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  1. If Billy Wagner does not make it, I’ll eat my shoe

    Comment by Jeffrey Gross — July 21, 2010 @ 12:44 pm

  2. No.

    Comment by Not David — July 21, 2010 @ 12:50 pm

  3. Career WPA & WPA/LI:

    Rivera: 50.77, 29.95
    Hoffman: 33.27, 16.98
    Gossage: 31.4, 16.54
    Eckersley: 30.97, 28.05
    Wagner: 28.94, 17.49

    Comment by Mike D — July 21, 2010 @ 12:53 pm

  4. No, not a hall of famer.

    Comment by Nick — July 21, 2010 @ 12:57 pm

  5. Will he be? I don’t know. Bruce Sutter is one of the worst selections of the best 20 years, and Wagner has been better than Sutter was. Do journalists like short baseball players?

    Should he be? Let’s put it this way. There is reasonable debate about the method used to calculate WAR for high-leverage relief pitchers (Rivera is at 50 WAR for his career, without any consideration of his post-season accomplishments, and many consider this to be a significant underestimate). It would have to be off by a factor of 2 for Wagner to have a plausible case on merit, assuming you agree with the current size of the hall.

    Comment by Mike Green — July 21, 2010 @ 1:00 pm

  6. The Saber-community should make their own hall of fame. It could include an analysis of the career of each member and perhaps even an interview with said players (when possible). Best of all, it could be based on objective analysis and not all of the hoopla and hootenanny involved with the BBWAA.

    Comment by Piccamo — July 21, 2010 @ 1:04 pm

  7. That’s gross, Jeffrey.

    Comment by Sandy Kazmir — July 21, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

  8. While I don’t think Billy Wagner is hall of fame worthy by the conventional sense, I get the feeling that a new slowered bar for relief pitchers may lead to his eventual enshrinement. Once the no doubt closers such as Rivera and Hoffman have been enshrined and how many of Wagner’s peers have been enshrined, Wagner will get his dues.

    Of course, a dominant and memorable end to his career this year can/will speed up his eventual enshrinement.

    Comment by ABravesFan — July 21, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

  9. I wonder, if the Yankees had Wagner closing games instead of Rivera, with Mariano bouncing between Houston and the Mets among others, would the perception about them be reversed? Their playoff numbers are a difference, but regular season wise, Wagner’s are absolutely incredible with frequent low rate stats like K:BB, K/9, WHIP, etc.

    Comment by Mr. Sanchez — July 21, 2010 @ 1:10 pm

  10. I hope you like leather/rubber/canvas. I would recommend heavy doses of ketchup. I just don’t see it happening (I would say maybe a 20% chance?). In fact, I would eat sushi if he *does* get elected (pre-Veterans Committee, where ANYTHING can happen!).

    Sure he’s offering shoes and I’m offering sushi, but in my mind they’re similarly edible. The texture of rice flat grosses me out. There’s too many of ‘em!! Ick. But I digress…

    Comment by Jason B — July 21, 2010 @ 1:13 pm

  11. I can’t wait to see the audience at those induction ceremonies? My basement or yours?

    Comment by HeyNow — July 21, 2010 @ 1:14 pm

  12. That depends. Does this fictional Rivera still have the real Rivera’s numbers, and the same for Wagner?

    I feel like there is a slight implication here that Rivera and Wagner are comparable pitcher, but Rivera is only so lauded because he plays for the Yankees. If that is not your point, I apologize, but they aren’t comparable. At all.

    If you want to re-write this paragraph with “Hoffman” and “Padres” instead of “Rivera” and “Yankees”, we’d have something to talk about.

    Comment by Steve — July 21, 2010 @ 1:18 pm

  13. I just hope people notice he’s the greatest left handed reliever in baseball history. Hall of Fame voters latch on to meaningless things like that.

    Comment by Brandon — July 21, 2010 @ 1:22 pm

  14. It doesn’t have to be a dry, boring event. Statistics have been celebrated in the game for over 100 years, albeit not the right ones. Plus, awards and recognition matter to the players and so it might breed a different approach (like Grienke and FIP).

    Comment by Piccamo — July 21, 2010 @ 1:30 pm

  15. Why are they not comparable “at all?” They’re nearly identical in ERA, WHIP, FIP, xFIP, K/BB–the differences are in health and usage. Which is significant of course, and accounts for the difference in career IP and the subsequent gap in WAR, WPA/LI, etc.

    There’s no doubt that makes Rivera the more valuable pitcher, but I don’t buy the notion that Wagner isn’t even in Rivera’s league.

    Comment by Brandon — July 21, 2010 @ 1:38 pm

  16. I think he will just be taking up the spot of a starting pitcher who is inherently more valuable to his team. (/sarcasm)

    Comment by PJ — July 21, 2010 @ 1:39 pm

  17. Because we’re talking about a Hall of Fame resume, in other words, career value. So, yes, health and usage are what make them “not comparable”.

    I agree that Wagner has Hall of Fame rate stats, but that’s not the context of the conversation we were having.

    Didn’t mean to slight Wagner, he’s the best of the “mortals”. But when Rivera has racked up 50% more WAR, that puts them in different classes.

    Comment by Steve — July 21, 2010 @ 1:46 pm

  18. No, no he is not.

    Comment by NEPP — July 21, 2010 @ 1:52 pm

  19. Thesis: Most relievers, even elite relievers, are just failed starters. Discuss.

    Comment by NEPP — July 21, 2010 @ 1:55 pm

  20. 0.999 career whip. 12 SO/9. He’s got my vote.

    Comment by Billy — July 21, 2010 @ 2:05 pm

  21. Most 2b are failed shortstops.

    Comment by Billy — July 21, 2010 @ 2:15 pm

  22. Shoes have less mercury.

    Comment by Matt — July 21, 2010 @ 2:22 pm

  23. And most 1b are failed 3b. Well, a fair number at least.

    Comment by Matt — July 21, 2010 @ 2:26 pm

  24. I like the argument in the block quote…”There are other reasons to dismiss him, though. No World Series (also not his fault), and an 8.71 playoff ERA. In his only League Championship Series, in 2006 with the Mets, Wagner’s ERA was 16.88.”

    Not my fault either, so NO.

    Comment by neuter_your_dogma — July 21, 2010 @ 2:46 pm

  25. I say no, too. I wish we had WPAR instead of just WPA. Then it would be easier to see how much less value a reliever has. Sutter’s election was a mistake that I would hate to perpetuate.

    It may not be Wagner’s fault that his teams didn’t make the postseason, but postseason performance does count much more than it used to, due to the league playoffs. Before the league playoffs, you could make a convincing argument that just getting into the World Series via a regular season performance is enough to judge a player. Now, it only makes your team one of eight to potentially make it to the World Series.

    I think people’s attitudes about postseason contributions are going to have to change for Hall of Fame consideration. They have to be considered as part of the record, IMO.

    Comment by studes — July 21, 2010 @ 3:14 pm

  26. If this is his final year, I put his chances of making the HOF at about 10%. If he plays until he is 43 or so like Hoffman and probably Rivera, I think he will have a pretty good chance. I can’t think of another player still playing at a very high level who chose to retire in such a situation. Anybody have a historical example?

    Comment by Griggs — July 21, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

  27. Using the nth best season of WAR approach (http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/index.php/historical-war-war-graphs/) and the WAR totals on Fangraphs, Wagner only has 1 season of WAR greater than 2.4 while Mariano has 6. Neither of them match up with the median HOF based on their best seasons, but Rivera begins to catch the median around his 10th season.

    Comment by priv8pete — July 21, 2010 @ 3:20 pm

  28. Hey, that’s my standard issue retort to this comment. *grin*

    It may be true that relievers are failed starters. My perspective is “BFD!” and “Who really gives a crap?” Seriously, who really gives a crap other than someone trying to sound more important?

    Would we ever feel the need to point out that Ray Lewis is failed running back? Would we ever suggest that Chase Utley is just a failed SS (there are likely LOTS of guys that are quite literally failed SS as prospects). FWIW, Mark McGwire was also a failed starting pitcher (literally). *grin*

    When you get to elite specialists/closers, one should shift the emphasis from “failed starter” to “dominant specialist”. Nobody makes fun of Michael Johnson because he’s not a good marathoner. Same deal with closers. He does what he does and does it very well.

    Closers usually throw very hard, and ONE outstanding out pitch. Starters require more than that. Closers also have differences physically (perhaps) and mentally (definately). They’re different animals. Think “Pit Bull” and “Saluki”. Different dogs for different purposes.

    Loogys/roogys usually have one very effective pitch against same-handed batters combined with a mechanical delivery that makes them very effective at what they are asked to do.

    Fine, Rivera is a failed starter. Think he, the Yanks, or their fans, really give a poop? Is that “failed starter” situation suppossed to be some type of insult? I don’t get it. Think when Broxton blows away a hitter and the batter walks back to the dugout thinking “So what, he’s just a failed starter anyway.”? Hell, no.

    Relievers as failed starters makes about as much sense as how some folks think “baseball players are just failed football players”.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — July 21, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

  29. “Do journalists like short baseball players?”

    The 2008 AL MVP says yes.

    Comment by hank — July 21, 2010 @ 3:25 pm

  30. Nuh-uh.

    He’s been a dominant closer in his era. But, I’m not sure we (or the HoF) really know how to evaluate relievers, or how to evaluate relievers in this era of high specialization. IMO, one basically either needs to be the best at the position, or bring something new (revolutionary) to the position, at this particular point to get in.

    We’re talking about a specialist here. So, we need to have some type of criteria, lest we start putting in the best loogy and the best PH’er, etc. I think one basically needs to be a career stat leader or a post-season force, at this specific point in time as a specialist to gain entrance in the HoF.

    That may change as the closer role becomes more “evaluatable” or metrics that exmaine closers become more commonly used.

    Comment by CircleChange11 — July 21, 2010 @ 3:30 pm

  31. It seems to me that the debate is really whether Modern relievers deserve enshrinement and if you believe they do, Wagner is as deserving as anyone besides Rivera. Neither Hoffman nor Franco pitched as well by better metrics. His innings total is far lower than Gossage and Fingers but dramatically less than Rivera or Hoffman. Total WAR will not be nearly HoF standards in comparison to starters or position players because relievers simply are as valuable. As such, you could argue that only truly special “closers” belong- in which, Rivera is the ONLY one of this era deserving. As great as Wagner and Hoffman have been at times their not so crucial to winning as players who simply play more. Personally, I would only vote for Rivera.

    Comment by Matt S — July 21, 2010 @ 3:32 pm

  32. I’ve always thought that postseason has weighed too heavily among the voters. They definitely consider it part of the record as far as I can tell.

    Comment by Griggs — July 21, 2010 @ 3:36 pm

  33. Will Clark?

    Comment by Steve — July 21, 2010 @ 3:39 pm

  34. Yes. I think you’re right.

    The question is MORE about whether a guy that pitches 50 IP a year is “HoF eligible”. That likely is the biggest issue.

    As I mentioned before the guys that are in the HoF, either brought something new to the position (splitter, insane accuracy, etc) or have career stat leader numbers (Hoffman), or are post-season giants (Rivera).

    Comment by CircleChange11 — July 21, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

  35. Shoes are not that bad tasting. I’ve tried it myself.
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-ymyiRXCszc

    Comment by Werner Herzog — July 21, 2010 @ 3:59 pm

  36. Other than post season numbers Steve (and I’ll admit, that performing in the post season is a HUGE part of Rivera’s mystique and excellence), but looking at purely regular season numbers the two are much more comparable that you appear to be giving him credit for. Take a look at Wagner throughout his career, he has pretty much been an untouchable, automatic save, K machine (in the regular season).

    Comment by Mr. Sanchez — July 21, 2010 @ 4:21 pm

  37. the WAR numbers are regular season only and Rivera has 50% more. huge, huge gap.

    Yes, I concede that Wagner has fantastic rate stats and has had an excellent, possibly HoF career.

    My point was NOT to diss Wagner, at all. If we’re opening the doors to non-Rivera modern closers, then I think he should be right next to Hoffman, if not ahead.

    My point was more about just how INSANELY good Rivera is.

    Comment by Steve — July 21, 2010 @ 4:31 pm

  38. clemens did it a few times.

    Comment by gee — July 21, 2010 @ 4:33 pm

  39. Thanks for the WC suggestion. I don’t recall the details of his retirement but even assuming 5 more years of his final year production would leave him short of 400 HR and I don’t think we will see any 1B of that era make the HOF with that kind of #. Helton fans may feel he will be an exception but that is for a future discussion. So IMO, Clark was not on a HOF track at the time of his retirement as it appears Wagner will be.

    Comment by Griggs — July 21, 2010 @ 4:34 pm

  40. Mike Mussina.

    Comment by Kevin S. — July 21, 2010 @ 5:02 pm

  41. Good one, except I think Mussina will make it anyway.

    Comment by Griggs — July 21, 2010 @ 5:21 pm

  42. But! But! But! Wagner is a bum! Anyone that is not Mariano Rivera does not exist! He doesn’t have 500 saves! He played for the Mets! He blew some saves!(Sarcasm)

    Comment by Brian — July 21, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

  43. Using the BR Play Index, Wagner is 4th in WPA/LI among guys who pitched from 1950-2010 and had 80% games in relief and At least 500 Innings Pitched. Here is the top 10 along with their IP

    Mariano Rivera ***** 29.514 ***** 1125.2
    Hoyt Wilhelm ***** 26.833 ***** 2254.1
    Trevor Hoffman ***** 19.176 ***** 1072
    Billy Wagner ***** 17.525 ***** 873.2
    Rich Gossage ***** 15.123 ***** 1809.1
    Rollie Fingers ***** 14.976 ***** 1701.1
    Kent Tekulve ***** 14.36 ***** 1436.2
    Tom Henke ***** 14.157 ***** 789.2
    Tug McGraw ***** 13.555 ***** 1514.2
    Jesse Orosco ***** 13.333 ***** 1295.1

    He looks good. I really don’t know if it is enough but not having ever thought about it before, I think he deserves consideration

    Comment by Cyril Morong — July 21, 2010 @ 6:29 pm

  44. For all guys with 200+ saves through 2009 (39), here is the top 10 in RSAA/IP. That is runs saved above average and is park adjusted

    Mariano Rivera ***** 0.255045872
    Billy Wagner ***** 0.213634181
    Francisco Rodriguez ***** 0.204160247
    Joe Nathan ***** 0.17810219
    Francisco Cordero ***** 0.172628305
    Tom Henke ***** 0.162189559
    Troy Percival ***** 0.160971477
    John Wetteland ***** 0.155555556
    Dan Quisenberry ***** 0.141884767
    Trevor Hoffman ***** 0.141074856

    Comment by Cyril Morong — July 21, 2010 @ 6:33 pm

  45. Coming into this year, Wagner was 17th all-time in strikeout-to-walk ratio relative to the league average for guys with 800+ IP. He had a ratio of 3.93 while the league average was 1.97, rounding off to a rate of 200. Vance is best at 239

    Comment by Cyril Morong — July 21, 2010 @ 6:37 pm

  46. Unfortunately, he only comes in 7th or 8th among his contemporaries, which likely hurts him (since HOF voters apparently adjust for era by comparing players to other outliers, not the mean). Regardless though, he was probably two seasons away from the “Magic Number” of wins, so that’s why I listed him.

    Comment by Kevin S. — July 21, 2010 @ 6:40 pm

  47. For guys with 200+ Saves, he has given up 78.6% as many HRs as the league average. That puts him 20th out of 39, so just in the middle pack. Rivera is first, allowing 44.4% as many HRs as the league average

    Comment by Cyril Morong — July 21, 2010 @ 6:49 pm

  48. I eagerly await the election of the first LOOGY to the HoF.

    Dan Plesac is standing by as we speak.

    Comment by NEPP — July 21, 2010 @ 7:00 pm

  49. Thanks for the info. I’m not sure but I believe only Lidge has a higher K/IP rate. (12.1 KG rate for Lidge and 11.9 for Wagner)

    Comment by Griggs — July 21, 2010 @ 7:34 pm

  50. You are right for 500+ IP, but for 800 IP Wagner is first. Randy Johnson is 2nd at 10.61

    Comment by Cyril Morong — July 21, 2010 @ 7:41 pm

  51. Out of all the modern closers, I’d say Rivera is a sure thing HoF and maybe Hoffman. Otherwise, none of them should be in.

    I like a smaller Hall, not a Hall of Very Good. Bad enough Jim Rice was put in.

    Comment by NEPP — July 21, 2010 @ 9:06 pm

  52. “… lest we start putting in the best loogy and the best PH’er, etc…”

    Really? The slippery slope argument?

    Billy Wagner has been better than Trevor Hoffman in just about every category that matters (read: not saves). In fact, since 2001 Wagner has been better than every closer not named Rivera.

    I have a feeling this is going to turn into a Lou Whitaker/Alan Trammell type thing in that they weren’t Cal Ripken or Ryne Sandberg.

    Comment by Matt — July 21, 2010 @ 11:28 pm

  53. But! But! But! Jimmy Rice was clearly better than anybody else!

    Comment by Mike Francesa — July 22, 2010 @ 12:21 am

  54. Most…arcane…stat…ever.

    For guys with shoe sizes 8 1/2 to 11, Dustin Pedroia ranks 64th all-time in triples during day games in the Mountain Time Zone.

    Comment by Jason B — July 22, 2010 @ 9:53 am

  55. FEARED!!!

    Comment by Not David — July 22, 2010 @ 10:17 am

  56. Koufax won 27 in ’66, his last year…

    Comment by george — July 22, 2010 @ 11:41 am

  57. Koufax’s elbow was also falling apart. He retired for injury reasons.

    Comment by Kevin S. — July 22, 2010 @ 11:55 am

  58. Last time I checked, Koufax is in the HOF. The guy I’m looking for is not in the HOF and is very unlikely to get in.

    Comment by Griggs — July 22, 2010 @ 12:14 pm

  59. Can we get past this bias against specialists? Obviously the average reliever doesn’t deserve enshrinement, but closers are the kings of the bullpen. If they are truly great at their job and are at the top of their respective class (relievers), why shouldn’t they be enshrined? Because they weren’t as important as a 1B or CF or SP? Are they an integral part of the game? Yes, they are. Would the Yankees have been as good without Mo? Would the Astros have won the Central 4 times without Wags? 3 of those times they won by 5 or fewer games (once they won by 1.5 and once they won a tiebreaker). Take away Wags and insert a replacement-level closer and see if the Astros win the Central.

    The only question that should matter is this: was Billy Wagner significantly better than his contemporaries? Yes, he was. 3 of the top 5 in saves are still pitching (Mo, Hoff, and Wags). And if you feel Mo and Hoff deserve to be in, then Wags does as well. He was more dominant than Hoffman, who has the advantage of playing longer (and it’s not a durability issue since Wags is choosing to retire while Hoffman hangs on just for a milestone).

    Closers are now a major part of baseball and should be represented in the HOF.

    Comment by Nick — July 22, 2010 @ 1:09 pm

  60. Also don’t forget this little piece of information that perhaps is the best support for Wagner in the HOF:

    Only Wagner, Rivera and Eckersley(as a reliever) have a WHIP under 1 for their careers. Hoffman and Wilhelm were very close for their peak 10 year period. Papplebon and Soria are on pace for this as well.

    Comment by Griggs — July 22, 2010 @ 3:24 pm

  61. I have written two blog posts on Jim Rice as a feared hitter

    http://cybermetric.blogspot.com/2009/08/jim-rice-and-hall-of-fame-revisited.html

    http://cybermetric.blogspot.com/2008/12/was-jim-rice-feared-hitter.html

    Comment by Cyril Morong — July 22, 2010 @ 3:47 pm

  62. The one thing that Wagner will ride to the hall on is his left arm. Peter Gammons once called Billy Wagner the greatest left-handed reliever in Baseball History. He’s closing in on the all-time K record for left-handed relievers and he’ll likely pass that before the month is out. With a little luck, he’ll pass John Franco at 424 Saves before season’s end.

    Wagner’s journeyman status only adds to his resume. Houston was psycho for trading him, he absolutely dominated for the Phillies, he made a few mistakes in New York, but he still maintained HOF worthy stats throughout his stay. He’s a seven-time All-Star, that’s quite an achievement for a right-handed small town kid no taller than 5’9.

    In the end, Wagner won’t be judged by Rivera, and don’t get me started on Hoffman, as consistent as he WAS, he never compared to Wagner. Wagner will be judged against himself, because he’s simply one of a kind.

    Comment by jonatwater — August 11, 2010 @ 12:51 pm

  63. I think Wagner is the second-best reliever of all-time since I place far more value in quality for relievers than quantity. Usage patterns prevented Wagner from racking up innings as he was healthy for the most part. He is second to Rivera in most relevant statistics and I think being the greatest left-handed reliever of all-time will carry weight with the voters, plus I believe he has over 1000 Ks in 818 or so IP. He has his 422 SV for the traditional voters and has his ridiculous ERA+, WHIP, and K rate for the more statistical voters.

    Comment by Anthony — September 6, 2011 @ 2:35 pm

  64. and, thats why his name is Jeffrey Gross

    Comment by Cidron — September 6, 2011 @ 2:47 pm

  65. no, it would be online, duh!

    Comment by Cidron — September 6, 2011 @ 2:49 pm

  66. Relievers are the DH’s of the pitching world. The HOF jus doesnt know how to gauge their importance, and discount them a ton as they arent in the “full game”. However, the modern game has both DH’s and relivers/closers of quality waiting. Edgar Martinez, and Wagner are probably the top candidates awaiting that call from the hall. Will they wait forever or not, who knows.

    Comment by Cidron — September 6, 2011 @ 2:53 pm

  67. Tom Henke

    Comment by TomG — September 6, 2011 @ 2:57 pm

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