The 20 greatest Dodgers of all time, No. 15: Mike Piazza
We recently asked you to list your choices for the 10 greatest Dodgers of all time, and vote you did, as we received an amazing 12,231 ballots. So many people voted that we have decided to expand the list from the top 10 to the top 20. Each weekday at 11 a.m., a new player will be listed as we count down all 20.
Remember, any Dodger, Brooklyn or L.A., was eligible, including managers, owners, announcers, etc. Points were assigned based on where you listed the person on the ballot. Your first choice received 12 points, second choice 10, third place eight, all the way down to one point for 10th place.
So without further ado, here is No. 15:
No. 15: Mike Piazza (12 first-place votes, 10,570 points)
There has been no player chosen lower in a draft who has gone on to have a better career than Mike Piazza. There are also no position players in this top 20 list who have played fewer games with the team.
The Dodgers chose Piazza in the 62nd round of the 1988 draft, the 1,390th player picked overall. And four years later, on Sept. 1, 1992, Piazza made his major league debut. He won the Rookie of the Year award in 1993 after hitting .318 with 35 home runs and 112 RBIs.
Piazza played only five full seasons with the Dodgers, but what a five seasons they were. After his 1993 season, he hit .319, .346, .336 and .362 and finished in the top 10 in MVP voting in each of those seasons. His best season was his final full season, 1997, when he hit .362 with 40 homers and 124 RBIs.
Piazza’s contract was scheduled to run out after the 1998 season, and he was due a large increase in salary. Negotiations turned ugly, and the Dodgers, then owned by Fox, wanted to make a statement. So, on May 15, 1998, they traded the best-hitting catcher in history to the Florida Marlins, along with Todd Zeile, for Gary Sheffield, Charles Johnson, Bobby Bonilla, Jim Eisenreich and Manuel Barrios.
Piazza’s final Dodgers numbers: a .331 average, 177 home runs and a .572 slugging percentage.
The Dodgers and Piazza still have a poor relationship, as evidenced in Piazza’s recent autobiography. Piazza has blamed legendary Dodgers broadcaster Vin Scully for turning the fans against him, but by finishing 15th, it’s obvious that many fans fondly recall Piazza’s short but memorable career in L.A.
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