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Case for the Baseball Hall of Fame: Billy Wagner

Should a closer be in the Hall of Fame? Should Billy Wagner join them? Should he go in as an Astro?

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William Edward Wagner, 44, was one of the most dominant closers in baseball history. The Houston Astros drafted with the 12th overall pick in the 1993 amateur draft out of Ferrum College.

Wagner was unconventional player standing at 5 feet 10 inches but sporting an electric 100 mile per hour fastball. The leftie was a seven-time all-star (1999, 2001, 2003, 2005, 2007, 2008 and 2010) and was the National League Relief Man of the Year in 1999. He pitched on seven playoff teams including four with the Astros (1997, 1998, 1999, 2001), one with the New York Mets (2006), and one each with the Atlanta Braves (2010) and Boston Red Sox (2009).

Wagner posted a 47-40 record with a 2.31 ERA in 903 innings pitched with 232 earned runs allowed, 1,196 strikeouts, 300 walks, 2.73 FIP, 0.998 WHIP, 11.9 strikeouts per nine rate, 3.99 strikeout-to-walk rate, and a .187 batting average against.

The most important stat for closer is of course the save. Wagner has 422, the fifth-most in MLB history. He has more than already elected Hall of Famers Dennis Eckersley, Rollie Fingers, Goose Gossage, Bruce Sutter, and Hoyt Wilhelm.

The question is really do you think closer deserve to be in the hall. The closer has become the most-specialized position in baseball -- Wagner is on the forefront of that specialization.  Wagner pitched 903 innings, half the number of Wilhelm, Gossage and Fingers.

No matter what happens, Wagner was at the head of one the most dominant bullpens in baseball with Brad Lidge and Octavo Dotel pitching the seventh, eighth, and ninth.