3/12/09

Article on Mike Piazza

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Excellent article on Mike Piazza on The Hardball Times:

http://www.thehardballtimes.com

Who was the better catcher? Mr. All-Hit Mike Piazza, Mr. All-Field Pudge Rodriguez, or Mr. A Lot of Each Johnny Bench?

Let's start with their hitting, shown in the graph below by sorting each player's seasonal batting runs above average from best to worst, left to right:

Piazza was definitely the best hitter of the three, and his 72 RAA season in 1997 was simply amazing (.362/.431/.638 with 40 home runs.) He had nine seasons at least 25 runs above average, while Bench had four, and Pudge, two. In total, Piazza accumulated 403 career hitting runs above average, to Bench's 245 and Pudge's 105. I should note that runs were scarcer (and thus more valuable) in Bench's heyday, and that Piazza rates 30 runs worse than either other player in baserunning over their careers.

Of course, I doubt anyone is surprised by the above results. We all know Piazza was a great hitter. It's his defensive skills that have always been questioned, and the reason why Bench is often taken to be the better overall player. And Pudge, well, some have claimed his cannon arm can darn near cure cancer. Here are their seasonal defensive runs above average as a catcher, again sorted from best to worst, left to right:

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