Braves: Billy Wagner should be a Hall of Famer

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We have written numerous times on how Andruw Jones is a Hall of Fame snub, penalized by recency bias. If Omar Vizquel gets into the hall, it will be criminal if Andruw never does. But he is not the only former Brave who deserves more love in the voting.

Billy Wagner only spent one season with Atlanta. At age 38, he posted a 1.43 ERA and saved 37 games. Wagner clearly had something left in the tank, but instead, he decided to ride into the sunset after one of his most dominant seasons, setting the stage for rookie Craig Kimbrel.

While Atlanta fans only received one year of Wagner’s greatness, they were able to watch him for 16 seasons as a member of the National League. He had 7 All-Star appearances and a career 2.31 ERA. Yet, somehow it has been a struggle for him to get much Hall of Fame support.

Unfortunately, Wagner was disappointed once again today, as he still has an upward battle in terms of votes ahead of him. He was expected to receive a bit over 30% of the votes and topped that mark by 1.7%, which will keep him on the ballot for four more years. It is an improvement from the 17% of votes he received last season. But for one of the most dominant closers in MLB history, it’s incredibly disrespectful.

Wagner has the sixth most saves of all-time. While he may have been overshadowed by the likes of Trevor Hoffman, Mariano Rivera, and Francisco Rodriguez, he is one of the most lights out closers to ever shut the door. His career 11.9 K/9 rate dwarfs all three of those guys, and you could argue Wagner was the best strikeout artist from the left side of all time. He gave up fewer hits than all three, and his career ERA is only beat by Rivera. Where is the love?

Wagner saved games at an 85.9% clip, slightly behind Rivera and Hoffman. But he also received fewer save opportunities over the course of his career. He played 2-3 seasons less than those guys and also played for way worse teams, offering fewer save opportunities. There is no arguing with his .998 WHIP either, one of the best of all time.

All things considered, Wagner is the best left-handed closer of all time. If he had pitched a few more seasons, especially at the level he was capable of, he would likely be a lock right now. If Wagner had crossed the 1,000 inning threshold to qualify for every stat for a pitcher, it would not even be close. He still has time, but if he does not make the Hall of Fame at some point, support for baseball writers should be at an all-time low, who just recently came up with a unanimous decision. Ridiculous.

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