The candidates for this year’s Hall of Fame ballot have been announced. It is one of the deepest Cooperstown ballots in Major League history that include Roger Clemens, Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Craig Biggio, Curt Schilling, and many more, including Dodgers manager, Don Mattingly. Also on that list is a player that had an excellent tenure wearing the Dodger blue, Mike Piazza.
Piazza came into the Major Leagues as the 62nd round pick of the Dodgers in the 1988 Draft. He was only drafted by the Dodgers because then-manager Tommy Lasorda was a family friend of Piazza.
Little did anybody know however, that Piazza would become of the most famous Dodgers of all-time.
After four years in the Minor Leagues, Piazza was able to work his way into the Dodger lineup in 1993 and surprised everyone with the talent he showed, winning the NL Rookie of the Year after hitting .318, with 35 home runs, and 112 RBIs.
He later went on to hit more than 30 home runs in four of his first five seasons in the Bigs.
In 1996 and 1997 he enjoyed his best seasons.
In the ’96 campaign, Piazza had a batting average of .336, combining 36 homers with 105 RBIs. With those incredible stats, he was only able to finish second in MVP voting.
Then came the ’97 season. A lot of people didn’t think that Piazza could top his numbers from the previous season, but did he ever. This time around, he ended up hitting .362, 40 dingers, and 124 RBIs.
However, he ended up finishing second again in MVP voting.
A lot of baseball fans thought that he should have been awarded the MVP award with those numbers, and all while playing the most important defensive position at catcher.
After being traded to the Florida Marlins in 1998, and then a week later, to the New York Mets, he had a great and memorable career with the Metropolitans.
Even with all his success with the Dodgers, maybe the highest point of his career was when he lifted the spirits of New York after the September 11 attacks. In the first game back from that tragic day, the Mets were behind a run against the Atlanta Braves in the 8th inning. With a man on base, Piazza was up to bat and wouldn’t you know, he hit the go-ahead 2-run home run.
That homer lifted an entire city, and became one of the greatest moments in Major League history.
All the stellar numbers and great memories he contributed to for the Dodgers and Mets sure does make him a shoe-in for the Hall of Fame.
Other accolades of Piazza include:
- 427 career homeruns, the most ever by a catcher
- a career .308 batting average
- 12-time All-Star (10 consecutive selections)
- 1996 All-Star Game MVP
- 10 consecutive Silver Slugger awards
There is no doubt that Mike Piazza is one of the greatest offensive catchers to ever play the game. With that, there should be no doubt that he deserves to have his name enshrined forever, along with baseball’s best in Cooperstown.