Baseball Player Won-Loss Records
Home     List of Articles



Billy Wagner

2020 Hall of Fame Ballot Series: Billy Wagner

Five facts about Billy Wagner: The first two tables below present Billy Wagner's career as measured by Player won-lost records, in and out of context.

Basic Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games pWins pLosses pWORL pWOPA
1995HOU23
1
0.00.00.00.0
1996HOU24
37
4.23.11.71.0
1997HOU25
62
6.05.01.90.8
1998HOU26
58
5.94.82.01.0
1999HOU27
66
7.32.75.34.4
2000HOU28
28
2.54.2-1.1-1.7
2001HOU29
64
6.83.93.72.7
2002HOU30
70
5.93.43.22.3
2003HOU31
78
7.64.44.12.9
2004PHI32
45
3.61.42.62.1
2005PHI33
75
6.73.63.92.9
2006NYN34
70
7.34.04.13.0
2007NYN35
66
5.93.33.32.4
2008NYN36
45
3.52.91.10.5
37
17
0.80.60.30.2
2010ATL38
71
5.53.42.82.0
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
853
79.450.738.926.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
14
0.71.3-0.4-0.6
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
867
80.152.038.525.9


Expected Player Won-Lost Records
Value Decomposition
Season Team Age Games eWins eLosses eWORL eWOPA
1995HOU23
1
0.00.00.00.0
1996HOU24
37
3.83.41.10.4
1997HOU25
62
6.14.92.11.0
1998HOU26
58
5.94.72.11.1
1999HOU27
66
6.53.53.92.9
2000HOU28
28
3.03.7-0.1-0.8
2001HOU29
64
6.14.72.41.3
2002HOU30
70
5.63.72.71.8
2003HOU31
78
7.44.63.72.6
2004PHI32
45
3.11.91.61.2
2005PHI33
75
6.34.03.12.1
2006NYN34
70
6.44.92.41.3
2007NYN35
66
5.04.21.60.7
2008NYN36
45
3.92.51.91.2
37
17
0.90.60.40.2
2010ATL38
71
5.43.52.61.8
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
CAREER (reg. season)
853
75.354.831.218.9
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
PostSeason (career)
14
0.81.2-0.3-0.5
------ ------ ------ ------ ------
COMBINED
867
76.156.030.918.4


This is Billy Wagner's fifth year on the Hall-of-Fame ballot. I have written articles about the Hall-of-Fame candidates every year in which Billy Wagner has been on the BBWAA ballot. Much of these earlier articles are somewhat obsolete due to changes to my Player won-lost records over time. But, for the sake of posterity, these old articles are linked at the end of my general article on Player won-lost records and the Hall of Fame.

Vote Prediction
Billy Wagner has appeared on four Hall-of-Fame ballots. His first three years, his vote total ranged from 45 to 47 (10.2% - 11.1%). Last year, his vote total increased from 47 (11.1%) to 71 (16.7%). Wagner was also named more often than any played except for Scott Rolen as a player who voters would have voted for but for the 10-player limit, according to Ryan Thibodeaux's wonderful Hall-of-Fame tracker.

All indications are that Wagner could be poised to see another surge in voting support this year. I'll be optimistic for Wagner and predict that his increase this year will double his increase from last year (which was 24 votes), which would push him up to about 27.9%.

Player Won-Lost Records and Billy Wagner
Relief pitchers are a somewhat difficult position to assess in relation to the Hall of Fame. By most pure sabermetric measures (e.g., WAR), the number of relief pitchers who deserve to be in the Hall of Fame is tiny - probably just one. But there are, instead, eight players in the Hall of Fame who are, I believe, generally thought of as relief pitchers. Of these eight pitchers, five of them held the career saves record at some point in their career and three of them won at least one Cy Young award. Only Goose Gossage failed to do either (Rollie Fingers did both).

Billy Wagner did neither of these things. His 422 career saves were the fifth-most in major-league history when he retired (they're sixth now) and Wagner's best finish in Cy Young voting was fourth place in 1999 (4-1, 39 saves, 1.57 ERA and 124 K in 74.2 IP).

The best statistical case for Billy Wagner - as measured by Player won-lost records - is to focus on eWins and to compare Wagner strictly to other relief pitchers. And it is a striking case. Here are the top 10 players in career eWins over positional average (eWOPA) earned exclusively as a relief pitcher.

Top 10 Relief Pitchers, ranked by career eWOPA, RP only
Player eWins eLosses eWOPA
1Mariano Rivera112.767.242.3
2Billy Wagner75.154.818.1
3Trevor Hoffman91.271.117.5
4Rich Gossage109.589.417.0
5Rollie Fingers103.785.315.8
6Joe Nathan61.144.714.5
7Jonathan Papelbon59.043.613.6
8Tom Henke62.347.013.6
9Kent Tekulve81.666.013.4
10Hoyt Wilhelm107.992.713.0


Generally speaking, relief aces tend to look better in pWins than in eWins. This is largely due to the nature of their use, especially in modern baseball where closers overwhelmingly enter games only when their team is leading. Like most closers, Billy Wagner earned more pWins than eWins, but the gap between the two is unusually low for Wagner. Hence, modifying the previous table to rank relief pitchers by pWOPA instead of eWOPA pushes Wagner down the list somewhat.

Top 10 Relief Pitchers, ranked by career pWOPA, RP only
Player pWins pLosses pWOPA
1Mariano Rivera122.557.461.6
2Trevor Hoffman100.162.235.1
3Lee Smith109.175.930.0
4Frankie Rodriguez89.757.529.4
5Joe Nathan68.437.329.0
6Rich Gossage115.483.528.6
7Jonathan Papelbon66.436.228.1
8Billy Wagner79.350.626.5
9Craig Kimbrel56.728.526.4
10John Franco103.174.425.8


I leave it as an exercise to the reader to determine what these two tables say about Billy Wagner's Hall-of-Fame case.

Article last updated: January 1, 2020

2020 Hall of Fame Ballot Series




Home     List of Articles