Billy Wagner’s on the Hall of Fame ballot for the fourth time. He was on 11.1% of the ballots last year. He’s been around that 10% mark each time, so he stays on the ballot.
He pitched for 5 different teams, in his 16 year career, spending most of it with the Houston Astros.
Wagner sits 6th on the all-time saves list. He made 7 All-Star teams, won 1 reliever of the year award, got MVP votes twice and Cy Young votes twice.
He pitched in 853 games, had a 2.31 ERA (terrific career number) with 422 saves. He averaged 11.9 strikeouts per 9 innings (that’s a pretty amazing career number).
Billy pitched in the playoffs 7 times, but never made it to the World Series. He has pretty terrible numbers in 14 playoff games.
Comparing him to Hoffman (who made it to the Hall last year), he has about 150 less innings, he about half a run better ERA, he has about 60 more strikeouts (in the 150 less innings) and 7 less walks (in 150 less innings). The argument for Hoffman over Wagner is all the save count (601 for Hoffman, 422 for Wagner). Wagner had 69 blown saves for 86% save percentage. Hoffman 76 for an 89% save percentage. So the difference in the Writers vote is all the save total.
Most similar careers: None, really. Mariano Rivera (1283 innings, 49 ERA-) would be the closest, but that’s 400 more innings + playoffs difference. Tom Henke is the closest on there, and he was one-and-done with 1.2% support.
Would you vote Billy Wagner into the Baseball Hall of Fame?
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