MLB Hall of Fame: Mike Piazza Should Have Been an Easy Choice for Cooperstown

Andrew Gould@AndrewGould4Featured ColumnistJanuary 9, 2013

Mike Piazza's Hall of Fame candidacy should not even be up for debate.
Mike Piazza's Hall of Fame candidacy should not even be up for debate.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

Voting Mike Piazza into the MLB Hall of Fame should be a clear no-brainer.

The announcement was made this afternoon that Piazza did not receive the necessary 75 percent of votes to get elected into Cooperstown. In a deep, talented class swarming with several deserving talents, nobody made the cut because of rampant PED suspicion.

Somehow, someway, the best offensive catcher in history did not receive a "yes" vote from every writer tasked with filling out a ballot. It's an indictment of a flawed system controlled by a group of gatekeepers with a morphed perception of reality.

Going off the numbers, there shouldn't be any argument about Piazza's Hall of Fame credentials. The backstop retired with a .308/.377/.545 slashing line, all mind-blowing numbers from a position with very few offensive stalwarts.

Through his 16-year career, he amassed 427 home runs, 1,335 RBI and a .922 OPS. He currently leads all catchers in home runs, OPS and slugging percentage.

Let's not pretend that Piazza was ever a wizard behind the plate. He played poor defense and offered no value on the basepaths.

Even so, FanGraphs calculated that Piazza finished with a 66.8 WAR, which ranks seventh among all catchers. 

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But it's doubtful that the same writers who handed Miguel Cabrera the American League MVP over Mike Trout are too concerned with Piazza's limitations. 

Instead, Piazza stands to be punished because of terrible timing on his part to enter the ballot when steroid talk controls all baseball discussion.

Is there any proof linking to Piazza to any performance-enhancing drugs? No. Is there even any reasonable connection that causes people to link him with cheating? Nope.

The only crime Piazza committed is hitting baseballs really hard and really far at a time where other players were using PEDs to obtain those same results.

That's ridiculous. That's the equivalent of assuming that every sports writer is an insensitive jerk because Rob Parker is a sports writer who made some stupid remarks on ESPN.

The over-reactionary, guilty-until-proven-innocent landscape in baseball has turned the Hall of Fame selection into the Salem witch trials. Piazza isn't the only victim in this crucible—Jeff Bagwell will face an ever bumpier road to the Hall of Fame, even though he's also a clearly deserving player.

The writers are trying to protect the game's integrity, but instead we need someone to protect the game's reputation from them. If the best catcher to ever swing a bat doesn't secure a ticket to Cooperstown, then who will?