Vaccaro: Mike Piazza belongs in the Hall of Fame

Mike Piazza black polaroidIn his column for the New York Post, Mike Vaccaro believes Mike Piazza belongs in the Hall of Fame.

“I voted for Piazza,” Vaccaro explains. “I voted for him because he was the best offensive catcher I ever saw, because he assembled one of the greatest — if not the greatest — offensive resume of any catcher ever born. And though he has long been caught in the vortex of whispers and rumors about PED use, there has yet to be a credible complaint lodged against him.”

Piazza hit 396 home runs as a catcher, the most in Major League history. He hit 427 home runs in his 16-year Major League career.

Piazza also has the highest slugging percentage, tenth best batting average, 13th best on-base percentage, and fourth most RBI among catchers in Major League history. He was a 12-time All-Star, won the Rookie of the Year Award in 1993, won ten Silver Sluggers and finished in the top 10 of MVP voting in seven seasons.

The 2013 inductees to the National Baseball Hall of Fame will be announced on January 9.

Michael Baron, Contributor

The Hall of Fame has become so controversial in recent years, and the negativity around it is unfair to everyone from the fans, to those that are in, and to those that deserve to be in. An argument can also be made that fringe players have been inducted who don’t belong, and that has softened the meaning of election. I wonder if advanced metrics are diminishing the other important aspects of what a Hall of Famer is. Advanced metrics should certainly play a role in the evaluation – especially as the game and the measurement of players have evolved – but there is no metric to define what a player meant to the history of the game, and that can easily be forgotten when using stats as the sole measurement for a vote (which many of the voters have done). In the case of the Hall of Fame – which is a sacred place filled with baseball history in a historical town – that stamp on the game’s history should have an equal footing in the discussion. In the past, I believe it did, the stats (including advanced metrics) supported the decision, and a player’s election had more meaning and exclusivity.

As far as PEDs are concerned, it’s disappointing to listen to and read the accounts from the writers (who are the voters) talk about whether Piazza used. I also did not like that they discussed their ballots before they were due. I don’t believe writers need to be influenced before their ballots are due; this is their industry, they have known these people while they covered them, and they should be able to draw their own conclusions privately. When it comes to the issue of PED’s, suspicion and belief shouldn’t be enough to impact a decision to vote for a player or not, In Piazza’s case, that’s all it is: suspicion. He was never named in an investigation, and never was seen with any materials to conclude he was using. It seems to have become a “guilty until proven innocent” situation for him and others, and that’s not fair for any player.

I really hope Piazza gets in on Wednesday. He deserves to be in Cooperstown. If he is elected, I plan on being there for the ceremony at the end of July…