Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Mike Piazza Retires

Mike Piazza retired today after 16 seasons in the bigs. He last played with the A's last year, an injury-hampered season in which he contributed only 8 HRs and 44 RBIs.

It's not too soon to assess his career to see where he stands among the greatest catchers of all time. Baseball-Reference.com has a cool, subscription-only feature that lets me compare Piazza to all other catchers in a variety of categories.

Home Runs
1. Piazza: 427 (396 as catcher)
2. Johnny Bench: 389 (326 as catcher)
3. Carlton Fisk: 376 (351 as catcher)

1. Yogi Berra: 1,430
2. Ted Simmons: 1,389
3. Johnny Bench: 1,376
4. Mike Piazza: 1,335

Batting Average (min: 1,000 GP)
1. Mickey Cochrane: .320
2. Bill Dickey: .313
3. Mike Piazza: .308

On-base Percentage (min: 1,000 GP)
1. Mickey Cochrane: .419
2. Wally Schang: .393
3. Gene Tenace: .388
8. Mike Piazza: .377

Slugging Percentage (min: 1,000 GP)
1. MIke Piazza: .545
2. Roy Campanella: .500
3. Javy Lopez: .491

OPS+ (On-base + Slugging adjusted for all baseball eras; click here for explanation)
1. Mike Piazza: 142
2. Gene Tenace: 136
3. Mickey Cochrane: 128


Piazza is generally regarded as having one of the worst throwing arms in modern baseball history. Lucky for him, he played during an era in which stolen bases weren't very important to a team's offense, so it didn't matter so much. And anyway, his hitting more than made up for his defensive deficiencies.

Bottom Line
Piazza was never tainted by steroid allegations, so in five years, when he becomes eligible for the Hall of Fame, he will go in on the first ballot.

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