Note: This page links to 1990s pitcher Paul Wagner. For the former college coach, also from Wisconsin, click here.
Paul Alan Wagner
- Bats Right, Throws Right
- Height 6' 1", Weight 202 lb.
- School Illinois State University
- High School Washington High School
- Debut July 26, 1992
- Final Game May 7, 1999
- Born November 14, 1967 in Milwaukee, WI USA
Paul Wagner pitched 12 years in professional baseball, including part or all of eight seasons in the major leagues. He once led the National League in losses and topped 100 innings three times in the majors.
1989-1992: Minor leagues
After signing, Paul was assigned to the Welland Pirates, where he was 4-5 with a 4.47 ERA and 15 walks in 50 IP. The next year, Paul was moved to the bullpen. He went 7-7 with 4 saves in 35 outings (one start), striking out 71 in 72 innings for the 1990 Augusta Pirates. Promoted to the Salem Buccaneers, he had a 0-1, 2 save record in 4 starts and 7 relief appearances, allowing 39 hits (7 homers) and 17 walks in 36 innings.
Paul returned to the starting rotation in 1991 and Salem manager Stan Cliburn said that he felt Wagner showed more endurance in that role, given extra rest between appearances. Paul said that he had always wanted to start and felt he did well in that role. Wagner had a 11-6, 3.12 record, allowing 123 hits in 158 2/3 innings.
The 24-year-old spent most of 1992 with the Carolina Mudcats and went 6-6 with a 3.03 ERA, allowing 104 hits and fanning 101 in 121 2/3 innings. Moving to the Buffalo Bisons, he only had a 3-3, 5.49 line, allowing 51 hits and striking out just 19 in 39 1/3 innings. He made six appearances with the 1992 Pirates, allowing only run in 13 innings, winning two games. With Pittsburgh, he made one start and five relief appearances, while he had been only used as a starter in the minors that year.
1993-94: A couple decent years in the majors
Paul spent all of the 1993 season in Pittsburgh, being used as a reliever early in the campaign but being moved into the rotation in early June. He was 2-3 with two saves and a 5.15 ERA out of the bullpen and went 6-5 with a 3.96 ERA as a starting pitcher. Only Steve Cooke had a better year as a Pirate starter. In 1994, the 26-year-old hurler again both started and relieved, moving to the bullpen in late July after starting early in the year. Wagner had a 5-8, 4.84 line as a starter and 2-0, 3.12 when he came in later in the game.
1995-97: Bad luck
Wagner spent most of the 1995 season in the Pittsburgh rotation and had a 4.89 ERA, third among the club's six-most used starters and ahead of Esteban Loaiza and Jon Lieber, who would go on to much better careers. Wagner's 120 strikeouts were second on the club. Wagner got poor support, though, and had a 5-16 record, losing two more games than any other pitcher in the 1995 NL. According to the neutralized stats at the main B-R page, he would have been 9-11 with an average level of run support.
Wagner had the best game of his career that year, throwing 8 2/3 hitless innings and striking out 10 before Andres Galarraga cost him a no-hitter with an infield single. Wagner then struck out Dante Bichette to end the gem.
1996 was another rough year for Wagner in terms of luck. He was 3-0 with a 0.77 ERA after his first three starts and one relief appearance, but suffered two injuries that year and fell off-track, finishing 4-8 with a 5.40 ERA, being limited to 15 starts in the majors.
More health troubles plagued Paul in 1997. He had a good 3.94 ERA in his 14 relief appearances in Pittsburgh, but struggled in 12 rehab appearances with the Mudcats (0-1, 10.13, 25 H, 16 BB, 20 K in 16 IP) and was released by the Bucs. The Milwaukee Brewers signed him and he went 1-0 with a 9.00 ERA in two games for Milwaukee.
1998-2001: Fading away
The veteran pitcher struggled for the 1998 Brewers (1-5, 7.11, 1.76 WHIP) and spent some time with their Louisville Redbirds (1-0, 8.76, 1.78 WHIP) and Beloit Snappers (0-1, 7.20) farm teams, faring poorly at each stop. Milwaukee let him go and the Atlanta Braves signed him. Making eight late appearances for the Richmond Braves, he went 1-0 with a 1.98 ERA.
The Cleveland Indians signed Wagner for the 1999 campaign and he made three early-season appearances with Cleveland, having a 4.15 ERA and 8.30 RA in 4 1/3 innings, picking up one win as well. That finished his MLB career with a 29-45, 3 Sv, 4.83 line and a 88 ERA+.
Signed by the New York Mets in the next off-season, he was injured before the season began and missed the entire year.
In 2001, the Wisconsin native concluded his pro baseball career with a 1-1, 8.10 record in two outings for the Norfolk Tides, allowing 12 hits in 6 2/3 innings pitched, before New York let him go.
In 2007, it was reported that Wagner was working in real estate around Milwaukee, WI.
Sources: "Salem pitcher finds relief in new role as starter" by Ken Mrazik in a 1992 Pittsburgh Press minor league spotlight article, 1988-2002 Baseball Almanacs, The Pittsburgh Pirates Encyclopedia by David Finoli and Bill Ranier, "Where are they now?" in a series on the 1997 Pirates in the 7/9/07 Pittsburgh Post-Gazette