Baseball Crank
Covering the Front and Back Pages of the Newspaper
April 26, 2006

Mike Piazza has hit his 400th home run, the first catcher ever to do that. (Yes, I know he didn't hit all 400 as a catcher). Congratulations.

Posted by Baseball Crank at 6:27 PM | Baseball 2006 | Comments (8) | TrackBack (0)

He will reach 400 while catching, in time. As maligned as his defensive abilities are, he has not DH'd, PH'd or played 1B very much. My guess is he has hit less than 20 or so in games where he wasn't listed as catcher.

Posted by: LargeBill at April 26, 2006 11:12 PM

Just think how many he would have if he ran hard all the time.

Posted by: misterpet at April 27, 2006 7:53 AM

I seriously doubt that Piazza would gain any additional home runs by running hard all the time. And at any rate, if there is a player in baseball who should be allowed to pick his spots to run hard, it's a power-hitting catcher who plays as much as he does.

Posted by: Jerry at April 27, 2006 9:36 AM

Misterpet, making a comment on Piazza not hustling is a serious misunderstanding of what a long time catcher does.

He did it in Dodger Stadium and Shea, which makes the feat all the more incredible. Look at the list of catchers who did NOT make it to 400: Bench, Carter, Fisk, Berra, Cochrane. So I would say that 350 home runs is the gold standard of a catcher, much as 500 home runs is for an everyday hitter. Not generally enough for Cooperstown by itself (or Kingman would be a candidate), but enough that if you do anything else even reasonably well, you deserve in. Piazza, at 400, puts him on a level of at least 600 for an everyday player (and anyone who has caught understands that nobody, nobody will ever get to 500 catching). Add the fact that he is an OK defensive catcher who can't throw (which, had he played in the fifties meant nothing), makes him a helluva candidate for catcher postion 3-5 all time (sorry, I saw Bench catch, and he could do it all).

Had Mike played in the Launching Pad or Wrigley, he would probably be at 450 or even more. I tell my kids that he is the closest they will ever see to Josh Gibson.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at April 27, 2006 9:45 AM

He still can't throw out my grandmother on the basepaths. And he's still is an assault on my eyes in regards to defensive fundamentals behind the dish.

Posted by: Nate at April 27, 2006 11:29 AM

I think Victor Martinez bought the Piazza video when he was a kid. He hits a ton, is slow as molasses and is BRUTAL behind the plate. He is 0 for this year in runners thrown out and his defensive ineptness will plague and haunt Cleveland all year as teams continue to take extra bases against him.

Posted by: jim at April 27, 2006 12:01 PM

Nate and Jim. I will never accuse Mike Piazza of being Johnny Bench. I also remember how many people crucified Carter once his shoulder went, and he was still great there. Throwing runners out is an important skill of a catcher, but it is not, and should not be, the deciding factor. How his pitchers deal with him is far more important. The press tried to drum that up against Piazza, but it never went anywhere. He called a fairly good game, was adequate at blocking the plate, couldn't throw, and was OK on passed balls. You couple that with someone who hits like Josh Gibson, and the appropriate response is, "Glad to have you there." I saw Torre catch, and I lived through the early Mets, so trust me, I know brutal catchers. Mike was OK back there.

Posted by: Daryl Rosenblatt at April 27, 2006 12:44 PM

Not really dissing on Piazza, he certainly is one of the top 20 catchers of all-time. Bench and Carter were freaks given their dual abilities. Piazza at his heights would have been nice to have. But have you seen Martinez throw? Even the Red Sox run on him. He can't get it down to second.

Posted by: jim at April 27, 2006 1:52 PM
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