His appearance in 2024 marks his ninth appearance on a Hall of Famer ballot and, per the rules, everybody gets ten attempts from the baseball writers. But, Wagner, a seven-time All-Star, fell five votes short of election in 2024. That means 2025 will be his last chance to be inducted into the Hall of Fame by the BBWAA ballot.
Can Wagner be elected to the Hall of Fame in 2025?
Next year, two big names will be added to the Hall of Fame ballot: CC Sabathia and Ichiro Suzuki. Only Ichiro is expected to be a no-doubt first ballot Hall of Famer. Which means Wagner will have a superb chance to get those five votes and become one of the few relievers to have a plaque at the Hall of Fame in Cooperstown.
The Hall Of Fame
Like with other American sports, baseball honors its greats with a Hall of Fame placement once their career ends. Many think that Billy Wagner is one of them for his eight-year run with the Houston Astros as one of MLB’s best left-handed relief pitchers. Since Wagner’s departure, the Astros found more recent success by becoming the 2022 World Series champs. Now, sports betting pundits are giving them tepid 8/1 odds of doing it again in 2024. For Wagner however, his playing days are behind him. Instead, he’s waiting to be judged by the Hall of Fame’s voters for the work he’s already put in on the mound.
As decided by the Baseball Writers Association of America (BBWAA), every Hall of Famer hopeful needs to have been retired for at least five seasons, after having played ten in the major leagues. Getting over 5% of the vote keeps a player on the official ballot, where a candidate needs at least 75% to be elected.
Opening on the 12th of June, 1939, the Baseball Hall of Fame is one of the sport’s most historic institutions. Before the Class of 2024 joins, it has welcomed 343 people, from players and managers to pioneers and umpires. In 2023, it welcomed St. Louis Cardinals third baseman Scott Rolen. In December, former manager Jim Leyland was elected, and will be inducted next summer in Cooperstown.
2024’s Hall of Fame Front Runner
In the 2023 Hall of Fame balloting, three men pulled ahead with over 60% of the votes. The first was Rolen, who was elected, while second was Colorado Rockies mainstay Todd Helton at 72.2%. Billy Wagner finished third, trailing Helton at 68.1%.
Having built up a 17-year career with the Rockies, Helton had a long and much-decorated career as the team’s first baseman between 1997 and 2013. This, and his runner-up spot in last year’s ballot, has made him the favorite for the 2024 induction since he just needs to make a 3% improvement on last year’s votes.
Helton hit the ballot in 2019 with an impressive 16.5% of the vote share. In five short years, he has climbed to the nearly 75% induction threshold. He still has another five years to appear on the ballot, so it’s a near certainty that Helton will become a Hall of Famer regardless of the 2024 results.
Helton, Joe Mauer and Adrian Beltre were elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2024.
Wagner’s Chances In 2024 & 2025
In contrast, Billy Wagner first entered the Hall of Fame ballot in 2016 where he gathered 10.5% of the vote. Support has mounted more recently, as the All-Star closer nears the maximum ballot appearances that a player is allowed. From 46.4% in 2021, it shot up to 51% in 2022 and then 68.1% in 2023. If that dramatic 17% increase between 2022 and 2023 holds, it would put Wagner into Cooperstown.
The biggest thing standing in Billy the Kid’s way is Helton, and the fact that Wagner will be eligible for the 2025 Hall of Fame induction. Being a clear favorite, Helton may sweep the 2024 nomination and leave Wagner as the runner-up. That would leave him with great chances of a 2025 induction. That said, new players are added to the ballot every year, so there’s no guarantee that Wagner will pass that 75% mark in 2024 or 2025 if a newcomer to the ballot steals his thunder.