Yasiel Puig will learn at 1 p.m. PT on Thursday whether or not he won the Final Vote for the 34th and final roster spot on the National League All-Star team. As of Thursday morning, Puig still trailed Freddie Freeman of the Braves. If Puig makes the All-Star team he will be the sixth Dodgers rookie to do so. The fourth was catcher Mike Piazza, in 1993.
Fernando Valenzuela set the bar for Dodgers rookie pitchers by winning the Cy Young Award, but Piazza is the gold standard for all Dodgers rookie position players. The 62-round draft pick in 1988 emerged from relative obscurity to become much more than just Tommy Lasorda's godson. Piazza came out hitting in his rookie season.
Piazza opened April with an 11-game hitting streak, and he was hitting .327 with eight home runs at the end of May. But that's when he really turned the power on. Piazza over the next four months hit seven, six, seven and seven home runs.
At the break Piazza was hitting .317/.360/.539 and was tied for sixth in the National League in both home runs (18) and RBI (58) and was the only Dodger selected to the All-Star team.
"I was surprised when I saw the newspaper this morning and saw that I had finished third in votes, especially being my first year," Piazza told Ross Newhan of the Los Angeles Times in 1993. "Usually it takes a while for people to recognize you, and that doesn't come until the year after you have a good year. This is so great, and Tommy will be there, too (as a coach). It's so cool. Are there any more adjectives I can use?"
Darren Daulton of the Phillies was named National League starter at catcher, and Dutch caught the first six innings of the game at Camden Yards in Baltimore.
Piazza entered the game in the seventh inning and caught the final two innings. Down 9-3 in the ninth inning, Piazza struck out in his first All-Star at-bat, against Duane Ward of the Blue Jays. He was the last out of the game.
Piazza in his rookie season hit a mind boggling .318 in 149 games and set Dodgers rookie records in home runs (35), RBI (112) and slugging percentage (.561).
Home runs and especially RBI have declined in esteem over the years but in 1993 the triple crown stats ruled all, and Piazza was a godsend. Hitting 30 and 100 was rare enough as it is, as the Dodgers only had six such seasons since moving to Los Angeles from 1958-1992: Frank Howard (1962), Jim Wynn (1974), Ron Cey (1977), Steve Garvey (1977) and Pedro Guerrero (1982, 1983). Here was Piazza doing so in his rookie year.
After he was an All-Star reserve in his rookie campaign, Piazza was voted the National League starter at catcher for each of the next nine seasons, and in 11 of 12 years. Five of those All-Star appearances came as a Dodger, including winning the 1996 All-Star Game MVP.
Piazza would go on to set the major league record with 396 home runs as a catcher. But his days as a Dodger ended with Frank Sinatra's days on Earth.