When Mike Piazza gets inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame on Sunday, you'll hear plenty about the legendary offensive skills that launched 427 home runs and got him into 12 All-Star Games. That's as it should be; Piazza is either the best hitting catcher in history or darn close to it, depending on how you measure such things.
What you won't hear about very much about, in all likelihood, is what Piazza did behind the plate. Needless to say, his defensive reputation was less than stellar. Here's The New York Times calling Piazza a "hard-hitting, poor-catching star" at the time of his 1998 trade to the Marlins. Here's Sports Illustrated kindly calling him "not a smooth receiver" in 2000. If you were so inclined, you could find plenty of other similar stories from the time. The narrative goes that Piazza wasn't much of a catcher, and that's probably how he'll be remembered: all bat, no field.
Mike Petriello is an analyst for MLB.com and the host of the Statcast podcast. He has previously written for ESPN Insider and FanGraphs. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.