Hall Of Fame Debate: Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez VS Mike Piazza

Hall Of Fame Debate: Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez VS Mike Piazza

This week’s ‘Hall Of Fame Debate’ is going to start a series of Player VS Player comparisons.

Ultimately, many if not all of the players being discussed and debated about are either presently in the Hall of Fame or more than likely they are soon to be elected.

So, with these head-to-head matchups, I think I am just asking you to rank them, 1 and 2, to see if and how we judge a player and their career achievements.

Sound like fun?  It does to me – so, let’s do this!!!

For this match-up, I am pitting Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez against fellow catcher, Mike Piazza.

Personally, I have always liked Pudge and I have never cared for Piazza.  But, I am capable of taking the emotions out of it and strictly base my debate on their merits.

So, now It’s Go Time – Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez VS Mike Piazza

Pudge Piazza

Here is a look at their career numbers:

  Rodriguez Piazza
Seasons 21 16
Games Played 2,543 1,912
Games at Catcher 2,427 1,630
Hits 2,844 2,127
Average 0 0
150-199 hit seasons 7 7
200+ hit seasons 0 1
Runs scored 1,354 1,048
Doubles 572 344
Home Runs 311 427
30-39 HR Seasons 1 7
40+ HR Seasons 0 2
RBI 1,332 1,335
100-RBI Seasons 1 6
30/100 Seasons 1 6
All-Star 14 12
Silver Slugger 7 10
Gold Glove 13 0
Postseason 5 5
WS Titles 1 0


Two very solid and extremely productive players – and quite possibly two of the ten best catchers in the history of the sport.

Pudge Rodriguez compiled a ton of hits during his major league career and he was a threat to join the 3,o00 hits club for a long time.  Mike Piazza was an extremely consistent provider of runs for the duration of his career.  Both men offer multiple tools that you would seek in a catcher – both on offense and defense.  Pudge was clearly the better defender, and Piazza was the supreme run-creating engine.

A few stand-out points for me:
* Piazza had 4 more seasons that were extremely close to the 30/100 marker
* Pudge’s streak of 13 Gold Glove Awards in 16 seasons is unreal
* Piazza has a career .377 on-base percentage
* Had Pudge played more DH instead of catcher during his prime, he could easily amassed 20-25 more hits a seasons and truly come closer to 3,000

So, now the fun begins – who had a better career?  Which catcher would you choose for your team for a 15-season stretch?

For me, it always comes down to how many ways in which a player can help a team.  While Mike Piazza can help deliver wins with his mighty offensive skills and knack for driving in runs, he is not going to provide the anchor at catcher on defense that you may seek.  Pudge on the other hand will surely provide the leadership needed at catcher to both manage the pitching staff and lead the team’s defense – yet he is not going to scare the opposition with his ability to end the game on a single swing the same manner that Mike Piazza would.

And now my answer.  And it was pretty easy for me to come to…

I’m going with Rodriguez.  For me, the defense he offers is something that cannot be overlooked.  Managing the pitching staff, setting the defense, and controlling the base paths are skills that if mastered can make a player elite at their position from a defensive standpoint – and Pudge did all of this exceptionally well.  Offensively he may not have been the threat that Piazza was, but he was no slouch either.  A skilled hitter with the ability to put the ball in play, Pudge was agood source of offensive support and a solid complementary piece.

So, who you got????

35 responses to “Hall Of Fame Debate: Ivan ‘Pudge’ Rodriguez VS Mike Piazza

  1. Pudge, without hesitation. He was one of the best catchers that ever played. Piazza was a great hitter with great power who played the position of catcher, but I was never impressed with his skills behind the plate.
    Pudge didn’t hit as many home runs, but he won more games with his defense and handling of pitchers and his leadership.

  2. Ivan Rodriguez

  3. If we are going to overlook the PED rumors associated with both of these players, especially with Pudge, I cast my vote for Piazza. One oversight to this argument is that Piazza played most of his career in the N.L., which at the time had some great defensive catchers: Charles Johnson, Brad Ausmus, Mike Matheny, and even Jason Kendall.
    Meanwhile, Pudge played in the A.L. for most of his career, at time when defensive catchers were not in abundance. So I do not put as much stock in the Gold Glove award for any position. However, I will concede that Pudge was better defensively.
    But Piazza was a solid defensive catcher, as his .989 fielding percentage was consistent along with only 124 career errors. Likewise, this discussion of handling pitchers confuses me, as Piazza consistenly handled his pitchers all the way to multiple post-season appearences. Piazza excelled offensively; aside from the points that have already been made, his career batting average is 12 points higher, which is signigicant enough warrant attention.
    My final thought it this: if I have a team of great players in place already, Pudge would be a great fit, as he could hold his own offensively and be a stellar defensive catcher.
    However, if I have to pick one to build a team around, Piazza gets the call. He put the team on his shoulders and carried them, unlike Pudge who was supported by his team.

  4. Rodriguez hands down. He was THE BEST catcher of his generation. Honestly I think he could be playing right now if a team gave him a shot.

  5. I’m biased, but I have to go with Pudge. Offensively, it’s sort of a wash when you compare homers, doubles and runs. Pudge wins two of those categories, but not the showy one. Defensively, I never saw Piazza play in person, but I did see Pudge play probably 50 times in person. He was so freakin’ fast getting the ball down to any base behind a runner. He was one of the few players that you had to really watch or you’d miss something great.

  6. Piazza. To put up those numbers while playing catcher is unbelievable. Especially consider he played his home games at Dodger Stadium. Which has always been a pitchers park. Rodriguez played most of his games in home run heaven parks. Piazza by all rights should be a 2 time MVP. No way Larry Walker and Ken Caminiti should of won them

  7. I’m not willing to overlook the PED allegations, which is why I have to go with Piazza. If he were clean, Rodriguez would get more consideration from me.

  8. There is ZERO proof that Rodriguez used PEDs. Pudge is the greatest catcher to ever play in the major leagues. Pudge all the way.

  9. Yogi Berra presents a more difficult comparison as he was more of an offense-first player, spent a significant amount of time in the outfield (245 starts) and didn’t have to worry about opposing base runners all that much. Over the course of Berra’s career, the league was caught stealing 45 percent of the time compared to 31 percent during Rodriguez’s career, and in the American League in the 1950s, only four men stole more than 100 bases over the entire decade. Berra was arguably the greatest major league catcher in the first century of professional baseball and was a better hitter than Rodriguez, but it’s difficult to see him as a better overall catcher due to his clearly inferior defensive impact. Piazza, meanwhile, was the best-hitting catcher ever, but also the worst backstop of the lot above, and not by a little.

    • Dalton- You make some excellent points about Berra, and I agree with you. For this ‘HOF Debate’ I was going with two players from the same era so it could compare peers. For me, I would say Bench, Berra, and Rodriguez are my Top 3 catchers of all-time, and then the debate of Carter, Piazza, and Campanella comes into play for spots 4,5, and 6.

      And soon, the names of Posey and Molina need to enter this conversation as well!!

  10. Throw out all of the stats on this argument!! Both DOMINATED at their position in their era. Hands down the best 2 catchers in the 2 decades they played. Both are Hall of Famers.

  11. No. Both absolutely belong.

  12. I would vote for both of them as of now, as long as no PED proof was present at the time of voting. However, since your goal is to pick one, very narrowing I choose Piazza. And my choice isn’t from the lack of considering defensive prowess.
    I disagree on discrediting the value of Pudge’s 13 Gold Gloves in the argument. The Gold Gloves, MVPs, Cy Young’s, etc. are all results of the human eye-ball factor. What we see is the largest determining factor. Buster Posey certainly didn’t lead the NL in most offensive statistics last year, but majority of the voters said that based on what they saw and not the stats that were compared against, he was most valuable.
    With that said my largest determining factor in choosing Piazza is that I can’t think of another catcher that an offense was mostly built around as him. Johnny Bench had some great offensive counter-parts (Rose, Bench, and Perez), Carlton Fisk had Rice and Yaz, later Baines, Yogi Berra, I don’t even need to give names here, Gary Carter had Dawson and Raines, later Strawberry and HoJo.
    Who did Piazza have has his counter-parts, Dodgers-Mondesi, Karros and Shawn Green? I can’t even think without looking who he played with while he was a Met, maybe David Wright for just a year?
    Pudge holds his own offensively, but Pudge was third, maybe fourth biggest offensive output during majority of his seasons in Texas with Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro, and Will Clark….
    Plus, you can’t help but root for a guy who shouldn’t have made a MLB roster, nonetheless hall of fame consideration for a 62nd round draft pick as a favor to Tommy Lasorda.
    Great start to your player vs. player debate Brian!

    • Charley- You outdid yourself on this one. That is a very nice, fresh perspective. Piazza was the main attraction in the offense, while Pudge was a key component. I’ve never looked at it that way before, and I will agree that it should not be igrnoed too.

      Great work!

  13. Johnny Bench had some great offensive counter-parts (Rose, Bench, and Perez….oops I meant (Rose, Morgan and Perez). 🙂

  14. I vote for Earl Battey the 1960’s Twins all star since they named the Bat after him.

  15. I would have to go with pudge Rodriguez. Just a bit below piazza in offense but much better in defense. Pudge for HOF

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