NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Is this the year Mike Piazza takes his place in Cooperstown — or will he go 0 for 3?
According to BaseballThinkFactory.org, a website that tracks ballots made public by members of the Baseball Writers’ Association of America, the former New York Mets catcher has a fighting chance at induction to the Hall of Fame in his third year of eligibility.
Piazza was on 79.2 percent of 106 public ballots as of Wednesday, according to the website. Seventy-five percent is needed for election.
But there’s a long way to go. A majority of the 571 voters last year kept their picks under wraps prior to the BBWAA’s announcement. Piazza appeared on 67.9 percent of 209 ballots collected by Baseball Think Factory in 2014 and ended with an official total of 355 votes (62.2 percent).
A comparison between the public votes tallied last year by Baseball Think Factory and the BBWAA’s final percentages show a small drop off.
— Greg Maddux: 99.5 public, 97.2 total*
— Tom Glavine: 95.7 public, 91.9 total*
— Frank Thomas: 89.0 public, 83.7 total*
— Craig Biggio: 79.4 public, 74.8 total
*Elected to Hall of Fame
Piazza had 427 career home runs, including a record 396 as a catcher, and batted .308 with 1,335 RBIs in 16 seasons mostly with the Mets and Los Angeles. Picked by the Dodgers in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft, Piazza was traded to the Marlins in 1998, and then flipped to the Mets after just five games. He finished his career with one-year stints in San Diego (2006) and Oakland (’07).
Baseball writers have shown an unwillingness to vote in anyone sullied by the Steroids Era, both those proven to have cheated and players stained simply by speculation. In his memoir, Piazza admitted to using substances — androstenedione and Ephedra — before they were banned by baseball. He insisted he never took anything that would have put him in violation of MLB rules.
“I just don’t understand what part of ‘no’ people don’t understand,” Piazza told WFAN radio in February 2013. “I guess it’s just something that, unfortunately, is a black mark on the game. And I hate the fact that it happened in the game because I’ll always love the game. It’s given me everything.”
Former Mets general manager Steve Phillips called Piazza’s snubbing “a travesty” in his first year of eligibility in 2013, when the 12-time All-Star received 57.8 percent of the vote and no players were elected to the Hall. Last year, retired Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone — whose proteges, Maddux and Glavine, made the cut in 2014 — told WFAN that Piazza belongs in Cooperstown.
Voting results will be announced on Tuesday, Jan. 6. The players currently above the 75-percent line, according to Baseball Think Factory’s public-ballot count: pitchers Randy Johnson (99.1), Pedro Martinez (98.1) and John Smoltz (88.7); Craig Biggio (84.0), a member of the 3,000-hit club who fell two votes shy last year; and, of course, Piazza.
So will the third time be the charm?
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