It’s the Hall of Fame. Anyone who is in the Hall should be synonymous with the term “baseball legend”. They should invoke memories. You should be able to picture a typical at bat for them or a specific highlight play should come to mind. The Hall of Fame is around to showcase the players who made the game great.
All of the above would be a perfect description of Ken Griffey Jr. Even with all the injuries, he was as good a player as there ever was.
The same can’t be said for Mike Piazza.
Piazza has a nice story. He was drafted as a favor to his dad and ended up being the all time home run leader for catchers. He was a great offensive player for his time. Not all time.
But Piazza isn’t inspiring. Kids didn’t grow up saying I want to be Mike Piazza. They wanted to be Derek Jeter, Albert Pujols, the same Ken Griffey Jr, Randy Johnson, or even Barry Bonds. Rarely did anyone want to be Mike Piazza.
Not to say Piazza was bad, because he was far from that. He certainly has some impressive credentials, such as the 9 straight All Star appearances. But he wasn’t a Hall of Fame player.
First of all, Piazza’s defense was borderline atrocious. He had a pop gun for an arm and failed to inspire fear in potential base stealers. If he played in the American League he would have been a career DH. That limits him as a candidate and really makes him a one trick pony.
I’ll concede that there are often players who were poor defenders who have made the Hall of Fame. After all, Babe Ruth wasn’t the most agile player of all time, nor was Reggie Jackson in the latter half of his career. But all of those players put up staggering offensive totals.
Piazza didn’t sniff 3,000 hits or really come close to 500 home runs. He finished 873 hits short of 3k and 73 home runs short of 500. He failed to meet the milestones by which we typically judge Hall of Fame players.
Furthermore, Piazza didn’t lead a winning team. The Mets were mostly average during his tenure. They made it to one World Series, in 2000, and got crushed by the Yankees. If you’re looking for your signature Hall of Fame moment for Piazza, try getting half of his bat chucked at him by Roger Clemens. Doesn’t exactly bring to mind a yearning for bygone days.
Sure, Piazza was good. But it was awfully suspicious how fast he slimmed down post retirement. The PED rumors are strong enough to not warrant his election. If you want to elect someone to the Hall of Fame who has been linked to steroids but never actually caught, might as well elect Barry Bonds.
Piazza is a good guy and he was a great baseball player. But he wasn’t an immortal, a demigod. Those are the lofty requirements to gain access to baseball’s most hallowed hall. Piazza’s impact on the game was minimal in the grand scheme of things. Would he even make the list of Top 10 catchers of All Time? I would take Buster Posey or Yadier Molina, two active players in their primes, one entering and one exiting, over Mike Piazza because they are more complete players.
If Curt Schilling can’t get elected-a man who has the numbers, was baseball’s best right handed pitcher for 5 years in the mid 2000’s, and has one of the most iconic moments in baseball history on his resume-how can Piazza?
For the Hall of Fame to hold on to its revered status, it must continue to admit only those that could stand up to any player throughout history. Players like Craig Biggio and Piazza aren’t quite there. At least Biggio had 3,000 hits. I would take Randy Johnson against Babe Ruth. I would take Ken Griffey Jr. against Sandy Koufax. They could hold their own. I don’t get that feeling about Piazza.