During the prime of his MLB career, Mike Piazza was considered to be a virtual lock to make the Baseball Hall of Fame. That idea proved to be false on Monday, when the Baseball Writers’ Association of America didn’t elect Piazza on the 2013 ballot.
In his first year of eligibility, the former catcher received 57.8 percent and 329 total votes of the 569 ballots that were cast. The Hall of Fame requires a player to receive at least 75 percent of the votes, in order to be elected.
Piazza wasn’t the only former baseball great to not make the Hall of Fame. For the first time since 1996, no players received the minimum amount of votes. Players like Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens and Craig Biggio were all left out on their first time on the ballot.
While it can be argued that several players sould have been in the 2013 class, Piazza may be the biggest snub of them all.
In 16 seasons, most of them with the Los Angeles Dodgers and New York Mets, Piazza was the most dominant catcher of his era. He was named to the All-Star team 12 times, and was in the top 10 in MVP voting in seven of those years.
An argument can be made to call Piazza the greatest hitting catcher to ever play in the majors. He was a below-average defender, but hit for power like no catcher the sport has ever seen. His 396 home runs behind the plate are a record. Piazza is also the only catcher to finish his career with an OPS above .900.
There has been some speculation about whether or not Piazza used steroids, but only because of the era in which he played, along with his historic numbers. No evidence has ever been presented that links the former catcher to using performance-enhancing drugs. Players like Bonds and Clemens were kept out because the government accused them of lying about PED use under oath, but Piazza has never faced similar circumstances.
There’s a chance that Piazza will be elected in 2014 or beyond. Many voters won’t vote for a player on their first ballot, no matter how deserving they may be.
However, if there are any modern players who deserve to make it to Cooperstown in their first year, Piazza might be one of them. He has better offensive numbers than greats like Yogi Berra and Johnny Bench, and had a number of memorable hits in big moments.
With his great numbers and the absence of evidence that he ever cheated, Piazza may be the biggest Hall of Fame snub in recent memory.