MLB Hall of Fame: Breaking down the 2020 ballot

PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 02: Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees field a ball against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Five of the 2009 MLB World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 2, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)
PHILADELPHIA - NOVEMBER 02: Derek Jeter #2 of the New York Yankees field a ball against the Philadelphia Phillies in Game Five of the 2009 MLB World Series at Citizens Bank Park on November 2, 2009 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit
Prev
32 of 33
Next
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)
(Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images) /

Billy Wagner – fifth year on ballot (16.7% in 2019)

Billy Wagner had an excellent career, but it was overshadowed by his postseason struggles.

After a solid rookie season as one of the Astros setup men, Wagner took over as Houston’s closer in 1997. From there, he established himself as one of the top closers in MLB history, despite having to battle back from several injuries, including Tommy John surgery. Nonetheless, Wagner was a force in the bullpen until he retired following the 2010 campaign.

A four time All Star, Wagner never led the league in saves during his career. Despite that, his 422 lifetime saves rank sixth in MLB history. He saved at least 30 games nine times in his career, showcasing his longevity in the role. Wagner posted a 2.31 ERA and a 0.998 WHiP, his 187 ERA+ ranking second all time amongst pitchers with at least 900 innings. In his 903 innings, he struck out 1196 batters while issuing 300 walks.

For all of his regular season success, Wagner struggled in October. In his 11.2 playoff innings, he posted a 10.03 ERA and a 1.971 WHiP. Wagner was also overshadowed during his career by the likes of Mariano Rivera and Trevor Hoffman, making it difficult for his success in the regular season to get the attention it deserved.

Billy Wagner may well be the best closer that has not been inducted in the MLB Hall of Fame. He has a long way to go for induction, but if he can have a strong surge up the voting ladder, he may get there in time.