By any objective measure out there, former Houston Astros closer Billy Wagner is among the absolute best relief pitchers to ever play the game of baseball. Over the course of his 16 year career, Wagner piled up 422 saves thanks to a career 2.31 ERA in 903 innings while striking out 11.9 batters per nine innings pitched. He made seven All-Star teams, got some Cy Young voting love in 1999 and 2006, and is the sixth best reliever ever by JAWS which is a benchmark that was created to help establish Cooperstown worthiness.
Unfortunately, it has taken BBWAA voters a long time to come around to giving Wagner some support. Relievers have always had a tough time getting any respect when it comes to the Hall and Wagner finds himself in his ninth year on the ballot. However, his vote totals have been trending in the right direction in recent years, so let's take a look at what it is going to take for him to get inducted into Cooperstown this year.
How many votes does Billy Wagner need to get into the Hall of Fame in 2024?
The short answer here is that the threshold for induction into Cooperstown is 75% of all ballots cast. Right now, the best estimate we have is that around 384 ballots will get turned in this year (although that isn't a firm number), so the target number for our purposes here is 288 votes. This number could change if a number of writers don't turn in ballots this year, but that is a good starting point.
Billy Wagner Hall of Fame vote tracker
Fortunately for everyone, Ryan Thibodaux has put together an amazing site and spreadsheet that tracks all of the known information when it comes to Hall of Fame votes every year. The guy has been doing this for years now and it is the best resource for tracking this sort of thing without question.
One thing to note before we get to the vote tally is the difference between public and private votes. While a large percentage of Hall of Fame voters make their votes public via posts on social media, articles written explaining their choices, or just passing the info along to Thibs directly, there is a decent chunk of voters that choose to remain private and anonymous.
That private section of the HOF voting bloc has consistently been stingier when it comes to voting guys into Cooperstown, so banking on the percentages of public votes being accurate to what the final tally will be is not likely to end well. Case in point: Wagner appeared on 71.3% of public ballots last year, but his actual final number was just 68.1% which means he only appeared on a little over half of those private ballots.
Here is where things stand with Billy Wagner's Hall of Fame campaign right now:
Remaining Votes Needed
Current Voting Percentage (Public Ballots)
Note: This count will updated as soon as new ballots are submitted. It is accurate as of January 23, 2024
For the moment, Wagner is in good shape for induction into Cooperstown. He needs to appear on 72.5% of the remaining ballots out there and there are still a ton of ballots that will be made public which is a group where he has performed well in the past.
When is the Hall of Fame announcement?
The official announcement of the 2024 Hall of Fame class will happen on January 23rd, but there is a good chance we will have a good idea of who has a realistic shot well before then thanks to Thibodaux's tracker. Right now, Adrian Beltre, Todd Helton, Joe Mauer, Gary Sheffield, and Wagner are all in a pretty good spot at the moment, but that could change pretty quickly (although Beltre is pretty close to a lock).
The newest Hall of Famers will be inducted into Cooperstown on July 21st and if current trends hold, at least one former Astros player could be among this year's class.