Billy Wagner: 2016 Hall of Fame Candidate


Aug 6, 2013; Washington, DC, USA; MLB former pitcher Billy Wagner (left) talks to Atlanta Braves outfielder Evan Gattis (right) prior to the game against the Washington Nationals at Nationals Park. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Now that some of the euphoria from Tuesday’s Hall of Fame announcement has subsided, it is time to look toward the 2016 candidates. We are all wondering if or when Jeff Bagwell will get in. However, there is another candidate on next year’s ballot from the Houston Astros: former closer, Billy Wagner.

We all remember “Billy the Kid,” right? He was the intimidating closer (and fan favorite) with a wicked fastball who played for the Astros from 1995-2003. You know, the guy before Brad Lidge.

For 8 seasons, Billy Wagner was the anchor in the Houston bullpen and pretty much assured that a close ballgame would end up an Astros’ victory. Wagner set the franchise record for saves (225) before he was traded to the Philadelphia Phillies in November 2003 after questioning the owner’s desire to win.

In next year’s class, Wagner is joined by Ken Griffey, Jr. and Trevor Hoffman as first-time candidates. Griffey is a no-brainer, and it seems Hoffman, who retired as the all-time MLB Saves leader, will probably get in, too. Here is the case for and against Wagner’s induction.


  • 5th All-Time in Saves (422)
  •  2.31 ERA is better than Hoffman (2.87), Lee Smith (3.03), and John Franco (2.89), all of whom are ahead of Wagner in Saves
  • 85.9 Save percentage is better than Smith (82.3%) and Franco (80.8%)
  • 1196 Strikeouts is better than Mariano Rivera (1173), Hoffman (1133), and Franco (975)
  • 7-time All-Star


  • No World Series
  • Never led the league in Saves
  • Lee Smith (3rd all-time with 478 Saves) and John Franco (4th all-time with 424 Saves), are not in the Hall.

There have been 6 closers/relievers with outstanding resumes that have been elected to Cooperstown:

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  • Dennis Eckersley (6x All-Star, World Series champion, AL MVP, AL Cy Young winner, 2x Saves champion)
  • Rollie Fingers (7x All-Star, 3x World Series champion, AL MVP, AL Cy Young winner, 3x Saves champion)
  • Rich Gossage (9x All-Star, World Series champion)
  • John Smoltz (8x All-Star, World Series champion, NL Cy Young, NL MVP)
  • Bruce Sutter (6x All-Star, World Series champion, NL Cy Young winner)
  • Hoyt Wilhelm (8x All-Star, World Series champion)

So, what are Wagner’s Hall of Fame chances? Honestly, it’s hard to say.

Wouldn’t it be great if there were three Houston Astros caps in Cooperstown instead of just one?

Next: Craig Biggio: 7 Career Highlights