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Billy Wagner deserves a shot at the Hall of Fame

When compared to other Hall of Fame relievers, Billy Wagner's stats measure up favorably.

Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Over at Beyond the Boxscore, Bryan Grosnick made the case for Billy Wagner to be elected to the Hall of Fame when he becomes eligible. He found that Wagner has a strong case to be mentioned among the all-time great relief pitchers. Grosnick's argument centers around comparing Wagner to current Hall of Fame relievers Hoyt Wilhelm, Rich "Goose" Gossage, Rollie Fingers, and Bruce Sutter, along with future inductee Mariano Rivera.

First he looks at bWAR and notes that Wagner actually had a higher total than Fingers and Sutter despite a disadvantage due to throwing fewer innings. He also falls between the two in terms of JAWS scores. Grosnick then moves to fWAR to make Wagner's case and finds that among pitchers with at least 700 innings pitched, Wagner is fourth in fWAR.

Moving away from counting stats, Grosnick looks for other ways to make Wagner's case. In terms of FIP- and ERA-, Wagner comes out at number two in both categories behind only Mariano Rivera. Also by measure of RE24, Grosnick again finds that Wagner can be favorably compared to some of the best relief pitchers of all time. He concludes:

There's a very compelling argument to be made that, on an inning-by-inning basis*, Wagner is the second-greatest relief pitcher of all time. The indexed versions of ERA and FIP make that argument. fWAR makes that argument. RE24 makes that argument.

Wagner signed a four year deal with the Mets after 2005 season to become the teams closer. He was ultimately with the Mets for four of his 16 years in the big leagues from 2006 until he traded to the Red Sox in 2009. He saved 40 games during the 2006 and made the All Star Game in 2007 and 2008. 2008 also saw Wagner undergo Tommy John Surgery after tearing his ulnar collateral ligament in September.