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Clemens, Wagner eyeing surge on HOF ballot

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

HOUSTON -- Jeff Bagwell's induction to the Hall of Fame this year raised the Astros' profile in Cooperstown and provided a goal for the franchise's succeeding stars to pursue.

It's clear what Roger Clemens and Billy Wagner need from Baseball Writers' Association of America Hall of Fame voters to approach Bagwell's standard. Clemens hopes that his support will continue to grow. Wagner must wish for a semblance of the momentum Clemens has enjoyed.

HOUSTON -- Jeff Bagwell's induction to the Hall of Fame this year raised the Astros' profile in Cooperstown and provided a goal for the franchise's succeeding stars to pursue.

It's clear what Roger Clemens and Billy Wagner need from Baseball Writers' Association of America Hall of Fame voters to approach Bagwell's standard. Clemens hopes that his support will continue to grow. Wagner must wish for a semblance of the momentum Clemens has enjoyed.

2018 Hall of Fame ballot

The pair of former Astros have taken divergent paths toward the 2018 Hall of Fame ballot, which was released Monday.

Having endured the talk of performance-enhancing drug use that affected his reputation, Clemens has seen support for his Hall of Fame candidacy increase by virtually 50 percent in recent years. After Clemens garnered 37.5 percent of the vote in 2015, his backing rose to 45.2 in '16 and reached 54.1 this year. A 75 percent total is necessary for Hall induction.

Though Clemens spent only three of his 24 Major League seasons with the Astros (2004-06), he displayed vintage form for his hometown team.

The right-hander, who grew up near Houston in Katy, fashioned a lifetime 354-184 mark while compiling a National League-best .818 winning percentage in 2004 (18-4 record). That was enough to earn Clemens his seventh Cy Young Award, an all-time Major League high. Clemens excelled again in '05, when he recorded a league-best 1.87 ERA.

Unlike Clemens, Wagner's electorate has remained flat. He drew 10.5 percent of the vote in 2016 and 10.2 in '17.

The overpowering left-hander amassed the first 225 of his 422 saves, a total which ranks sixth all time, for the Astros after they selected him in the first round (12th overall) of the 1993 Draft.

Wagner reached or exceeded 30 saves five times for Houston from 1995-2003, a span in which he made three NL All-Star teams. He also pitched for the Phillies, Mets, Red Sox and Braves in his 16-year career.

Other former Astros appearing on the ballot include right-hander Curt Schilling (1991), infielder Jeff Kent (2003-04), left fielder Carlos Lee (2007-12) and closer Brad Lidge (2002-07).

Results from this year's balloting are scheduled to be announced on Jan. 24 on MLB Network.

Chris Haft has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

Houston Astros