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Kent, Wagner highlight Mets on 2020 HOF ballot

@AnthonyDiComo
November 18, 2019

NEW YORK -- If Jeff Kent or Billy Wagner are going to make a push for Cooperstown, they'll need to do so relatively soon. Kent and Wagner highlight those with Mets ties on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot, which the Baseball Writers' Association of America released on Monday. Kent,

NEW YORK -- If Jeff Kent or Billy Wagner are going to make a push for Cooperstown, they'll need to do so relatively soon.

Kent and Wagner highlight those with Mets ties on the 2020 Hall of Fame ballot, which the Baseball Writers' Association of America released on Monday. Kent, who spent four and a half of his 17 big league seasons with New York, set a new high with 18.1 percent of the vote last year in his sixth time on the ballot. If he wants to make the Hall, he'll need to more than quadruple that total in one of his final four years of eligibility.

2020 Hall of Fame ballot

Players become eligible for the BBWAA ballot five years after their last career game and remain so for 10 years (provided they continue to appear on at least 5 percent of ballots). To gain entry to Cooperstown, a player must appear on at least 75 percent of ballots in any given year. The Hall will announce its 2020 entrants on Jan. 21.

Complete Hall of Fame coverage

Wagner has never made it onto more than 16.7 percent of ballots in his four years of eligibility, though he may have a better case than Kent, the 2000 National League MVP Award-winning second baseman who played for the Mets, Giants and four other teams. Wagner has:

• The sixth-most saves (422) in Major League history

• The seventh-highest Wins Above Replacement total (27.8, per Baseball Reference calculations) among pitchers who spent their career primarily as a reliever

• The highest strikeout rate (11.9 per nine innings) in history among pitchers -- both starters and relievers -- with at least 700 career innings

• More strikeouts (1,196) and a lower opponents' batting average (.187) than Mariano Rivera, who was a unanimous first-ballot Hall of Famer last year

• The second-lowest career ERA (2.31) and park-adjusted ERA+ (187) among relievers with at least 700 innings, trailing only Rivera in both

Wagner spent just three-plus years of his 16-season career in Queens, but he had an outsized impact in the borough, closing games for the 2006-08 teams. Like Kent, he may need to wait until later in his ballot cycle to receive more significant Hall of Fame support. It's not implausible to think that Wagner, who spent the majority of his career with Houston, could make it to Cooperstown at some point in the next decade.

Other onetime Mets on the 2020 ballot include Gary Sheffield, Bobby Abreu, J.J. Putz, Jose Valverde and Heath Bell, but they spent only small portions of their careers in Flushing. All but Sheffield, who received 13.6 percent of votes last winter in his sixth year of eligibility, are first-timers on the ballot.

Even if any of the aforementioned players do make it to Cooperstown, none of them -- including Wagner and Kent -- would likely go into the Hall with a Mets cap. The next Met who could do so is new manager Carlos Beltrán, who will first be eligible to enter in 2023. Beltrán spent more time in Flushing than anywhere else as a player, hitting 149 of his 435 career home runs there.

Anthony DiComo has covered the Mets for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter @AnthonyDiComo, Instagram and Facebook.