Former Mets closer Billy Wagner received just 10.2 percent of votes and will miss out on being elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame, it was revealed during Wednesday's announcement.
Wagner, who received 10.5 percent during his first year on the ballot, again fell well below the 75-percent threshold needed for an induction, but will still remain on the ballot next year, doubling the five percent needed to stay on.
In 16 seasons, during which he pitched for the Astros, Mets, Phillies, Red Sox, and Braves, Wagner collected 422 saves with a 2.31 ERA and 1,196 strikeouts in 903 innings.
The opposition hit just .187 against him, while striking out 33 percent of the time, which are both the most all-time among pitchers who have thrown at least 800 innings during their careers.
Wagner pitched four seasons with the Mets, with whom he signed a four-year, $42 million contract after the 2005 season. He appeared in 183 games, had 101 saves and a 2.37 ERA (2.87 FIP), while striking out 29 percent of the batters he faced.
April 29, 2007; Washington, DC, USA; New York Mets pitcher (13) Billy Wagner pitches against the Washington Nationals in the ninth inning at RFK stadium in Washington, DC. The New York Mets defeated the Washington Nationals 1-0. Mandatory Credit: James Lang-USA TODAY Sports Copyright Â© James Lang
In September 2008, at 38 years old, it was announced that Wagner needed Tommy John surgery on his pitching elbow and would be unable to pitch for at least 12 months. He initially told New York reporters that he might retire instead of pushing on at age 39. However, he chose to have surgery and pitch one more season on his terms.
Wagner returned to the Mets in late August, 2009, to make two relief appearances.
However, instead of picking up his $8 million option for 2010, the Mets traded him (and the $1 million buyout for his option) to the Red Sox. As a free agent, he then signed a one-year deal with the Braves before retiring in 2010.
"I really enjoyed being there, I loved all that New York gave to me," Wagner told the Daily News in 2009, speaking about his time with the Mets. "There's no animosity, there's no, 'You should have kept me.' I'm totally happy with the situation, and what they helped me with."
Wagner now lives with his wife and four children in Charlottesville, Virginia, where he's the high school baseball coach at the Miller School of Albemarle.
In terms of being a Hall of Fame pitcher, Billy is right on the line. However, when it comes to being an amazing story and an inspiring underdog, he's among the best of all time...
Wagner was born in Marion, VA, a small town of 6,000 people in the Shenandoah Mountains. His parents divorced when he was a child, after which he moved in and out of homes, hunted for food and lived on food stamps and welfare. He was right-handed, but -- while in a cast after breaking his arm twice -- he taught himself to throw as a lefty.
May 08, 2010; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Atlanta Braves pitcher Billy Wagner (13) delivers to the plate in the ninth inning against the Philadelphia Phillies at Citizens Bank Park. The Braves defeated the Phillies 4-1. Mandatory Credit: Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports
By the time he was in high school, MLB scouts started hearing of his 85-mph fastball. However, at just 5' 3", 130 pounds, and pitching in a town in the far reaches of Virginia, they didn't travel to see him in person. In 1990, he borrowed money from family, scrapped together financial aid and got himself in to Ferrum College, a Division III school with a baseball program.
He reached 5' 9" and 170 pounds as a high school senior and was getting more drive off the mound, while throwing in the mid 90s. Wagner filed for the draft after his junior year of college having already set single-season NCAA records for strikeouts per nine innings and fewest hits allowed per nine innings. The Astros selected him in the first round of the draft in June 1993.
Wagner made his major league debut on Sept. 13, 1995 against the Mets at Shea Stadium. He hit 100 mph with his fastball. He rejoined the Astros (with manager Terry Collins) in 1996 and replaced Todd Jones as the team's closer. He converted nine saves in 13 chances during his first full season on his way to becoming one of the game's most dominant closers.
Again, it's not my call whether he gets in to the Hall of Fame. And in debating his worthiness I can see it both ways. The thing is, Hall or no Hall, he's still an awesome story, an incredible talent, and one of my favorite pitchers to ever watch in a Mets uniform...