Dodgers: 5 greatest seasons by a catcher
Dodgers Top Individual Seasons by a Catcher:
2) Mike Piazza – 1997
Mike Piazza’ 1997 performance at the plate is the greatest offensive season by a catcher in baseball history. Period.
Adjusting for league and park factors, his 183 wRC+ puts him atop a list of legendary catching seasons that includes the likes of Roy Campanella, Johnny Bench, and Carlton Fisk. Nobody slugged the baseball while playing backstop like Mike Piazza did in 1997, the season before we would be traded to the Florida Marlins (and eventually New York Mets).
Just how good was he in ’97? You can start with his power. He hit 40 home runs, one shy of the record set by Campanella and tied the season before by Todd Hundley. He drove in 124 runs, again second most ever by a catcher to Campanella. And he recorded those power figures while still spraying the ball all over the field, ending the season with an amazing .362 batting average, third highest by a catcher in a single season, and the highest of any backstop who also hit at least 15 home runs.
Piazza, who is the godson of Dodgers legend Tommy Lasorda, finished second in National League MVP voting to Larry Walker, who used the friendly air of Coors Field to lift his numbers slightly ahead of #31 in Dodger blue.
I would be remiss not to mention the speculation of steroid use during the time period when Piazza set the league on fire. The Hall-of-Famer will have those allegations follow him whenever his legacy is considered. However, during a time when it seemed all of baseball’s greatest hitters were juiced up, Piazza still set himself above the rest.