With the dust settled from this year’s Hall of Fame voting, the attention turns to a loaded 2013 ballot.
Prominent names such as Barry Bonds, Sammy Sosa, Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio will be on the ballot for the first time, but so will one close to all of our hearts here at MMO: Mike Piazza.
Naturally, Mets fans have an enduring love for Piazza. He revolutionized this franchise in the late 1990s-early 2000s, and his legacy will forever live on in Mets lore.
However, how do the writers who hold a Hall of Fame vote view Piazza in terms of a first-ballot selection?
I recently saw an article on MLB.com in which writers who hold a vote shared their initial thoughts on whom they would vote for next year. Surprisingly, Piazza’s name only appeared on a handful of ballots.
We as Mets fans have seen Piazza up close. His clutch hits, record-setting home runs and inspirational moments will always be in our memories. But there seems to be a consensus out there that Piazza is not a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
He is sure to earn a spot in Cooperstown at some point, but he is deserving of the honor of being a first-ballot Hall of Famer.
I bring this up because a player with similar statistics and accomplishments to Piazza—Jeff Bagwell—has not been voted in on his first two attempts. Both were major offensive forces during parts of the past two decades.
However, there’s a major difference between Bagwell and Piazza: Piazza was a catcher. Catchers take a beating on a daily basis. Piazza missed his share of time throughout his career with stints on the disabled list and even scheduled off days. Just imagine the stats he could have accumulated had he been a first baseman like Bagwell.
What’s more though about Piazza was that he carried the Mets on his back for two deep playoff runs. Of course, the Mets had a good supporting cast featuring Edgardo Alfonzo, Robin Ventura, Al Leiter, etc. But it was Piazza’s team through and through.
So to answer the title question: Yes, Mike Piazza—arguably the greatest offensive catcher in the history of baseball—is a first-ballot Hall of Famer in my opinion. But frankly, my opinion doesn’t count. It will come down to whether the writers think he’s worthy.
Because he’s a catcher, Piazza holds an advantage over Bagwell. But don’t be too upset next year if Piazza is forced to wait for the Cooperstown call.
Tom Seaver needs some Mets company in the Hall of Fame, so hopefully Piazza gets the call next year.
Then again, there’s even a chance Piazza will be wearing a Dodgers cap on his plaque, which is the subject of a completely different post.