Why is Billy Wagner Not A Lock For HOF This Year?
As we embark on our quest to become somewhat relevant in the baseball Twitterverse, I came across Billy Wagner's Twitter account. Shocked at the fact that he only had 1,016 followers, I started a giveaway to help get him towards 5,000 followers. That blog can be seen here.
As a result of my newfound love for Billy, I have become the biggest proponent of trying to understand why he is not a lock to get into the Hall of Fame this year. Before I get into the reasoning and compare him to other players, I would like to put his stats below.
1x Reliever Of The Year
I understand there are unwritten rules in the voting process for players. I also understand that it is difficult for relievers to get elected, especially in the case of Wagner, where you do not find any postseason accolades outside one of his teams winning an NLDS. However, when looking at recent players elected by the BBWAA there are plenty of examples of players who statistically were at the top of their position but lacked any post-season accolades. These inlcude...
Larry Walker- Class of 2020
Edgar Martinez- Class of 2019
Roy Halladay- Class of 2019
Jim Thome- Class of 2018
Vladamir Guerrero- Class of 2018
Trevor Hoffman- Class of 2018
I am not trying to compare him to any of these players, per se. But the idea that you can keep him out for lack of post-season experience goes out the window. Before I compare him to other closers, I want to point out one of my theories as to why writers might be dragging their feet. Directly behind him in the all-time saves category are two active players. Kenley Jansen and Craig Kimbrel. Both have a real shot of passing Wagner in saves in the next two years before they presumably retire. In the eyes of the voters electing Wagner puts them in a box where they might be pressured to vote for Kimbrel and Jansen when the time comes.
To me, that is fine, and here is why. These might be the last closers ever to come close to 400 saves. The role of a gritty closer who spends their entire career pitching in the same role is becoming a thing of the past. Among active leaders, Aroldis Chapman is in the front with 315 saves. His life off the field is enough to justify him not being in the hall, regardless of the fact that I do not believe he will reach 400. After that, the only player right now on the path to the Hall of Fame if they keep up their production would be Edwin Diaz. After that, there is no one, frankly close to 400, and I do not see anyone in the pipeline. In the new age of analytics, managers are constantly changing what the bullpen looks like. Four hundred saves will be a number very few if any, closers reach in this new age of baseball.
Now to speak about the players that are closer to him statistically. That would be John Franco and Francisco Rodriguez. I will be quick with Rodriguez; his personal issues, to me, stop him from being able to enter the Hall of Fame. Especially with one of the incidents happening at the stadium he was playing. If writers are justifying not bringing Wagner in because K-Rod isn't going in, then they need to look in the mirror.
John Franco is a little different. He was a great closer and leader, but he was never truly dominant. His K/9 rate is only seven compared to Wagner's 11.9. Wagner also was able to accomplish his numbers with 300 fewer innings than Franco. I would not be surprised to see Franco elected by the Veteran's Committee at one point. However, it is clear Wagner was the more dominant pitcher of the two.
That is all I have. Billy Wagner deserves to get into the Hall of Fame this year. Any writer not adding him is just playing some sort of baseball politics that there is no place for in this game.
PHOTO COPYRIGHT: Brett Coomer, Houston Chronicle / Staff photographer