Gary Carter, Not Mike Piazza, Was the Mets' Most Valuable Catcher

Harold FriendChief Writer IFebruary 15, 2012

FLUSHING, NY - 1985:  Catcher Gary Carter #8 of the New York Mets at bat during a 1985 season game at Shea Stadium in Flushing, New York.  (Photo by Rick Stewart/Getty Images)
Rick Stewart/Getty Images

On Aug. 16, 2002, the New York Mets' 40th Anniversary All-Amazin' Team was announced.

Mike Piazza was selected as the catcher. It is a selection that is difficult to question, so let's do just that.

Gary Carter was the most valuable Mets catcher. Piazza will always be rated as the greater player, but Carter was more valuable to the Mets. Gary Carter was (and is) a world champion.

Piazza was the greatest hitting catcher ever. Although he was a good defensive player his first few seasons with the Los Angeles Dodgers, he was a defensive liability during his tenure with the Mets.

Attempting to quantify defense is almost an exercise in futility, but statistics are helpful despite the fact that they reveal only part of the picture.

A modern defense statistic is Rtot/yr. It is defined as the number of runs above or below average a player was worth during a 135-game season. Basically, "total runs per year."

During his Mets seasons, Piazza's Rtot/yr numbers were:

1998    0
1999    -3
2000    -4
2001    -12
2002    -14
2003    -2
2004    -9
2005    -13

As a Met, Piazza threw out a little more than 20 percent of runners who attempted to steal.

Gary Carter was the final piece in what became the 1986 Mets world championship team. He was a solid hitter and an excellent defensive catcher.

During his Mets seasons, Carter's Rtot/yr numbers were:

1985    9
1986    0
1987    0
1988    -12
1989    0

As a Met, Carter nailed about 27 percent of would-be base stealers.

Carter was the team leader on a team of team leaders. The 1986 Mets included Keith Hernandez, Howard Johnson, Mookie Wilson and Ron Darling. Any one of them was capable of being team captain.

Carter came through when it counted the most. He was not going to make the final out of the 1986 World Series. Down to his final strike, he singled off Boston Red Sox right-hander Calvin Schiraldi and the rest is history.

In the 2000 World Series, Piazza became the final out of the New York Yankees' 26th world championship.

I am not a Mets fan, which gives me some perspective. I am a Yankees fan, which takes away that perspective.

From a Yankees point of view, Carter helped lead the Mets to a world championship. Piazza did not.

Carter provided great defense, handled an excellent pitching staff magnificently and was a timely clutch hitter.

I'll take Carter.


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