Making the Case: Billy Wagner and the 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot

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SAN DIEGO, CA - APRIL 23: Billy Wagner of the Houston Astros pitches against the San Diego Padres on April 23, 2000 in San Diego, California. (Photo by Sporting News via Getty Images)

The 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot has plenty of worthy contenders to join the Hall of Fame this upcoming year. 14 players return to the ballot, and 19 new players have been listed on the ballot. Today, we look at the career of pitcher Billy Wagner.

A reliever who could always throw the heat, Billy Wagner was able to throw with his non-dominant hand and make opposing batters shake when he was on the mound.

Making the Case: Billy Wagner and the 2018 Hall of Fame Ballot

Career Profile

Drafted by the Houston Astros with the 12th overall pick in the 1st round of the 1993 MLB June Amateur Draft, Wagner made his MLB debut two years later in 1995. After spending nine years in Houston, Wagner would be traded to the Philadelphia Phillies on November 3rd, 2005. In exchange, the Astros acquired pitchers Ezequiel Astacio, Taylor Buchholz, and Brandon Duckworth. After spending the next two years in Philadelphia, Wagner signed with the New York Mets in free agency on November 29th, 2005. After frou years in the Big Apple, Wagner was traded to the Boston Red Sox. In exchange, the Mets received players to be named later, later revealed as left fielder Chris Carter and first baseman Eddie Lora.

After finishing out the year with the Red Sox, Wagner signed a one-year, $7 million contract ,with a $6.5 million vesting option for the 2011 season, with the Atlanta Braves. After the 2010 season, Wagner retired and was officially released by the Braves on March 30th, 2011.

Statistics and Accomplishments

In his time with the Astros, Wagner pitched to a 2.53 ERA, with 694 strikeouts and 225 saves in 504.1 innings pitched.With New York, Wagner recorded a 2.37 ERA, 230 strikeouts, and 101 saves in 189.2 innings pitched. In Philadelphia, Wagner earned a 1.86 ERA, while notching 146 strikeouts and 59 saves in 126 innings pitched.

For his career, Wagner compiled a 2.31 ERA, 1,196 strikeouts, 422 saves in 903 innings pitched. Wagner was also named the Reliever of the Year in 1999 while with the Astros. That same year, Wagner received his first of seven total All-Star nominations. He would be named an All-Star in 2001, 2003, 2005, and 2007-2008.

The Arguments For and Against

Wagner has a very interesting case going both ways. In favor of his election, Wagner was one of the most dominant closers in baseball, not just in save numbers but in several other stats as well. He had an 11.9 K/9, as well as a .187 OBP. Both of these are the best in MLB history among pitchers with at least 900 innings pitched. He retired with a WHIP of 1.00, tying him with Dennis Eckersley for the lowest among closers.

One of the strongest arguments against Wagner’s election is his play in the postseason. In 11.2 playoff innings, Wagner had a grotesque 10.03 ERA. One of the other things that limits his election potential is that his total innings pitched is relatively few compared to other Hall of Famers. His 903 innings pitched would be the second fewest among Hall of Famers, only ahead of Satchel Paige and his 476 innings pitched.

Final Verdict

Despite his impressive statistics and numerous All-Star nominations, Billy Wagner will not make it into Cooperstown this year. Later down the line, Billy Wagner  beshould inducted into the Hall. Thanks to an impressive and deep 2018 class on both sides of the ball, pitching and batting, Wagner will stay on the ballot and wait to get his nod into Cooperstown.

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