Mike Piazza was arguably the best position player ever to play for the Mets and he certainly was one of my favorites. He retired a few days ago. Over at ESPN, Rob Neyer argues that Piazza was the best-hitting catcher of all-time:
I’m certainly open to suggestion, but I have a hard time figuring how you come with anyone but Piazza when searching for the best-hitting catcher ever. Perhaps there’s a case to be made for Josh Gibson, especially someday when we actually are allowed to look at the Negro Leagues data the Hall of Fame has embargoed. But Gibson died when he was 35, and had for years been suffering the ill effects of drug abuse and a brain tumor. Gibson may have been as talented as any catcher who ever lived, but his performance did not match his talent. In my opinion.
Piazza certainly was the best-hitting major leaguer of them all. Here are some nice tributes to Piazza, from:
I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a right-handed batter with the ability to blister line drives to right field like Piazza. Heck, one time I saw him line a shot to left, and the left fielder dove two steps to his left for it like he was an infielder and the ball got by him. But his home runs to right were awesome. Yo, remember that moon shot he hit off Ramiro Mendoza, the one that went over the fuggin tent at Shea?
Here is a piece I wrote for Baseball Prospectus when Piazza returned to Shea as a Padre and hit two home runs (and almost hit three) back in August of 2006. So long, Yazzie, thanks for the memories.