FanDuel - WFBC

May 20, 2008

Mike Piazza decides to retire after 16 seasons : Piazza; hanging up the cleats, binning the bats, mothballing the mitt.

posted by irunfromclones to baseball at 03:43 PM - 50 comments

I suppose he'll be wearing a Mets cap on his HoF plaque, which seems about right. It's the Mets with whom I tend to associate him, although that probably has as much to do with Roger Clemens as with anything else.

posted by holden at 06:27 PM on May 20

Not totally unexpected. The 'stache retired quite some time ago.

posted by THX-1138 at 07:14 PM on May 20

I know he has great stats but I don't associate his career with a HOF one.

posted by jc at 09:19 PM on May 20

Other than being the best-hitting catcher of all-time, what has he really done?

posted by yerfatma at 09:49 PM on May 20

jc: I know he has great stats but I don't associate his career with a HOF one.
Really?!? Sure, I wouldn't argue he's a unanimous first-ballot player the way a Clemens, Maddux, or Bonds should be, but in his prime he was the definition of a "future hall of fame catcher". According to baseball-reference, he's fairly solidly into the HoF levels for the HoF Monitor and HoF standards tests. Against Piazza is that his black and gray ink tests are weak- he's never really lead the league in any stat, although he had a 6-8 year stretch of being a consistent Top-10 hitter. He's never been an MVP and he's been basically a non-factor from 2003-2007. That said... he's a 12-time All-Star, lifetime .308 hitter with 427 homeruns (of which 396 came as catcher, easily tops among all catchers, lifetime). His stats as a hitter are as good as Bench, Campanella, Berra, et al, and he was at least a half-decent catcher. I'd say Piazza will probably get in with about the same HoF percentage as Fisk. on preview: What yerfatma said: other than being the best-hitting catcher of all time... that's not good enough to be in the HoF?

posted by hincandenza at 10:02 PM on May 20

Yeah okay, I just checked out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mike_Piazza and my bias was wrong. His stats are HOF material.

posted by jc at 10:02 PM on May 20

Six seasons with OPS+ over 150. .308 BA Nine seasons + 300 BA Eleven seasons +500 slugging Twelve All Star selections (tied for third in catchers, I believe) Despite indelicate reputation as defensive catcher, .989 fielding percentage. What, exactly, would you have him do JC?

posted by bobfoot at 10:10 PM on May 20

Incidentally, between people like Piazza, as well as Maddux, Frank Thomas, Randy Johnson and Pedro Martinez, and the distinct possibility of Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens (both of whom should be 100% inductees, but because of the jaded, petty, and jealous press corps and their voting history, some dickless wonders will leave at least one of them off their ballots), the ballot of 2012/2013 is going to be crowded with what should be first-ballot, no-question inductees. Hell, some deserving people might not make it simply because of who else retires. Since we can likely call 2007 Sosa's last year, he'll probably be in that crew, and may be the only 600HR hitter who doesn't get voted in on the first ballot. That's almost understandable; I'd vote for him, but with the PED stigma, as well as being a one-dimensional player who's stats outside of the HR are fairly weak, which was the same argument used against McGwire in a "protest vote". Given the crop with whom he'll be on the ballot, Sosa may not make it in his first ballot either.

posted by hincandenza at 10:20 PM on May 20

I just did a quick look at Piazza vs three other Hall of Fame catchers: Gary Carter, Johnny Bench and Yogi Berra Piazza Bench Carter Berra Games 1912 2158 2296 2120 Hits 2127 2048 2092 2150 HR 427 389 324 358 RBI 1335 1376 1225 1430 Avg 308 267 262 285 OBP 377 342 335 348 OPS+ 142 126 115 125 TB 3768 3644 3497 3643 FP 0.989 0.987 0.991 0.988 I didn't think I was going to say this at the beginning, but I would be hard-pressed to not pick Piazza as my best all time catcher. Or at least over these (ahem) journeymen.

posted by bobfoot at 10:42 PM on May 20

That looked prettier in preview - don't know how to make it so, but I think you can work it out

posted by bobfoot at 10:43 PM on May 20

Oops - y'all are too fast -

posted by bobfoot at 10:45 PM on May 20

Stats schmatts. It's the mustache that gets him in. HoF stands for Hall of Fu Manchu. OK, so that would be HoFM, but are ya' feelin' me? I mean, really, cause I can't feel a thing.

posted by THX-1138 at 10:58 PM on May 20

Pedro Martinez HOF?

posted by whodat at 01:57 AM on May 21

Well, I don't think Pedro needs his own Hall, but if he doesn't get into the one in Cooperstown, it will be because the place burned down. The Cooperstown Case of Mike Piazza from Baseball Prospectus.

posted by yerfatma at 07:13 AM on May 21

Pedro Martinez HOF? I thought this post was about Piazza? Can we at least wait until Pedro retires before we discuss his HOF credentials? On that note, he's HOF bound, no question. Piazza was my favorite player as soon as he come over to the Mets from the his marvelous season with the Marlins (I couldn't let that slide) and his sideburns/mustache combo was by-far, one of the best in baseball. I could never forget that infamous bat throwing incident involving him and some guy named Roger Clemens(?) in the Subway Series versus the Yankees but I'm not sure if anybody has ever heard of that Clemens guy though. I can still recall when he got hit on the head from a Clemens fastball and how I just wanted to jump into the television and strangle the Rocket for doing that to Piazza. Piazza might not have had the accurate arm that most catchers should have in order to gun down a base stealer but when he was up to bat, everyone loved to sit back and watch the greatest hitting catcher in baseball history. People want to question if Piazza is HOF bound while I retort with: How could he not be included in the HOF? It'll be a travesty.

posted by BornIcon at 07:36 AM on May 21

I suppose he'll be wearing a Mets cap on his HoF plaque, which seems about right. It's the Mets with whom I tend to associate him, although that probably has as much to do with Roger Clemens as with anything else. Why do you say he would go in as a Met? I certainly associate him more with the Dodgers, as the Mets were the second half or so of his career. He came up with the Dodgers and became a stud there, by the time he got to NY, he was already a veteran. I suppose he did spend roughly an equal amount of time in either organization's MLB team, but seeing as Lasorda essentially drafted the guy in the bazillionth round as a favor to Piazza's dad, I think he kinda owes his career to the Dodgers. And yeah, even though the guy could not throw the ball from home plate to second base except on one hop, the guy was clearly a HOF hitter for his position. When as a catcher you stats are better than Berra, Fisk and Bench, its a done deal.

posted by Chargdres at 08:42 AM on May 21

If he goes in, I certainly see it being as a Dodger, mostly for the reasons Chargdres mentions. That's the team I've seen him play with the most, but that's also because I'm a Padre fan.

posted by LionIndex at 09:21 AM on May 21

I'd vote for [Sosa], but with the PED stigma You know whose name did not appear in the Mitchell Report? Sammy Sosa. You know whose name has never appeared on any legal investigations into steroid/HGH distributions? Sammy Sosa. You know who has never failed a single drug test? Sammy Sosa.

posted by grum@work at 09:44 AM on May 21

IMO, being a Mets fan, I would love for him to go into the HOF as a Met but seeing as he did come up as a Dodger, he'll most likely go in as a Dodger. Regardless, I don't see anything wrong with that since he did spend a lot of time with both teams and made a huge impact with both. I'll always think of Piazza as a New York Met though.

posted by BornIcon at 09:46 AM on May 21

Why do you say he would go in as a Met? I certainly associate him more with the Dodgers, as the Mets were the second half or so of his career. He came up with the Dodgers and became a stud there, by the time he got to NY, he was already a veteran. I suppose he did spend roughly an equal amount of time in either organization's MLB team, but seeing as Lasorda essentially drafted the guy in the bazillionth round as a favor to Piazza's dad, I think he kinda owes his career to the Dodgers. I don't disagree that he put up some of his best years as a Dodger (that was certainly the most productive phase of his career) and that he came up through their system and entered the league with them. My thinking was primarily from a longevity perspective (he played more years with the Mets) and because he played in the World Series with the Mets. This may be non-West Coast bias (I would call it East Coast bias, but I live in the Midwest) based on the fact that I personally saw a lot more of his games as a Met. Either way, it's ultimately up for the Hall to decide.

posted by holden at 10:11 AM on May 21

Sosa was offered by a SI writer to take a drug test in a very public way in chicago while he was with the cubs. He refused. Steroids/ HGH were found in his car. His best friend on the team, a utility IF took the blame. He is a guy who never lifted weights during his career. Look at the way his body changed from when he was a member of the white soxs to the cubs. In the senate hearings he claimed he didn't understand the questions because of his inability to understand english. That ruined any credibility he had left. In chicago there isn't any doubt that sammy sosa took steroids.

posted by whodat at 10:13 AM on May 21

Why are people hijacking this thread discussing Sammy Sosa? Is it so difficult to either discuss that on a later date or to do that when that topic is brought up...on a thread about Sosa?

posted by BornIcon at 10:24 AM on May 21

You still need to lift weights even if you are on steroids. If you don't work out you just get fat.

posted by Steel_Town at 10:29 AM on May 21

Sammy Sosa never had the mustache that Piazza did. I always envision Piazza with the Dodgers. West coast bias.

posted by THX-1138 at 11:00 AM on May 21

My thinking was primarily from a longevity perspective (he played more years with the Mets) and because he played in the World Series with the Mets. I'm a very biased Met fan so I'd certainly agree. And if you read Piazza's statement, it seems clear he would want to go into the HoF as a Met. From the article: "But I have to say that my time with the Mets wouldn't have been the same without the greatest fans in the world. One of the hardest moments of my career, was walking off the field at Shea Stadium and saying goodbye. My relationship with you made my time in New York the happiest of my career and for that, I will always be grateful." Add to that the way the Fox Dodgers threw him under the bus for being "greedy" and the way Dodger fans booed him before and after the trade, I would think it be very unlikely that he retire as a dodger. According to the L.A. Times, Karma is a bitch. In a story today, the Times describes the Piazza trade as the beginning of the end for the "Dodger Way."

posted by cjets at 11:04 AM on May 21

I would love for Piazza to wear a Dodger cap into the HOF. But its pretty unlikely. I don't have the heart to go into why, but these threads over at Dodger Thoughts cover most of the reasons pretty well.

posted by lilnemo at 01:13 PM on May 21

I too always envision Piazza in a Dodgers cap, but that may just be me remembering his "I'm stealing home, and somewhere in Philadelphia my grandmother faints" commercial.

posted by trox at 01:24 PM on May 21

He's not going in as a Marlin? I'm shocked.

posted by grum@work at 01:59 PM on May 21

How bizarre. I just wrote about Piazza in context of the Belle and Sebastian song "Piazza New York Catcher." I always liked the guy and hope he finds himself in the HoF sooner rather than later.

posted by Joey Michaels at 06:43 PM on May 21

Here's a slightly different remembrance of Piazza wherein the author castigates him for not being Jesus, not curing cancer and not fixing that thing over there in the Middle East.

posted by yerfatma at 12:49 PM on May 22

In reference to Paul Lucas' column: My guess for point #2 he made was "Ike Triazza". He lives in Queens. And he is heterosexual as well. And cleanshaven. I have no idea what he thinks of Sammy Sosa.

posted by THX-1138 at 02:18 PM on May 22

Here's a slightly different remembrance of Piazza wherein the author castigates him for not being Jesus, not curing cancer and not fixing that thing over there in the Middle East. You mean the article that takes him to task for acting like a douchebag when it was gently suggested he move to first base because he caught like old people fuck? Piazza was a great hitter and apparently called a decent game, but he threw out runners at the rate I pass up buffets and sucked at blocking balls in the dirt. He was the first in the new breed of "Well, he stinks defensively, but look at the production we get from him at the plate -- make him a catcher!", and lumping him in with guys like Bench and Fisk is an affront to their skills.

posted by wfrazerjr at 03:38 PM on May 22

He was the first in the new breed of "Well, he stinks defensively, but look at the production we get from him at the plate -- make him a catcher!" Right, because up until 1990, all catchers were fantastic defensively. Joe Torre, Yogi Berra, etc.

posted by yerfatma at 04:27 PM on May 22

Com'on now people, the next thing your gonna say is that Alex Rodriguez is just a so-so player because he couldn't perform well under pressure. Not all athletes are perfect, they do have their flaws, even in part of their games. Sometimes a player comes up huge and sometimes they don't. Sometimes they win, sometimes they lose. That's why they play the game. Piazza may not have been the most athletic, the most coordinated or even the most talented player on the field but he is regarded as the greatest hitting catcher for a reason and he did have a great career, which no one can take away from him.

posted by BornIcon at 07:46 AM on May 23

but he is regarded as the greatest hitting catcher for a reason Hitting isn't everything.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 08:56 AM on May 23

Hitting isn't everything. But it is the only thing that really matters when we're talking about Mike Piazza since he didn't pitch and he wasn't all that great defensively.

posted by BornIcon at 09:18 AM on May 23

Hitting isn't everything, but in baseball it seems to be somewhere between 60-80% of everything. At any position you care to name, only the very best one or two defensive players of all-time make it on glove alone, at least in the last 40 years or so.

posted by yerfatma at 10:48 AM on May 23

From the Paul Lukas article (Thanks fatty): When the New York Post implied that Piazza was gay, he held that little press conference where he declared his heterosexuality. OK, fine. But he missed a huge opportunity to say, "But what if it was true? What if I was gay? So what? What if one of my teammates is gay? What if one of YOU is gay? It's no big deal. Listen, I'm straight, but this whole thing is really a nonissue." In a city with a huge gay population, that was an opportunity to show some real community leadership, and he totally spit the bit. Really? Really?!? Lukas is criticizing him for something that (to my knowledge) no MLB player has EVER done? I'm not saying it wouldn't have been, in theory, a good thing for him to do, but he's a baseball player, not a social activist.

posted by cjets at 11:45 AM on May 23

So help me out. I'm trying to keep track. Do we hate Mike Piazza or like him? Even I, in my limited understanding of all things, can acknowledge that Mike Piazza is a HoF catcher based on his offensive stats alone. And one would have to consult the grum oracle, but I don't recall his defensive shortcomings losing a lot of games or being a great detriment to his team. And Ike Triazza never had to answer any questions about his lifestyle choices, that's for sure.

posted by THX-1138 at 11:59 AM on May 23

At any position you care to name, only the very best one or two defensive players of all-time make it on glove alone, at least in the last 40 years or so. Agreed. Ozzie Smith (though, he had a decent bat for his position) and Bill Mazeroski (Veteran's Committee selection, plus a singularly famous home run) are two players that I can think off of the top of my head that made it into the HOF for just their defensive reputation. Brooks Robinson had a peak where he was a fairly good batter, but his defensive rep is what pretty much carried him into the hall. In the past, catchers, shortstops and second basemen were regarded more for their defensive abilities than their hitting. That's changed a lot since the advent of the power-position being anywhere on the field. And one would have to consult the grum oracle, but I don't recall his defensive shortcomings losing a lot of games or being a great detriment to his team. Ha. I have read that his throwing arm was historically bad, but that his ability to block the plate (from incoming runners or errant pitches) was above average. This is a prime example of below average fielding being overcome by HOF batting and everyone just accepting it. Of course, since catcher is the most demanding and least replaceable position on the field, there is a lot more leeway with how bad you can be before they move you to another position.

posted by grum@work at 02:04 PM on May 23

But it is the only thing that really matters when we're talking about Mike Piazza since he didn't pitch and he wasn't all that great defensively So when discussing Mike Piazza one can only discuss his strengths but not his flaws? Seems like a flawed way to evaluate overall talent, impact, and greatness to me.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 04:26 PM on May 23

From yerfatma's link: A few days after Roger Clemens beaned him in 2000, Piazza said that the incident had made him reassess the DH. "I thought the DH could be a good thing for me later in my career," he said, "but now I see that it's bad for baseball, because the pitcher can throw at the batter with no fear of retaliation." So what did he do after leaving the Mets? He shopped himself to American League teams with hopes of becoming a DH. None of them were interested, so he signed with the Padres, but then he went to the A's, where he happily DH'd. Hypocrite. It made him "reassess" the DH. Then he eventually went to the AL, which has the DH, and that's reason enough to call him a hypocrite? Dude just hates Piazza.

posted by justgary at 04:30 PM on May 23

It made him "reassess" the DH... I think he reassessed his bank account first.

posted by BoKnows at 08:08 PM on May 23

Firejoemorgan breaks down the Lukas article.

posted by justgary at 10:16 PM on May 23

That's great, justgary. Thanks. Piazza: The A-Rod of catching, hitting-wise.

posted by BoKnows at 10:41 PM on May 23

I had no idea people took Page 2 articles this seriously.

posted by goddam at 11:47 PM on May 23

So when discussing Mike Piazza one can only discuss his strengths but not his flaws? Seems like a flawed way to evaluate overall talent, impact, and greatness to me. Not at all. People can discuss his lack of defensive skills all they want but the bottom line is, Mike Piazza will be going into the HOF for being the greatest hitting catcher in MLB history. No where did I say, "Please people, let's not talk about his flaws." That would be ridiculous on my part if ever I did that. I had no idea people took Page 2 articles this seriously. Are you kiddin' me? We take the circulars in the sunday paper seriously around these parts.

posted by BornIcon at 08:15 AM on May 24

Mike Piazza did indeed have defensive shortcomings. This is demonstrated by statistics of the percentage of base runners he caught stealing. What is indisputable is that he had a long and successful career in the major leagues. The conclusion I draw from this is that his hitting was good enough to keep him in the major leagues (again, amply demonstrated by his lifetime numbers), and that his defense was not so terrible as to keep him from staying in the major leagues. One other thing that I do not see discussed above is his ability to handle pitchers. I did not follow his career closely enough to have any knowledge of that. I am sure of one thing, and that is that you do not throw some guy behind the plate just because he can hit, but is lousy defensively. First base is the position for that. Catching is far too vital a job. Arm strength is close to the bottom of the list of skills required of a catcher. I would be interested to see an analysis of the percentage of runners who steal a base and who score solely as a result of having stolen that base. (That is, a runner who steals second and then scores on a 2-out single, or a runner who steals, gets to 3rd with less than 2 out, and scores on a sacrifice fly, to give 2 examples.) My instincts tell me that it is not a high figure.

posted by Howard_T at 01:39 PM on May 24

I am sure of one thing, and that is that you do not throw some guy behind the plate just because he can hit, but is lousy defensively. See Lecroy, Matt: "Though battling bone spurs in his throwing knee, LeCroy was asked to fill in during a May 25, 2006, game against the Houston Astros at a time when Washington's starting catchers, Wiki Gonzalez and Brian Schneider, were out with injuries. He was replaced with Robert Fick in the middle of the seventh inning after the Astros stole six bases and LeCroy committed two catching errors." you do not throw some guy behind the plate just because he can hit, but is lousy defensively. First base is the position for that. I don't think you'd want to put a "lousy" guy at 1B, you want to put him at DH.

posted by grum@work at 05:14 PM on May 24

I don't think you'd want to put a "lousy" guy at 1B, you want to put him at DH. But Piazza spent most of his career in the NL. DH is not an option.

posted by Howard_T at 08:56 PM on May 24

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