Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Hall of Fame Candidates - Catchers

It's almost time for the Hall of Fame voting, which means it's time to look back on baseball's past and weed out who the very best in history are. Out of the possible candidates, eligible voters are allowed to put ten names on their ballot. Players who appear on 75% of the ballot make it in. I will follow this formula and assemble a ballot of my own. I am going to look at the players by position and determine if there are even ten names worthy of consideration.

Today we will start with the two eligible catchers. Before I post tables, I should explain to non-stat minded readers some of the stats. All of these stats were taken from Baseball Reference. Bill James Hall of Fame Monitor assesses how likely a player is to be voted into the Hall of Fame based on statistical benchmarks. Bill James Hall of Fame Standards test is a point system that gives players extra points for how much they exceed certain statistical values. Jay Jaffe's WAR Score system averages a player's career WAR with the average WAR of his best seven seasons and then compares this number to other players in his position. This allows us to see how much better or worse he is than the average player at his position. Lastly, WAR, or Wins Above Replacement assesses how many wins a particular player added to his team over what a replacement-level player would have netted for the team. Now then, on with the candidates.

Mike Piazza 1st 207 62 16 56.1 40.7 48.4 41 1912 6911 1048 2127 427 1335 17 759 0.308 0.377 0.545 0.922 143
Sandy Alomar 1st 48 24 20 11.6 11.8 11.7 41 1377 4530 520 1236 112 588 25 212 0.273 0.309 0.406 0.716 86

Mike Piazza

Mike Piazza jumped right into a Hall of Fame calibre career with a 1993 season that earned him the Rookie of the Year award. Piazza hit for a .932 OPS and blasted 35 home runs in his first season and it was uphill from there. He had arguably his best season in 1997 when he hit 40 home runs, had a 1.070 OPS, and finished second in MVP voting. Piazza was never voted in as the Most Valuable Player, but he had four top five finishes in voting and three more season in the top ten. He was named to twelve All Star teams in sixteen seasons. In ten of his appearances, he was voted in as the starter. This popularity with the fans ties him with Johnny Bench for third place all-time in starts at the catcher position behind Ivan Rodriguez and Yogi Berra. Piazza won ten Silver Sluggers, which is most all-time at the catcher position. His ten awards were all in a row, as he took the award every season from 1993-2002. The major knock against Piazza is his defense. He routinely led the league in stolen bases allowed and passed balls.

As far as career numbers, Piazza is first all-time in OPS, tenth in batting average, and fourth in weighted OBA. In terms of rate stats, he is tops in home runs, eleventh in runs, and fourth in RBIs. Quite frankly, Mike Piazza is in the discussion as one of the best offensive catchers of all-time. It may take a few years due to steroid talk, but if Piazza doesn't eventually make it in, then there is no reason for a Hall of Fame to exist.

Sandy Alomar

Alomar's resume isn't as dazzling as Piazza's. He also won the Rookie of the Year award, taking the 1990 prize, but the comparisons end there. He was named to six All Star games, including three as the starting catcher. He never won the Silver Slugger, but did take home the 1990 Gold Glove. From 1994-1997, he had a four year stretch of showing improved power hitting, but it trailed off as his career started to fade in 1998. Alomar hung around until 2007 thanks to his average defensive ability. He played four more seasons than Piazza, but appered in almost 600 less games thanks to injuries or being relegated to backup status.

Both of these cases are easy decisions, as Piazza is a slam dunk, while Alomar is an astounding no. The only thing holding Piazza back is his admission of using androstenedione before it was banned. Personally, you can chalk me up as not caring about PEDs. In my opinion, the rampant use of steroids in the late 80s to now represents an era of baseball much like the deadball era. If a player takes a substance that is banned now, I think he should be suspended, but if players took steroids before they were banned by baseball, then it can't really be held against them for trying to gain a competitive edge. At the end of the day, steroids don't magically make you a better hitter, so a player's ability and numbers can't be ignored just because they used PEDs.

My ballot:
1) Mike Piazza

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