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Assessing Billy Wagner's Hall of Fame candidacy

Trevor Hoffman is not the only closer up for debate for the Hall of Fame. Billy Wagner, the flame-throwing left-hander is also on the ballot.

Billy Wagner was a left handed flamethower with a very good career
Billy Wagner was a left handed flamethower with a very good career
Andy Lyons/Getty Images

Billy Wagner had a very good career as a closer. Will it be enough to sway the voters?

The case for Wagner as a Hall of Famer

Wagner was a first-round draft pick by the Houston Astros in 1993, twelfth overall.He was a starter all the way through the minor leagues; it was not until he permanently made it to majors in June 1996 when he became a full-time closer.

He took over closing duties in Houston in 1997 and would stay a closer through his final season with the Braves in 2010 excepting for two injury-filled seasons.

He had seven All-Star games to his resume and two Cy Young and MVP list appearances.

Wagner now sits at fifth all-time in saves with 422 and had a 85.9% save conversion rate. He is sixth all-time in games finished with 703.

He has a career WHIP lower than Hoffman (0.998) and a higher K/BB % (3.99) than Hoffman as well. He also has a career K/9 of 11.9 which would be first all-time if he had broken the 1000 innings pitched threshold Baseball reference uses.

The case against Wagner as a Hall of Famer

Like Hoffman, Wagner will have to fight the bias against closers. He actually has better rate stats than Hoffman in quite a few areas but has fewer career stats than him due to a slightly shorter career. Had he broken the 1000 innings pitched mark, I think he'd get much more consideration.

Final WAR numbers

Baseball Reference has his WAR at 28.1. JAWS has him at 24.0. And Fangraphs has his WAR at 24.2.

My two cents

I originally thought I'd put Wagner ahead of Hoffman, but I just can't quite do it. He needed probably two more seasons for me to do that. I'll guess he will get half as much support at Hoffman does with the BBWAA voters. He should survive the 5% rule and be on next year's ballot again.