December 19, 2013

The Best Catcher In Mets History?


The Mets Twitter account is run by an intern, I'm assuming. Still, they should have a cursory knowledge of the sport they are tweeting about. Todd Hundley isn't even in that picture!

Seriously, though, I know Mets fans love Gary Carter. But we aren't going to have a debate about who the greatest catcher in Mets history is, are we? It would be nonsensical. I understand there could be some banter about offensive value contrasted with defensive value, but nothing I couldn't laugh off dismissively as I built the Mike Piazza Shrine And Museum.

Let's not bring the copious amount of statistics into this argument that would support the inane one-sidedness of this conversation. 100 more home runs? 46 point difference in career batting average? It's insane. It's not that I'm being cruel and belittling Carter's accomplishments in the game. it's that Mike Piazza is that much better.

On top of that, Piazza gets a terrible rap as a defensive catcher. He couldn't throw out runners. That was all. He was not some massive liability behind the plate. He fielded his position well, and pitchers performed well throwing to him. From Bill James Online:

The most important part of a catcher’s job is handling his pitchers and in this area Piazza was superb. Here is one of the most telling statistics. In his career behind the plate, pitchers had a 3.80 ERA when Piazza was catching. If you look at all the other catchers who caught the same pitchers in the same year that Piazza did, they allowed a 4.34 ERA. That’s a major difference, much more important than a few extra bases stolen. (In fact, Piazza’s catcher ERA of 3.81 includes the run value of any extra stolen bases he allowed.)
 So there, the myth of Piazza being bad defensively is disspelled.

Or, to sum the argument up more concisely: Mike Piazza can be argued as the best catcher of all time. Carter cannot.

Disagree? Well, you're wrong but feel free to plead your case in the comments or on Twitter. I can be insulted and slandered under @kmflemming.

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