Last year, we did our first ever debate on where we tackled the Hall of Fame merit of twenty-four men who are on the Hall of Fame ballot, in what was in our opinion the most loaded ballot in our lifetime.

Since it was so much fun last time, we thought we would do it again!

One thing that has not changed is the number.  We will again debate twenty-four men who are on the ballot.

What has changed are the ones debating.  Last year I had the pleasure of having DDT, the curator of DDT’s Pop Flies blog and D.K. of the Phillies Archivist blog.  This year, Spheniscus, who has participated in past Rock and Roll discussions, will be joining me.

Chairman: Like me you probably noticed that he isn’t getting a lot of press for debuting on the ballot.  It makes sense I suppose, as entering with Trevor Hoffman puts him in the shadow, but is this is a shadow he should really be in?

While he is well behind in Saves (601 to 422), there are a lot of stats where Wagner comes out ahead.  He has superior ERA (2.31 to 2.87), WHIP (0.998 to 1.058), SO/W (3.99 to 3.69) numbers and they have exactly the same JAWS of 24.0.

What people don’t mention about Wagner (maybe because they don’t mention him at all) is just how much he stunk in the playoffs.  In 8 playoff series, Wagner pitched 11.2 Innings with a 10.03 ERA and a 1.971 WHIP.  Hoffman hasn’t been a playoff stud either, but this is so atrocious to me that it counters so much of what he did in the regular season in my eyes.  Honestly, I think Wagner is going to struggle just to get 2.5 percent of the vote, and I don’t think that is a wrong tally for him at all.

Spheniscus: Wagner was a better player than Hoffman. There, I said it. I also proved it in Hoffman’s section. He is a better player than Lee Smith. Also proved in Hoffman’s section. He also has the misfortune of being a bit of a jerk who couldn’t get it done in the postseason in the biggest stage of all, New York, and of never having held the saves record.
If Wagner had played in Kansas City, who was so down for most of his career, we would think of him entirely differently. A great player toiling away for terrible teams always pulls at the heartstrings a little more and changes the writer’s perception. And even though his save numbers would undoubtedly been lower due to fewer opportunities, his vote tally for this Hall would be higher. As it is, 10 years from now, he’ll be buying a ticket to see Hoffman’s plaque. I think 1% is about where he will fall. 

Chairman: I think his biggest misfortune is debuting on the same ballot as Hoffman.  I have no problem agreeing with you that I would rather have Wagner than Hoffman in the regular season (and hope to God I don’t need either one of them in the post-season because my team has a two digit lead going into the ninth).  I am trying to think in this crowded ballot who is going to pick them both?   The sad thing is I have read countless articles about Hoffman’s credentials.  Hell, I got blasted via email when he debuted in the 40’s on our list and not in the top ten!

Basically, what I am saying is that I don’t see anybody picking Wagner over Hoffman (expect maybe us), and frankly, I don’t know that I would pick either.

Spheniscus: I said at the beginning I have 15 guys on this list I would vote into the Hall. None of them are closers. Wagner is first on my list of the three. Hoffman is first on the list of most people. He has no real friends in the media. There is no buzz. There is no way he is getting in. I just want it recorded somewhere in this process that he was the best at his position on that ballot. And that and $23 will get him a ticket to watch the Hall of Fame induction this summer.

Chairman:  I will finish this one up short and sweet.  Wagner would not get my vote this year, and I suspect not very many others either.  Frankly, I think if he gets 2% it is a win for him, which is where I expect him to fall.

Spheniscus: I said he’d struggle to get 2.5%, 2% is probably closer. But I’ll take the under. He will get 1.8% of the vote. More than 25% lower than Hoffman and 15% lower than Smith. All because he never held a record that absolutely no one cares about. Which is insane, but the way of the world.

Billy Wagner

Billy Wagner
Ahhh yes…..the plight of the Relief Pitcher for the Baseball Hall of Fame.   Entering his year of eligibility at the same year as Trevor Hoffman, Billy Wagner’s 400 plus Saves and seven All Star appearances could easily be forgotten by the Baseball Writers of America. Hands down, Wagner was one of the top closers of his era, but we have seen people with similar resumes be dismissed by those who decide Cooperstown. Wagner’s freshman vote tally should be an interesting one.  

The Bullet Points:
Country of Origin:
Tannersville, Virginia, U.S.A.

Eligible In:
The 2016 Vote


Played for:
Houston Astros
Philadelphia Phillies
New York Mets
Boston Red Sox
Atlanta Braves

Major Accolades and Awards:
Rolaids Reliever of the Year (1) (NL) (1999)
7 Time All Star (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008 & 2010)

Other Points of Note:
Top Ten Cy Young Finishes: (NL: 1999, 4th) & (NL: 2006, 6th)
10 Top Ten Finishes (Saves)
1   Top Ten Finish (Games Played)

Notable All Time Rankings:
5.   Saves: 422
35. Games Played: 853

Vote Percentage Received for the Hall of Fame:

Should Be Inducted As A:
Houston Astro

Should Billy Wagner be in the Hall of Fame?

Definitely put him in! - 0%
Maybe, but others deserve it first. - 66.7%
Probably not, but it wouldn't be the end of the world. - 16.7%
No opinion. - 0%
No way! - 16.7%

24. Billy Wagner

A dominating reliever in his day, Billy Wagner would make three of his seven All Star Games as an Astro, the team he began his career.  Wagner would accumulate 225 Saves with 1.039 WHIP and would finish 4th in Cy Young Voting in 1999, which would be the year he won his lone Rolaids Relief Pitcher of the Year Award.
Ah, the road to the Class of 2018 is officially underway as the Baseball Hall of Fame ballot has been released with 33 candidates who are on the ballot.

The candidates in alphabetical are:

Barry Bonds: Bonds is on his sixth ballot and enjoyed his biggest jump last year with a 53.8% finish. That increase gives a lot of hope to the PED associated players for Hall of Fame entry. He is ranked # 2 on

Chris Carpenter: Carpenter is on his first ballot and the former Starting Pitcher went 144 and 94 and won the Cy Young Award in 2005. He was also a three time All Star.

Roger Clemens: Like Bonds, Clemens enjoyed a significant increase in his vote tally moving up to 54.1%. If the seven time Cy Young Award winner enjoys another gain in his sixth year on the ballot we could see him inducted before his time on the ballot ends. He is ranked #1C on

Johnny Damon: Damon is on his first ballot and will struggle to make a second. He was a two time All Star and a two time World Series Champion. He is ranked #99 on

Vladimir Guerrero: Guerrero is on his second year of eligibility and came off a 71.7% result. The 2004 American League MVP likely we will see enough of a rise to gain entry to Cooperstown. He is ranked #9 on

Livan Hernandez: A two time All Star, Livan Hernandez had a career record of 178 and 177. This is his first time on the ballot

Trevor Hoffman: Hoffman was only one percentage point away from Cooperstown last year, thus only a marginal increase in his third year of eligibility should get him in. His 601 career Saves puts him second all-time and he is also a seven time All Star. He is ranked #20 on

Orlando Hudson: Making his first appearance on the ballot, Hudson would go to two All Star Games and was a four time Gold Glove winner.

Aubrey Huff: Huff would accumulate 1,699 Hits and 242 Home Runs over his career. He is also a two time World Series Champion with the San Francisco Giants.

Jason Isringhausen: Isringhausen is also on his first year of eligibility and he was a two time All Star.

Andruw Jones: Jones is entering his first year of eligibility and brings a decent resume with eight All Star Games, ten Gold Gloves and 434 career Home Runs. He is ranked #47 on

Chipper Jones: The career Atlanta Brave is debuting on the ballot and is the most likely newly eligible former player to get inducted immediately. Jones was the National League MVP in 1999 and is an eight time All Star. He won the Batting Title in 2008. He is ranked #3 on

Jeff Kent: Kent is on his fifth year of eligibility and finished with 16.7% of the vote last year, his highest to date. The Third Baseman was the 2000 National League MVP and was a five time All Star. He is ranked #50 on

Carlos Lee: Lee is making his first appearance on the ballot and was a two time All Star. He hit 358 Home Runs with 2,273 Hits.

Brad Lidge: The former Relief Pitcher recorded 225 Saves and was a two time All Star. He was also a World Series Champion with Philadelphia and he is entering his first year on the ballot.

Edgar Martinez: The former Designated Hitter is on his ninth try but his 58.6% gives him hope to possibly get in as it was a 15.2% increase from the previous vote. He is ranked #17 on

Hideki Matsui: “Godzilla” was a two time All Star with the New York Yankees and was the 2009 World Series MVP.

Fred McGriff: It is not looking good for Fred McGriff who is on his ninth year of eligibility following a 21.7% vote tally last year. McGriff is a five time All Star with 493 career Home Runs. He is ranked #33 on

Kevin Millwood: An All Star in 1999, Kevin Millwood is on the ballot for the first time. He went 169 and 152 with 2,083 Strikeouts.

Jamie Moyer: Playing almost to age of 50, Jamie Moyer makes his Hall of Fame ballot debut. Moyer was an All Star once and retired with a record of 269 and 209 with 2,441 Strikeouts. He is ranked #105 on

Mike Mussina: Mussina is on his fifth year of eligibility and finished with a high of 51.8% of the vote. Mussina retired with 270 Wins against only 153 Losses. He would be named to five All Star Games. He is ranked #4 on

Manny Ramirez: Manny debuted last year with only 23.8% of the ballot but the two time World Series Champion and 500 Home Run Club member should see an increase this year. He is ranked #7 on

Scott Rolen: Rolen will be one of the most hotly debated new arrivals to the ballot as his sabremetric numbers far exceed his traditional ones. Still, this is a seven time All Star with a World Series Ring. He is ranked #17 on

Johan Santana: Santana was a two time Cy Young Award winner and four time All Star. He is making his first appearance on the ballot. He is ranked #65 on

Curt Schilling: Unlike many others who were on the ballot previously, Schilling actually trended downwards mostly due to his comments against the media finishing with 45% last year as opposed to the 52.3% he had the year before. Schilling is a three time Cy Young runner-up, two time World Series winner and a six time All Star. He is ranked #8 on

Gary Sheffield: Sheffield is on his fourth year of eligibility and received 13.3% of the vote last year. He has 509 career Home Runs with nine All Star Game appearances. He is ranked #21 on

Sammy Sosa: Sosa is entering his sixth year on the ballot following an 8.6% vote total. That is concerning as he has only finished in double digits on his first year of eligibility. He is ranked #30 on

Jim Thome: Thome is on the ballot for the first time and brings five All Star Games and 612 Home Runs for consideration. He will likely get in but possibly not on his first try. He is ranked #6 on

Omar Vizquel: Vizquel is also entering his first year of eligibility and the defensive specialist should receive enough ballots to remain on future ballots. He is ranked #76 on

Billy Wagner: The seven time All Star is entering his third year on the ballot and he received 10.2% on the ballot last year.

Larry Walker: The 1997 National League MVP is running out of time. He is on his eight year of eligibility and he finished 21.9% last year. He is ranked #15 on

Kerry Wood: The former flamethrower is on his first year of eligibility. Wood was a two time All Star and was the 1998 NL Rookie of the Year.

Carlos Zambrano: On his first year of eligibility, Zambrano was a three time All Star who finished with a career record of 132 and 91.

Not everyone who was Hall of Fame eligible for the first time made the ballot. This includes Miguel Batista,Francisco Cordero, Brian Fuentes, Adam Kennedy, Guillermo Mota, Carl Pavano, Scott Podsednik, J.C. Romero, Ben Sheets, Jeff Suppan and Jack Wilson.

As always, we here at will be very interested to see what will transpire with this latest ballot and we will love watching all of the debates begin!
You know how hard it is to get into the Baseball Hall of Fame? In 2013, with a ballot brimming with qualified candidates, not one player received the 75 percent of the votes needed for admission. (I identified 14 likely Hall of Famers on the 2013 ballot.)

Granted, 2013 was the first year of eligibility for Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both poster boys for performance-enhancing drugs (PED), bringing to a head the contentious debate about "cheaters" and their admission into the Hall. But there were certainly several "clean" players on that ballot, and a few of those, such as 3000-hit-club member Craig Biggio, would have been uncontroversial picks in any previous year.

And although 2014 saw the election of three players—Tom Glavine, Greg Maddux, and Frank Thomas—it was merely the tip of a talent-heavy iceberg (I identified 18 likely Hall of Famers for that ballot), while providing a burn to Biggio yet again as not only did he miss election by one vote (he garnered 74.8 percent of the vote), but three first-time candidates leapfrogged him into Cooperstown.
As we gear up for the 2016 Baseball Hall of Fame balloting and announcements, the overriding question is: Have we returned to normal?

To put that into perspective, how's this for abnormal? In 2013, with a ballot overstuffed with Hall of Fame-caliber candidates (I counted 14), not one candidate was elected to the Hall. Adding to the debacle was the first appearance on a Hall of Fame ballot by Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, both of whom brought the bubbling issue of players suspected or confirmed of having used performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs) to an apoplectic, moralistic boil.