-Star starts in his career) and went 2-for-3 with a home run and 2 RBI and caught seven shutout innings as the National League won the game, 6-0.
- Mike Piazza hit 427 home runs in his career, 396 while playing catcher. The latter number is a major-league record for home runs by a catcher.
- Mike Piazza had an OPS greater than 1.000 three times in his career. He is the only catcher to do so more than once.
Mike Piazza is considered by many to be the best hitting catcher in major-league history. Player won-lost records agrees.
The next table shows the top 10 players in offensive wins over positional average as a catcher since 1961 (the first year of major-league expansion and the 162-game season).
But Player won-lost records go one step farther. Mike Piazza was not merely the best hitting catcher since expansion, he was arguably the best catcher, period, over this time period.
The next table shows the top 10 players in wins over positional average as a catcher since 1961.
Mike Piazza's record as a catcher is virtually identical to that of two-time NL MVP and 10-time Gold Glove winner Johnny Bench. The choice of which one was better comes down to one's choice of positional average.
Mike Piazza had a well-deserved reputation for being extremely poor at controlling an opponent's running game (what I call Component 1). And, with the possible exception of game calling and pitch framing, which Player won-lost records make no attempt to measure, Component 1 is by far the most important component of catcher defense.
But, outside of Component 1, Mike Piazza was actually quite good at the other aspects of catcher defense which I measure: preventing wild pitches and passed balls (Component 2), fielding balls in play (Component 5), and preventing baserunner advancements on balls in play (Components 8 and 9).
The next table shows the top 25 players in fielding wins over positional average as a catcher, excluding Component 1, since 1961. As I said above, these records do not include any evaluation of a catcher's game calling ability or his ability to frame pitches. But recent research on these topics by other researchers suggest that Mike Piazza was well above average in these aspects of catcher defense as well.
Expanding beyond catchers, Mike Piazza's offensive contributions at a key defensive position lead, as one would expect, to his ranking very highly among all major-league baseball players. The final table below shows the top 30 non-pitchers (since 1961) in pWins over positional average.
Mike Piazza: easy Hall-of-Famer.
Article last updated: October 9, 2019
All articles are written so that they pull data directly from the most recent version of the Player won-lost database. Hence, any numbers cited within these articles should automatically incorporate the most recent update to Player won-lost records. In some cases, however, the accompanying text may have been written based on previous versions of Player won-lost records. I apologize if this results in non-sensical text in any cases.
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