The following article is part of my ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2014 Hall of Fame ballot. Originally written for the 2013 election, it has been updated to reflect last year’s voting results as well as additional research and changes in WAR. For a detailed introduction to JAWS, please see here. For the schedule and an explanation of how posts on holdover candidates will be presented, see here.
Roger Clemens has a reasonable claim as the greatest pitcher of all time. Cy Young, Christy Mathewson, Walter Johnson and Grover Cleveland Alexander spent all or most of their careers in the Deadball Era, before the home run was a real threat. All four pitched while the color line was still in effect, barring some of the game’s most talented players from participating. Sandy Koufax and Tom Seaver pitched when scoring levels were much lower, and pitchers held a greater advantage. Koufax, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson didn’t sustain their greatness for nearly as long. Greg Maddux didn’t dominate hitters to nearly the same extent.
Clemens spent 24 years in the majors, and racked up a total of seven Cy Young awards, not to mention an MVP award. He won 354 games, led his leagues in the Triple Crown categories (wins, strikeouts and ERA) a total of 16 times, and helped his teams to six pennants and a pair of world championships.