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One of the greatest-hitting catchers in the history of the Great Game, Mike Piazza, has decided to hang' em up after 16 years.

Questions for you:

  • Where does Piazza rank on the list of All-Time Greatest Catchers? (Remember, that includes defense!)
  • Is this the right time for him to go?
  • Is there any question that he's a FBHOFer (First-ballot Hall-of-Famer)?
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mathesond - Tuesday, May 20 2008 @ 05:29 PM EDT (#185618) #
Where he ranks on the list of all-time greatest catchers? I'm a sucker for tragedy, so I'll put Campanella and Gibson ahead of him, as well as Bench. Maybe Berra as well. (This was done with no research, but I'm gonna say Piazza was better than Fisk)  Definitely top 10, and possibly top 5

Is it the right time for him to leave? Unless he wants to hang around and try to pick up a ring, yes it is. Would he "tarnish his legacy" with a 15 HR season as a DH? No, but it wouldn't add to it, either, unless it helped a team win in October.

Is he a first-ballot Hall of Famer? Absolutely


ChicagoJaysFan - Tuesday, May 20 2008 @ 05:51 PM EDT (#185619) #
From a "does he deserve first-ballot treatment" I say yes.  But that's because I think the whole first-ballot thing is stupid.

However, for practical purposes as to whether or not he gets first-ballot treatment, I think it depends on whether Piazza comes up against those that will play this year or those retired after last year.  My guess is that it goes by last year, but I don't know the details about HOF eligibility, so I can't say for certain.

Of those who likely played their last game in 2007, I don't think there were too many big names that could compete with Piazza to push him aside from first ballot treatment.  Clemens and Bonds, yeah, but they may get the McGwire treatment, so I see Piazza likely being the only first balloter out of that bunch.

If he goes up against people from this year - then we'll have to wait and see who else is there.  I could see Maddux, Randy Johnson, Thomas, and Griffey all retiring at the end of this year and each of them could make a decent case for first-ballot treatment I think.  The voters aren't likely to give that treatment to 5 players, and I think I'd put Piazza right there with Griffey at the bottom of that list.  That is without looking at baseball-reference or anything, so I could be completely misjudging everyone's respective careers.

I haven't heard anything on the retirement status of those players, but even if they haven't said anything publicly, once a player is close to 40 or older, unforeseen events can sway their mind quite quickly.
Lugnut Fan - Tuesday, May 20 2008 @ 06:26 PM EDT (#185620) #

First ballot HOF?  Absolutely.

The best 60th round draft pick in history and in my opinion one of the top five or ten catchers in history.  I would have to say that Bench is probably my vote for best ever.

Craig B - Tuesday, May 20 2008 @ 06:32 PM EDT (#185621) #
The third-greatest hitter ever to seriously don the tools of ignorance, and the second-best hitter as a full-time catcher.  I would put Gibson and Bench and Berra ahead of him and would note that Campanella was better than him at his absolute best, but that's it.
ChicagoJaysFan - Tuesday, May 20 2008 @ 06:35 PM EDT (#185622) #
It is somewhat fitting that we have a discussion about greatest catchers taking place at the same time as a discussion on the "integrity" of the game.

Greatest catcher ever is likely Josh Gibson.

If he were allowed to baseball on a full-time basis, he may beaten the offensive numbers put up by Piazza.  He certainly was the best hitter ever in the Negro Leagues.
Radster - Tuesday, May 20 2008 @ 06:53 PM EDT (#185624) #
How odd would it be if Clemens and Piazza went in on the same ballot?
gabrielthursday - Tuesday, May 20 2008 @ 07:20 PM EDT (#185626) #
Piazza is #3 behind Josh Gibson and Johnny Bench.  Though not an outstanding defensive catcher, Piazza has always handled pitching staffs exceedingly well.
Dewey - Tuesday, May 20 2008 @ 08:23 PM EDT (#185628) #
In one of the first years of the SkyDome I saw the Dodgers play the Jays there in a pre-season game.  One of those odd mid-Spring-Training games, after which they all went back to Florida.  Late in the game Piazza came to the plate.  I'd never heard of him at that point; but he proceeded to tower one into the left field stands—and I've remembered him ever since.  At the time, he looked almost skinny.
Mike Green - Tuesday, May 20 2008 @ 09:56 PM EDT (#185632) #
The Hall of Merit recently ranked the catchers.  Piazza is in my view clearly ahead of Simmons and Torre. I have him substantially behind Fisk. He's probably about #7 overall. 

He was a great player for the first 5 years of his career.  His peak/prime is right up there, behind Gibson and almost anybody else you can make an argument.

CeeBee - Tuesday, May 20 2008 @ 09:59 PM EDT (#185633) #

Top 10, maybe as high as 6th.

Yes, time to retire.

Probably a first ballot but guessing what the voters will do makes it 50-50

John Northey - Tuesday, May 20 2008 @ 11:07 PM EDT (#185635) #
Wow, people actually rank him lower than #3?  I think many forget just how amazing Piazza was with the bat and that his defense didn't exactly hurt his teams.
  • Offense: 142 lifetime OPS+, was below 100 in just his rookie season and final seasons.  150+ in 6 different seasons
  • Defense... using 99+ games to determine if he was a regular (his first season in NY and SD were 99 game seasons)
    • 5 LA teams - ERA+=110, 95, 104, 112, 107
    • 6 Mets teams - ERA+=111, 104, 107, 103, 102, 109
    • San Diego - ERA+=104
    • That means as the #1 catcher for 12 seasons and 3 different teams he only caught one team with a below average ERA, 1994 the strike year and his second season in the majors.  For comparison I-Rod cracked 100 6 out of 15 seasons plus one time dead on 100.  Detroit is dead last this year.  Thus Piazza the stone glove has just one sub-par staff and I-Rod the glove god has sub-par staffs more often than not.  Could just be dumb luck, but I wonder if Piazza just happened to be good at a lot of stuff other than throwing out runners (he is known to have been one of the best ball-blockers in the past 50 years thanks to retrosheet research by Sean Foreman)
  • I-Rod lifetime OPS+=111
  • Bench lifetime OPS+=126 plus sub-100 ERA+ 6 times out of 13 seasons plus 2 times dead on 100 which surprised me
  • Yogi Berra lifetime OPS+=125, 100+ ERA+ all 10 seasons that he caught 100+ games (the Yankee dynasty)
  • Carlton Fisk lifetime OPS+=117, 100+ ERA+ in 11 out of 13 seasons (including 92 games in the strike year of 81) which surprised me
So, of the greats (we can't do stats for Josh Gibson obviously) Piazza's teams were above average a lot more often than I-Rod or Bench's, a bit less often than Berra's and just a bit more often than Fisk's.  Funny as if someone ranked their defense odds are it would be I-Rod - Bench - Berra - Fisk - Piazza due to stolen base/caught stealing and 'observation'.  I see it as a reminder that our eyes can deceive us and that using just one stat to measure something is asking for trouble - ie: imagine if we used just home runs to measure hitters while ignoring walks (how important could those be).  I'm not saying ERA+ for staffs is ideal but that it sure opens up a big question on Piazza vs the others and puts a question mark beside both Bench and I-Rod's amazing reputations.

I'd rank Piazza #1, Berra #2, Bench #3, Fisk #4, I-Rod #5 with Josh Gibson under 'unknown but likely top 3 and almost certainly top 5.
John Northey - Tuesday, May 20 2008 @ 11:14 PM EDT (#185636) #
Forgot to mix in Gary Carter.  115 OPS+ lifetime, ERA+ of 100 or better in all but 2 of his 12 seasons - his first and his 2nd last (a 99 for the 87 Mets).  Not too shabby but not quite up to the rest of the crowd.  I'd put him in a near tie with I-Rod.
Magpie - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 02:17 AM EDT (#185638) #
Craig, who are the two guys you have as better hitters? Josh Gibson, OK. No argument there. But who else? Not Bench or Campanella or Berra or Cochrane or Carter or Simmons. So who am I missing? The part-time guy? Just drawing a weird blank here...

The guys I've named (with the exception of Simmons) are always in the discussion of the greatest catcher who ever lived - those guys and Ivan Rodriguez. There is no doubt whatsoever in my mind of two things - that Piazza was a significantly greater hitter than any of them, except Gibson. But every one of those guys (even Simmons!) was significantly better than Piazza is what is probably the signature defensive skill of a catcher - throwing out base stealers.

But that particular skill, although it is unique to the position, is nowhere close to being the mark of greatness at the position, not even defensive greatness. No one would suggest that the fact that Bill Mazeroski was the best ever at turning the double play makes him the greatest second baseman ever, notwithstanding how crucial the DP pivot is for a second baseman and how unique it is to the position. A catcher's ability to throw is even less central to his defensive worth.

It's difficult to assess the impact of Piazza's ability to work with pitchers. John discusses this in more detail, but let me just second his point. Piazza was his team's number one catcher in 12 seasons. His team was in the top five at preventing runs in 10 of those 12 seasons - all but his first two, 1993 and 1994. It's true he played his entire career in pitcher's parks, which helps his pitcher's numbers - but it makes his batting achievements look even more remarkable. The Mets had a top five pitching staff when he was behind the plate from 1998 to 2002, but  they ended up 7th and 10th in the two years he wasn't there (out with either injury or trying to play first base). They were 3rd in the league again when he went back behind the plate in 2005. Obviously the pitchers deserve most of the credit, but Piazza should get a few props for that as well.

There's also a peak value vs career value factor here - Bench and Campanella in particular, could hit anywhere from .220 to .320 from one year to the next, with anywhere from 15 to 40 HRs. When they were having a great year with the bat, they were almost as impressive as Piazza at his best. And as they were both astonishing defensive players, at their peak, having one of their good seasons, they were both greater players. But Piazza put together 10 consecutive offensive seasons that ranged from very good to jaw-droppingly great. Only Berra, and maybe Carter, can match that consistency, but at a lower level. I don't quite know how to try to sort these very different achievements.

But some things are simple. Mike Piazza is one the greatest and most remarkable players of all time, never mind just ours. An Inner Sanctum Hall of Famer. They built the place for guys like him.
King Ryan - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 02:39 AM EDT (#185639) #
I think Craig was referring to Jimmie Foxx.
Chuck - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 07:27 AM EDT (#185641) #

Just doing a little hijacking here...

There's a DH in Oakland that seems to be heating up having hit 3 homeruns in the past 2 games.

rpriske - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 08:36 AM EDT (#185642) #

Third or fourth depending on where you see him compared to Berra (Gibson and Bench are 1-2).


I'd say third... (and I think anything that puts him outside of the Top 5 WAY overvalues catcher defense. It is important, but not enough to displace that amazing hitting.)

ChicagoJaysFan - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 10:56 AM EDT (#185645) #
There's a DH in Oakland that seems to be heating up having hit 3 homeruns in the past 2 games.

Gone but not forgotten could be a good spot for ex-Jays.

Thomas isn't the only one heating up - Lilly has been on fire the last month or so, especially recently.  In his last 5 starts, he has 38 k against 8 BB.  He's also managed to lower his ERA from 7.30 to 5.14.

His teammate, Reed Johnson, isn't doing so well and he's now relegated to the bench with the Edmonds signing.

Josh Towers is doing even worse (struggling at AAA), although as always, his ERA looks out of whack with his K:BB ratio.  He even seems to have homers under control, but he just can't stop people from scoring.  His frustration may be bubbling over though as 7 HBPs in 52 innings is a ton.  Think early Pedro Martinez and then some.
John Northey - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 11:05 AM EDT (#185646) #
The HOF class of '13 is going to be scary.  Bonds, Clemens, Biggio, Piazza all on the ballot for the first time unless someone signs Bonds or Clemens this year.  Mix in leftovers and it will be amazing.

Current leftovers: Rice/Dawson/Blyleven/Smith/Morris/John/Raines/McGwire/Trammell (the rest will fall off given time)
2009: Rickey Henderson & Rice get in, Mark Grace/David Cone newbies who stick around
2010: Alomar & Dawson get in, newbies McGriff/Galarraga/Larkin/Edgar Martinez get enough to stick
2011: Bagwell & Blyleven get in, Juan Gonzalez/Olerud/Palmeiro/Santiago/Walker/Brown/John Franco (424 saves) might stick around
2012: Larkin & Raines get in, Bernie Williams sticks - first year class really sucks this year
2013: Biggio & Piazza in, Clemens & Bonds stick around, many others drop from ballot
2014: Maddux, Johnson, Glavine get in, Smoltz/Pedro Martinez also could be on the ballot

Wow, after a weak 2012 class the next two are potential killers.  I'm hoping Larkin and Raines get in by 2012 as after that many qualified candidates will be knocked off the ballot.

Just imagine if Clemens gets a few in for Houston this year and the rest really retire.  We get a 2014 with 2 350 game winners, another 2 300 game winners (maybe), a guy who is the modern version of Koufax, and a guy who was great as a closer and starter and playoff performer.  Mix in Mussina and maybe Hoffman and you get the scariest HOF pitching class imaginable.  Odds are a few won't retire (Smoltz, Maddux, Hoffman most likely to continue with Mussina also likely to keep at it and Johnson if he is just shy of 300) but even if they don't it just gives 2015 a killer class as well.
John Northey - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 11:12 AM EDT (#185648) #
Towers, with his control, has wacked 7 guys in just 52 IP?  Wow.  For comparison Dave 'would bean a teammate if he could' Stieb never hit more than 15 in a season.  Bob 'I'd brushback my mother if she crowded the plate' Gibson never hit more than 13.  Don 'how'd I miss your head' Drysdale's peak was 20.  Pedro 'bean a guy to break up a perfect game' Martinez' peak is 16.  All 3 threw over 200 IP in their peak seasons.  Towers is on pace for 28 in 208 IP (if he was allowed to throw that many innings).  Gulp.
Magpie - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 11:15 AM EDT (#185650) #
I think Craig was referring to Jimmie Foxx.

Ah, the Beast. Who was indeed a hitter, and if he's a catcher so is Dale Murphy.
ChicagoJaysFan - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 12:20 PM EDT (#185652) #

Kenny Lofton is another one that joins the ballot in 2013 (the HOF lists who is currently eligible for which year).  He's not in the same league as Biggio, Piazza, Clemens, and Bonds, but for those that like a big hall, I can see him going in (his 600+ steals are going to look very big around the time he's eligible).  Of course Raines gets in first, and I don't think I want Lofton in, but he does add some talent to that class.
John Northey - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 12:39 PM EDT (#185655) #
CJF: Lofton is a solid talent and probably would've got support in any other year (such as 2012) but... in 2013 it looks likely that we'll have a ballot with...

Lee Smith, Jack Morris, Mark McGwire, Alan Trammell, Mark Grace, David Cone, McGriff, Galarraga, Edgar Martinez, Juan Gonzalez, Olerud, Palmeiro, Santiago, Walker, Brown, John Franco, Bernie Williams in addition to Biggio, Piazza, Clemens & Bonds

Gulp.  All of those 21 guys could be said to have a solid argument for the HOF and would've been likely to get in at one time.  But thanks to steroids we'll have Palmeiro, McGwire, Clemens, and Bonds sitting around sucking up 4 slots on around 25% of the ballots rather than getting in.  We'll see around 40% voting for Morris and Smith, plus 10-20% for Trammell, Grace, Cone, McGriff, Martinez, Gonzalez, Walker, Williams.  Guys like Galarraga, Olerud, Santiago, Brown and Franco will be lucky to survive through 2013 with 5% of the votes.  Not to mention that Larkin and Raines could easily still be sitting on the ballot at that point too.  Sosa also could be there for the first time.

If that ballot happens (sans Larkin/Raines) who would you vote for?  Remember, there is a 10 name limit.  Don't forget many HOF voters limit themselves to somewhere between 1 and 5 names.

I'd be going Clemens, Bonds, Piazza, Biggio, Palmeiro (3k hits & 500 HR is hard to ignore), McGwire, Trammell, Martinez, McGriff, Walker, oops I've hit the end of the ballot and if Sosa, Raines and Larkin were there I'd have to put them on instead of Martinez/McGriff and Walker.  I don't see the steroids as an issue, especially given MLB had no policy until well after the big 5 and who knows who else used without our knowledge.
King Ryan - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 01:23 PM EDT (#185657) #
Ah, the Beast. Who was indeed a hitter, and if he's a catcher so is Dale Murphy.

But Dale Murphy wasn't as good a hitter as Piazza.
Mike Green - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 01:49 PM EDT (#185658) #
You can make an argument that Piazza's best 5 years (93-97) are better than anybody else's in MLB history.  During that time, he was a passable defensive catcher and a beast at the plate.  Bench's best 5 (70, 72, 74, 75 and 77) might have been better.

By the time he was 30, it would have been better if Piazza had been a full-time first baseman. 
Anders - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 02:24 PM EDT (#185659) #
The third-greatest hitter ever to seriously don the tools of ignorance, and the second-best hitter as a full-time catcher.  I would put Gibson and Bench and Berra ahead of him and would note that Campanella was better than him at his absolute best, but that's it.

Leaving aside Jimmie Foxx (I guess?), I find the argument for Gibson difficult. As Rob Neyer puts it (insider only)

Perhaps there's a case to be made for Josh Gibson, especially someday when we actually are allowed to look at the Negro Leagues data the Hall of Fame has embargoed. But Gibson died when he was 35, and had for years been suffering the ill effects of drug abuse and a brain tumor. Gibson may have been as talented as any catcher who ever lived, but his performance did not match his talent. In my opinion.

I think there is a reasonable argument that Piazza is one of the 5 best catchers ever, and certainly the best hitter.
ChicagoJaysFan - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 02:48 PM EDT (#185662) #
I wonder how Neyer evaluates Koufax if he thinks like that regarding Gibson?

Fact is Gibson ended his career hitting 1 HR every 10.6 ABs and sporting an average well above .350.  We don't know how that relates to the majors at the time, but I think discounting it because he had a brain tumor and drug problems is a stretch. Don't forget, he was (apparently) outhitting a pretty decent guy with the stick, Jackie Robinson, during those years.

John Northey - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 04:36 PM EDT (#185664) #
When it comes to raw hitting it is hard to say anyone was better than Piazza as a catcher.

Top 5 Peak OPS+ figures (100+ games played) for some notables...
Campanella: 159-155-153-135-131
Bench: 166-143-141-140-133
Fisk: 162-138-136-134-134 plus 3 times at 150+ in 50-76 games
Carter: 146-143-138-137-126
Berra: 142-140-137-137-135
I-Rod: 136-128-126-125-120 plus a 155 in 91 games
Ted Simmons: 148-144-142-141-135 a largely forgotten pre-Piazza great hitter poor defender

Then comes...
Mike Piazza: 185-172-166-155-152 with another 152 as well

Namely, Piazza had more 150+ seasons than all of the catchers I listed above.  More than Campanella, Fisk, Bench, Carter, Berra, I-Rod and Simmons combined.
He had 3 years better for offense than any of them.  This is factoring in park and the offensive levels of the leagues they played in.
His career OPS+ of 142 is better than any season for I-Rod and equals the best season for Berra.

There really is no comparison between Piazza and the others when it comes to hitting.  He is so far past them it is a total joke. 

For defense, I have argued for years that the baseball stats community is missing a large part of catchers defense by focusing on throwing out runners to the exclusion of anything else.  I mean, c'mon, that is like measuring second baseman only on their ability to turn the double play and ignoring if they have any range at all.  It is a very important part, but far from the only part of their job.

To see another aspect and how it flips things check blocking pitches and the runs it adds/subtracts.
Worst for career (I-Rod #22) -
Best for career (Piazza #1) -
Best 20 single seasons (3 times for Piazza) -
Worst single seasons (Bench 11th) -

Just imagine if this stat was the publicly known one instead of caught stealing.  It was shown to be as consistent as batting average.

It is noted how many runs it saves vs stolen bases and does a summary at the end.
Piazza: Stolen Base Runs: -131, Missed Pitch Runs: 41 = -90 = about 9 games lost
I-Rod: Stolen Base Runs: 77, Missed Pitch Runs: -15 = 62 = about 6 games won
The figures are for their careers through the end of the 2005 season.
Still a big plus for I-Rod but it does cut it down by the equivalent of 5 1/2 wins.  Just imagine if other aspects of catchers defense come out in favour of Piazza (as I suspect they would).
ChicagoJaysFan - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 05:13 PM EDT (#185665) #
Something also to be considered with the catcher position is the number of games played.  It's hard to account for it as surely playing more games in a season, given the requirements of the position, reduces the performance over that season.  Also, not playing increases the amount of time given to the backup catcher, who is usually one of the worst hitters on the team.

If we just consider the impact of playing the backup more, this dampens Piazza's advantage over Bench, but not to an overly significant degree.

Piazza's best seasons:
  • 1997 - 152 games, 185 OPS+ (truly one of the greatest seasons ever)
  • 1995 - 112 games, 172 OPS+
  • 1996 - 148 games, 166 OPS+
  • 2000 - 136 games, 155 OPS+
  • 1998 - 151 games, 152 OPS+
The average season becomes 140 games with 165 OPS+

Compare that to Bench:
  • 1972 - 147 games, 166 OPS+
  • 1974 - 160 games, 143 OPS+
  • 1970 - 158 games, 141 OPS+
  • 1975 - 142 games, 140 OPS+
  • 1977 - 142 games, 133 OPS+
The average season becomes 150 games with 145 OPS+.

Clearly, even when you factor in the greater use of the backup catcher, catcher will be a better offensive position for Piazza's teams than Bench's.  However, the difference does decrease a lot.

Let's assume an average backup catcher has an 80 OPS+ (I have no way of knowing if that's a good number - it's purely a WAG).

In those remaining 22 games for Piazza (actually 22.2), his teams get an 80 OPS+, which makes the average over the season to be 154.

In the remaining 12 games for Bench (actually 12.2), his teams also get an 80 OPS+, which makes the season catcher OPS+ 140.

It's still a big advantage to Piazza, but not as big as the first glance.
Mick Doherty - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 05:33 PM EDT (#185666) #

Let's assume an average backup catcher has an 80 OPS+ (I have no way of knowing if that's a good number - it's purely a WAG).

Bill Plummer, who was Bench's backup for most of the 1970s, had a career OPS+ of 53. Tom Prince, one of Piazza's many backups - he during the latter LAD days -- had a career OPS+ of 66.

You might be WAGging a bit high!

Mike Green - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 05:51 PM EDT (#185667) #
The "missed pitches" information is useful, but not very reliable. The assumption that wild pitches and passed balls should be equally attributed to the catcher is flawed. You can see it in a number of places.  Here is Pudge's career, according to this measure.  You will notice the strange thing that happens in 1996, when Pudge all of a sudden becomes great after being terrible in 1991 and being below average every year through 1995.  Pudge arrived in 1991.  The Rangers' pitching staff of the day, although it had no knuckleballers, had the worst control in the league.  Bobby Witt, Jose Guzman...

Pudge did fare a tiny bit worse than the backup catchers in both the WP and PB departments, but attributing any share of the high number of WP he and the backups had to the catchers is probably a bad idea, and accounts for his very poor score that year.  The Rangers' control improved slowly over the next 5 years, as did Pudge's score. 

Another example is Piazza's 2002, which rates as a top season.  The Mets that year had a total of only 33 missed pitches by any of their catchers.  The 33 year old Piazza was a smidge better than the backup catcher Vance Wilson.  The system does appear to credit catchers on pitching staffs with good control.

I don't doubt that Piazza was (modestly, actually) above average at blocking pitches, but I do not agree that the effect was anywhere near as large as the SABR presentation suggested.

Magpie - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 06:04 PM EDT (#185668) #
Actually, Jimmie Foxx strikes me as a very good comp for Josh Gibson. It's hard to know for sure, but they seem very similar to me as hitters (and as for Gibson fading early and dying young, so did Foxx - he had his last Beastly season at age 32, by which point he'd hit 492 of his 534 career homers.)
AWeb - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 07:16 PM EDT (#185669) #
Of course, if you are going to discount the "Missed pitches" stat by looking at the pitching staffs, and I agree that this should be done, you have to do the same with the caught stealing stats. Toronto pitchers have been notably awful at holding on runners the last few years, with Molina dropping way down here, then returning to near career norms after leaving (it's my impression it's been better this year so far).  Pitchers, I would expect, have more effect on SB% than catchers, it's just that small sample sizes make them hard to track. McGowan on the hill last year had a 29-1 success rate against, Burnett was 31-0. Clearly the lion's share of the blame lies on these guys...Zaun isn't a good thrower, but those are horrific numbers.

Pitch calling with runners on base was always something Ivan Rodriguez took heat for, as he had the reputation of calling for fastballs (hittable!) to make it easier for him to throw out runners. I'm not sure if the data existed to test that claim at the time (not like the pitch f/x data now), but it was widely made.

A serious question with respect to catcher arms - if the break even point on stolen bases is around 75%, isn't it good for the team to have a catcher with a "weak" arm that throw out runners 30% of the time? Piazza fell short of even this at times, but a great arm for a catcher strikes me as the one defensive skill it's easy for a team to avoid if they so choose. In  his awesome 1997 year Piazza went 112-43 catching runners. This is 4 "extra" outs above the break even point, even if it was a lot of steals.

Oh, and I put Piazza in the top 3 catchers all time, with Gibson and Bench. That offense was just too great for too long to ingore.
grjas - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 09:53 PM EDT (#185672) #
There's a DH in Oakland that seems to be heating up having hit 3 homeruns in the past 2 games.

Hmmm, interesting... in 23 games with Oakland, Thomas has a BA of 293, an OBP of 400, 14 RBI's and an OPS of 150+.

In the full season to date, Rios has 17 RBI's, Hill 18, Overbay 14, and Stairs 14. Oh yes and our hotest guy Rolen has 10 RBI's in his 23 games.

Smooth move JP.
Geoff - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 10:16 PM EDT (#185674) #
What are the chances that Piazza gets inducted as the first Marlin to the HOF?
John Northey - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 10:18 PM EDT (#185675) #
Actually, if you check the article, the missed pitches is adjusted for staff.  The data ended up being fairly consistent year-to-year, at least as consistent as hitting stats.  I-Rod (I always think of Fisk as Pudge) had two good years (+10 or more) and 3 horrible years (-10 or more) with 6 others at -5 or worse and just 3 in the -4.99 to +4.99 range.  He basically had two career years in blocking and 9 years where he was ugly back there, even factoring in the wildness of his pitchers, and 3 average years.

As to the modestly above average, Piazza ranked first for career vs everyone since 1957.  To say that is modestly above average is like saying I-Rod was modestly better than average at throwing out runners, or that Bonds was modestly above average in hitting home runs.  For his career Piazza saved 10.8% more runs than anyone else since 1957.  Not 10.8% above average, but 10.8% above the #2 guy.  That is a 'wow' thing, not a 'ho hum'. 

Does that make Piazza the greatest defensive catcher ever?  No.  It does indicate though that he certainly wasn't the worst, and that if there is anything to a catchers ability to call a game I'd put money on Piazza being better than I-Rod due to their staff's success or lack thereof.  It may not shift Piazza ahead of Bench, but it certainly helps the argument.
mathesond - Wednesday, May 21 2008 @ 10:58 PM EDT (#185676) #
What are the chances that Piazza gets inducted as the first Marlin to the HOF?

I think that honour should go to Bobby Bonilla
Pepper Moffatt - Thursday, May 22 2008 @ 09:42 AM EDT (#185678) #
What are the chances that Piazza gets inducted as the first Marlin to the HOF?

I think that honour should go to Bobby Bonilla

Or better yet - Tim Raines.
Mike Green - Thursday, May 22 2008 @ 01:46 PM EDT (#185700) #
John, I much prefer Tango's method (and Tom Ruane's) of addressing the impact of pitchers on WP totals. I am sure that Piazza's WP/PB deltas will be miles behind Benedict's, and behind Carter's and Dempsey's.   I expect that he'd end up on the good side overall somewhere between Milt May and Butch Wynegar. 

When all the deltas (including SB and CS) are added up, I am confident that Piazza would end up with worse numbers than any of the 29 catchers with the most playing time between 1972-1992 (Charlie Moore being worst at -3 linear weight runs/148 games). If I am right, that would mean a difference of 15-20 runs per season on defence between Carter (say) and Piazza, and that's a lot of meatballs.

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