09 January 2013
At the risk of driving over an old road: I understand how baseball writers can deny steroid users Bonds and Clemens first-ballot Hall of Fame status.
But how do they justify slamming the door in the faces of Jeff Bagwell, Craig Biggio, Tim Raines, Curt Schilling and Edgar Martinez?
And Mike Piazza? If the greatest hitting catcher of all time isn't a Hall of Famer, then Bowie Kuhn really does belong.
Just for grins, let's recap the career that two of every five writers dismissed. In 15 seasons (plus a cup-a-Joe) he hit .308/.377/.545, the highest OPS for any catcher in history. He belted 427 homers, the most all-time by a guy who primarily caught. That's despite playing all but five games of his career in bomb shelters -- Dodger Stadium, Shea Stadium, Petco and whatever they call that monstrosity in Oakland.
He hit 43% above average, which is to say twice as well as an average backstop. He hit .300+ for eight straight seasons and finished in the top 10 of MVP voting seven times. With the lumber, he is the superior of everyone in the history of the planet who has ever squatted behind the plate.
By no accounts was Piazza an asset defensively. Baseball-Reference.com rates his career about replacement level in the field. But that hardly offsets his 63 wins above replacement at the plate. The average HOF catcher is at about 49 wins above replacement.
There has been some sniffing among the voting writers that links Piazza with steroids. Any journalist relying on innuendo to besmirch one of the greatest careers in the annals of the sport deserves to be fired, much less have his BBWAA card burned. Since when is innuendo a credible source?
The writers whiffed this year and the result is a HOF ceremony in August that will induct three men long dead before a crowd of dozens and a flood of empty Cooperstown hotel rooms. Bu Selig has got to be cringing.
The baseball writers have managed the impossible. They've made Gary Bettman look good.