Posted December 30, 2012

JAWS and the 2013 Hall of Fame ballot: Roger Clemens

Boston Red Sox, Hall of Fame, Houston Astros, JAWS, New York Yankees, Roger Clemens
Roger Clemens showed no signs of slowing down in 2004, when he won his seventh and final Cy Young at age 42. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

Roger Clemens showed no signs of slowing down in 2004, when he won his seventh and final Cy Young at age 42. (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images)

The following article is part of my ongoing look at the candidates on the BBWAA 2013 Hall of Fame ballot. For a detailed introduction to JAWS, please see here.

Roger Clemens has a reasonable claim as the greatest pitcher of all time. Cy Young and Christy Mathewson pitched during the Deadball Era, before the home run was a real threat. Those two, Walter Johnson and Pete Alexander, 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 were at a greater advantage. Koufax, Pedro Martinez and Randy Johnson didn’t sustain their dominance 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, ERA) a total of 16 times, and helped his teams to six pennants and a pair of championships.

Alas, whatever claim he may have on such an exalted title is clouded by suspicions that he used performance-enhancing drugs. When those suspicions were voiced via the Mitchell Report in 2007, Clemens took the otherwise unprecedented step of challenging the findings via a Congressional hearing. He nearly painted himself into a legal corner and was subject to a high-profile trial for six counts of perjury, obstruction of justice and making false statements to Congress. After a mistrial in 2011, he was acquitted on all counts last June.

Despite the verdicts, the specter of PEDs isn’t going to leave Clemens’ case anytime soon, but on a Hall of Fame ballot that’s full of hitters with connections to the drugs — Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro, Barry Bonds — it’s worth remembering that the chemical arms race involved pitchers as well, leveling the playing field a lot more than some critics of the aforementioned sluggers would admit.

Pitcher Career Peak JAWS  ERA  ERA+ 
Roger Clemens 133.9 64.0 99.0 354 184 3.12 143
Avg HOF SP 67.9 47.7 57.8

Contrary to legend, Clemens did not emerge whole from the Texas soil. He was born in Dayton, Ohio to parents who separated during his infancy, and he didn’t move to Houston, Texas until high school in 1977. He not only pitched and played first base in high school, he also played defensive end on the football team, and center on the basketball team. After attending San Jacinto College North in 1981, he was drafted by the Mets in the 12th round, but he chose not to sign. Instead, he left for the University of Texas, earning All-America honors twice and pitching the Longhorns to a College World Series championship in 1983. The Red Sox made him the 19th pick of the 1983 draft. (Tim Belcher was chosen first overall, by the Twins, and  Clemens’ Texas teammate Calvin Schiraldi was chosen 27th by the Mets.)

Clemens debuted in the majors less than a year later, on May 15, 1984. Still just 21 years old, he had made a total of just 17 minor league starts across three levels, dominating all of them. He went 9-4 with a 4.32 ERA for the Red Sox, but more impressively, he struck out 8.5 hitters per nine of his 133-1/3 innings, a rate well above the official league leader (Mark Langston, 8.2 per nine) and the rest of the pack. Limited to just 15 starts the following year due to shoulder soreness, he was diagnosed with a torn labrum by a then-obscure orthopedist named Dr. James Andrews, who repaired the tear arthroscopically, a novel treatment for the time.

Eight months later, Clemens was back in action, and at 23, he put together his first outstanding season. In his fourth start, he set a major league record by striking out 20 Mariners; he didn’t walk any, and allowed just three hits and one run. He wound up leading the AL in wins (24) and ERA (2.48) while ranking second in strikeouts (238) and WAR (8.6). That latter mark trailed only Milwaukee’s Teddy Higuera, but Clemens’ edge in the traditional numbers and his role in the Red Sox winning the AL East helped him capture not only his first Cy Young (unanimously, even) but also AL MVP honors. He made three good starts and two lousy ones in the postseason, throwing seven strong innings in Game 7 of the ALCS against the Angels and departing Game 6 of the World Series with a 3-2 lead and just six outs to go until the Red Sox won their first world championship since 1918. Alas, fate intervened in the form of sloppy relief work by Schiraldi (who had been traded to Boston in November 1985) and a groundball through Bill Buckner’s legs.

Clemens followed up by winning 20 games, tossing seven shutouts among his 18 complete games (!) and racking up 9.1 WAR — totals which all led the league —  in taking home a second Cy Young. He struck out a league-leading 291 and spun eight shutouts in 1988, helping the Sox to another AL East title. His 1989 was less notable (a garden-variety 5.3 WAR season), but he followed that up with the first of three straight ERA crowns in 1990; his 1.93 was less than half of the AL’s 3.91 mark. He led the league with 10.3 WAR that year, but finished second to the A’s Bob Welch in the Cy Young voting. Welch had gone 27-6 with a 2.95 ERA — more than a full run higher, in a much more pitcher-friendly park — in a season worth 2.7 WAR. The Red Sox won the AL East, but after throwing six shutout innings in Game 1 of the ALCS against the A’s, Clemens was ejected in the second inning of Game 4 by home plate umpire Terry Cooney, who claimed that the pitcher cursed at him and called him “gutless.” The ejection came in the midst of a three-run rally that would provide all of the offense the A’s needed to complete a four-game sweep.

Clemens won his third Cy Young award in 1991, leading the league in innings (271 1/3), ERA (2.62), strikeouts (241) and WAR (7.1); the award made him the fifth pitcher to take home at least three Cys, after Koufax, Seaver, Jim Palmer and Steve Carlton, and the first to do so before age 30 (he was 29). He finished third in the voting in 1992 after leading again in ERA (2.41) and WAR (8.4).

No pitcher threw more innings than Clemens from 1986 to 1992 (1799-1/3), and no one was within 20 WAR of him during that span; Frank Viola’s 35.5 ranked second to Clemens’ 56.2. High mileage began taking its toll, however. Clemens averaged just 28 starts, 186 innings, 10 wins and 4.3 WAR over the next four seasons, about half the annual value he had generated in that previous seven-year stretch. He served stints on the disabled list in 1993 and 1995, for groin and shoulder injuries, respectively. His final year in Boston, 1996, was actually an outstanding one camouflaged by a 10-13 record and a 3.63 ERA (still a 139 ERA+); he threw 242-2/3 innings, his highest total since 1992, and led the league in strikeouts for the third time with 257. On September 18, in what proved to be his third-to-last start for the Sox, he tied his own major league record by striking out 20 Tigers, and again issued no walks. Despite his ability to consistently fool hitters, Boston GM Dan Duquette opted to let the Clemens depart for the Blue Jays via free agency, famously declaring that the 34-year-old was in “the twilight of his career.”

The extent to which that statement fueled the final decade-plus of Clemens’ career is an issue taken up further below, but sticking to the record as it unfolded at the time, the Rocket signed a three-year, $24.75 million deal, and followed with back-to-back seasons in which he not only won Cy Young awards but also Triple Crowns. His 1997 (21-7, 2.05 ERA, 292 strikeouts, 11.6 WAR) was by far the better of the two seasons, though his 7.8 WAR the following year led the league as well. His rebound caught the eye of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, who had long coveted the now-36-year-old righty. On February 18, 1999, shortly after pitchers and catchers had reported to spring training, the defending world champion Yankees sent David Wells, Graeme Lloyd and Homer Bush to the Blue Jays in exchange for Clemens. Hampered by a hamstring injury, he spent three weeks on the disabled list and posted a 4.60 ERA during the regular season, but he fared better in the postseason, save for an early exit against the Red Sox in the ALCS; his 7-2/3 innings in Game 4 of the World Series against the Braves helped the Yankees complete a sweep to sew up their second straight championship.

Clemens’ stint with the Yankees extended four more seasons. Though not as consistently dominant as he had been in Toronto, he helped the Joe Torre-led team win pennants in 2000, 2001 and 2003. Knocked around in two Division Series starts by the A’s in 2000, he responded with a 15-strikeout, one-hit shutout of the Mariners in the ALCS, and eight innings of shutout ball in Game 2 of the World Series against the Mets, though that performance was overshadowed by his confrontation with Mike Piazza in which he hurled a broken bat barrel across the slugger’s path as he ran down the first base line, with benches emptying and tabloids having a field day. Aided by outstanding run support (5.7 per game), he won a sixth Cy Young with a 20-3, 3.51 ERA season in 2001, though his 5.4 WAR ranked fourth. He struggled early in the postseason, totaling just 13-1/3 innings through his first three starts, but he hit his stride in the World Series against the Diamondbacks; with the Yankees trailing two games to none, he whiffed nine in seven strong innings while allowing just one run in Game 3, and struck out 10 in 6-2/3 innings in Game 7, though the Yankees ultimately lost. After a dud start in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS against Boston, he had a strong outing against the Marlins in Game 4 of the World Series, but Torre’s choice of Jeff Weaver in extra innings led to a defeat.

The 41-year-old Clemens initially retired after the 2003 season, but he was quickly lured back given the opportunity to join the Astros, who signed friend and former Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte. Pitching in the National League for the first time, he recovered some of his dominant form, winning his seventh and final Cy Young award in 2004 as he went 18-4 with a 2.98 ERA and 218 strikeouts, his highest total since 1998. He won yet another ERA crown with a 1.87 mark in 2005. After helping the Astros come within one win of a World Series berth in 2004 (his six-inning, four-run performance in Game 7 of the NLCS wasn’t a career highlight), they won the pennant the following year. Alas, he had just one good postseason start out of three, plus a strong three-inning relief appearance that garnered a win in an 18-inning Division Series game against the Braves. He left the World Series opener after just two innings due to a hamstring strain, and the Astros were ultimately swept.

Convinced that his aging body wouldn’t withstand the grind of another full season, Clemens dabbled with retirement for the next two years, sitting out spring training and making 19 starts with a 2.30 ERA for Houston in 2006, and 17 with a 4.18 ERA for the Yankees in 2007. Now 45 years old, any designs he had on furthering his career were put on hold when he was named in the Mitchell Report in December 2007. Based upon information obtained from Brian McNamee, who served as the Blue Jays’ strength and conditioning coach in 1998, and then moved on to the Yankees in 2000, the report alleged that Clemens began using Winstrol (a steroid) in mid-1998 after learning about its benefits via teammate Jose Canseco, and that he used various steroids and human growth hormone in 2000 and 2001. McNamee, who also served as a personal trainer for Clemens and Pettitte in the 2001-2002 offseason, claimed to have performed multiple injections on Clemens, and to have stored the used syringes in empty beer cans. Pettitte testified that Clemens had told him about his use of HGH.

Clemens challenged the report, and two months later, had his day in front of Congress. Seeking to cast doubt on the report and on the testimonies of both Pettitte and McNamee, the Rocket and his counsel went a weak one-for-three, painting a picture of McNamee as a fairly disreputable character seeking to avoid jail time of his own. The Department of Justice opened a perjury investigation into Clemens’ testimony, and in August 2010, he was charged with six felony counts of perjury, obstruction of justice, and making false statements to Congress. The case dragged on until June of 2012, when he was acquitted on all counts. Now 50 years old, he mounted a brief September comeback with the Sugar Land Skeeters of the Atlantic League, with son Koby catching him in two starts. Despite widespread speculation that he would pitch another game for the Astros — thereby bumping his Hall of Fame eligibility back another five years — he did no such thing.

There’s little question Clemens has the numbers — traditional or sabermetric — for the Hall of Fame. His 354 wins rank ninth all-time, the second-highest total of the post-1960 expansion era behind Maddux’s 355. His 4,672 strikeouts rank third behind Nolan Ryan and Randy Johnson. His seven Cy Young awards are two more than Johnson, three more than Carlton, and at least four more than any other pitcher. He led his leagues in wins four times, and placed in the top five seven other times. He led in ERA seven times, and placed in the top five on five other occasions. He led in K’s four times, ranked second five times, and in the top five 16 times. His 133.9 career WAR ranks third behind Young (160.8) and Walter Johnson (157.8), and is nearly twice the total of the average Hall of Fame starter (67.9). The only other post World War II pitchers above 100 are Seaver (105.3) and Maddux (101.6). Clemens’ 64.0 peak WAR ranks eighth, ahead of every pitcher whose career ended after 1930. His JAWS rank third behind Walter Johnson and Young; Seaver is the only postwar pitcher within 20 points of his 99.0. To borrow Bill James’ praise of Rickey Henderson, cut Clemens in half and you’d have two Hall of Famers.

The PED allegations muddy the waters, though as I’ve stated before, the timing matters — at least to these eyes. The accounts contained in the Mitchell Report date to the time before MLB began testing players for PEDs or penalizing them, and Clemens is not known to have used them once they did. It’s also worth noting that the findings of the report themselves didn’t hold up in court, with the credibility of star witness McNamee a major problem. That’s not to say that Clemens is as pure as the driven snow, by any means. He’s a reflection of the era in which he pitched, and by the guidelines I’ve laid out in this series, I don’t see anything in his case that puts him in the class of Rafaiel Palmeiro, the one candidate on the ballot who we know failed an MLB-administered drug test.

For those who want to play the “He was a Hall of Famer before he touched the stuff” game, Clemens notched 192 wins with a 3.06 ERA (144 ERA+) and 2,590 strikeouts with the Red Sox; his JAWS line for those years alone (77.9 total/58.3 peak/68.1 JAWS) would be above the Hall of Fame standard for starting pitchers, with a score between those of Pedro Martinez (80.5/56.3/68.3) and Bert Blyleven (89.3/46.8/68.0), good enough for 18th on the list. Note that such a ranking doesn’t even include his Cy Young-winning 1997 performance with Toronto, around which there are no PED allegations.

Because of the PED connection, it’s unlikely that Clemens will receive enough votes to gain first-ballot entry. But barring a smoking gun to cast further doubt on his accomplishments — or heaven forbid, yet another comeback — he’s likely to get his plaque in Cooperstown at some point down the road.

24 comments
JoeGates
JoeGates

He cheated. No Hall of Fame.

JeretSauer
JeretSauer

I don't see how one can say that Randy Johnson didn't dominate as long as Clemens (relatively). He played 22 seasons, 300+ wins, 4000+ so. Even at the end he was still pretty good. And he definitely didn't use. Just sayin'.

davycross
davycross

anyone that has done drugs regardless, should never be in the Hall Of Fame.  It sends a message to all don't do drugs...  The numbers look great but drugs even though he was acquitted.  NO  NO  NO

slogun23
slogun23

 @davycross Please, for the love of God, keep reading Michael10's comment to yourself over and over, and learn something about baseball history. Thank you

Michael10
Michael10

@davycross I suppose Williams, Mantle, Mays, Aaron, Schmidt, Stargell, Jenkins and dozens of others who have done stuff ranging from amphetamines to cocaine should be removed, too...

TJMarks
TJMarks

Get back to work Amod.

sangwoo29
sangwoo29

Clemens was not a HOF when he left Boston, he was still a few good years away from one. Many believe he started to use PED in Toronto and we all know what he did in Toronto - 2 CY awards. So take away his 2 CY from Toronto, take away 1 CY from NYY, and another one from HOU. Then what? He still has a good chance with 3 CY awards and probably 250 wins and 3500 Ks. But his era migt have been ugly like Jack Morris who is still not in HOF. So what can we conclude... Either make a bold statement that Clemens was already Koufax like in his Boston days and deserve a spot which I strongly disagree or Clemens simply had to use PED to gain his HOF stats.

Michael10
Michael10

@sangwoo29 Clemens had produced nearly twice Koufax's career value before he left Boston -- more career value than Schilling and nearly as much as Pedro Martinez. His ERA was 44% better than the rest of the league and nearly a full run better than Morris's. He already had not only three Cy Youngs, four ERA titles and five All-Star appearances, but an MVP to boot. The question isn't were his numbers Hall-worthy before he left Boston (they certainly were), it's whether his association with steroids after leaving Boston should keep him out...

Keither402
Keither402

I hate how this article talks about the leveled playing field of steroid use, giving Maddux no credit whatsoever for playing by the rules. Phrase it this way then: Maddux played at a decided disadvantage by playing clean. Clemens cheated just like everyone else. Either way, fact remains, Maddux won more games without chemicals. 

Mike26
Mike26 like.author.displayName 1 Like

Cheater, cheater, steroid eater.

 

Society is so sad nowadays that they don't have the intestinal fortitude to hold cheater, thieves, etc. to even the most basic of human standards.  

DwayneHammond
DwayneHammond like.author.displayName like.author.displayName like.author.displayName 3 Like

Absolutely no hall.

If you decide to cheat, you are making a decision and you are aware of both the benefits and consequences.  One consequence is that no one but you has any way to know when you started cheating.  Clamens may have started cheating in Toronto... New York... Boston... before?  

We can make assumptions, but the truth is we just don't know.  If you don't want EVERY SINGLE accomplishment you make on the diamond/field/rink brought into question... don't cheat.  If you choose to cheat, because it helps you succeed against even one opponent who is playing clean, then you benefit in wins and income, until you are caught, but you forfeit all integrity and any credibility in claims that anything you did was clean.

I've yet to see it recognized how this impacts us fans.  Clemens is MY generation (as a fan).  I grew up watching him, he and his peers defined our favourite sport, impacting our childhood memories.  For he and the other cheaters to not be in the hall, OUR time is not represented in the shrine to those who will come after.  This is a significant price the FANS have to pay for the lack of integrity of our (cheating) stars.

The fact however, is that these players do not deserve to have their artificial accomplishments put on par with those who actually earned what they accomplished, and unfortunately, this means the some of the most prominent stars of my time should not be present in the hall.

JeffB
JeffB

 @DwayneHammond "If you decide to cheat, you are making a decision and you are aware of both the benefits and consequences..."

 

Uh, gotta disagree there about "consequences", especially in regards to those on this HOF ballot.  When Mark McGwire retired in 2001,  he was considered a "can't miss, 1st ballot HOF'er."  There were NO consequences to even consider (other than possibly health concerns) 10, 15, or 20 years ago, when the steroid era began. 

 

Like it or not, Bonds and Clemens (and many other "suspected players")  will eventually make the HOF.  You can't just ignore the greatest players of that era, and fill the HOF with players like Jack Morris and Dale Murphy instead.

 

 

LouDoench
LouDoench

 @DwayneHammond Kick Gaylord Perry out of the Hall first. 

DwayneHammond
DwayneHammond

 @LouDoench  @DwayneHammond I guess I am comfortable leaving the judgements of the past to those who came before me.  If the people of his time, tasked with judging Perry, found him to be fit for the hall... so be it.  I do not feel the need to second guess those who watched a players career, and determined he was worthy of going into the hall of fame.  

Perhaps some day, a future generation will decide it does not matter what drugs a player used to artificially enhance their performance, and they will grant Clemens admission. Their values can be their own.

I believe however that we are best suited to be responsible for what happens in our time, and to me, that means recognizing that a cheater does not deserve the statistics he artificially achieved.  The hall of fame is about sending a message of who was great from our time to future generations.  Who we enshrine says as much about us as it does the players we celebrate.  Personally, I think Clemens eliminated himself from that discussion by choosing to cheat his opponents when he stepped on the mound.

 

Michael10
Michael10

@DwayneHammond @LouDoench It seems, by your logic, that Clemens (and Bonds and McGwire) eliminated himself from the discussion simply by not retiring after the 1999 season -- all would have already been in the Hall before the $#!+ hit the fan in 2005. (Same would be true of Pete Rose if he'd retired a couple years earlier...)

Greg
Greg

Lets not forget about his acting chops--he was outstanding in Kingpin

bjvande
bjvande like.author.displayName 1 Like

There is a big reason why Roger should not be in the hall of fame, and it is his inauthentic career arc.  After his age 33 season,  12 years into his career, he was let go by the Red Sox, and rightly so.   Over the last four years in Boston, he only won a TOTAL of 40 games.   At that point of his career he had only won 192 games, and his winning percentage was .634.  

Moves to Toronto, then NY, Houston, NY.   Wins 162 games with a winning percentage of of .690.   Not a single power pitcher in the live ball era (not Nolan Ryan, not Walter Johnson, Not Bob Feller, not Randy Johnson, not ... you get the idea) had that sort of a career arc after completing 12 years.  It was as if he discovered magic in a bottle.   And he did.  

Without that chemically supported  back end, he was just another washed up power pitcher, and he should be judged as one. 

 

Michael10
Michael10

@bjvande Not even Curt Schilling who won 110 games in his first 13 seasons and then 106 in his final seven? Schilling, who had never won more than 17 in a single year, won 22, 23 and 21 at ages 34, 35 and 37. Randy Johnson had won only 133 when he left Seattle after 11 years and went on to win 170 more -- he was 34 when he left the Mariners (Clemens left Boston at 33). Johnson won 3 ERA titles, 5 strikeout crowns and 4 of his five Cy Youngs after age 35. Nolan Ryan won more games after signing with the Astros at age 33 than he had in his first 13 seasons (he even won an ERA title and four consecutive strikeout crowns after age FORTY). The four-year stretch you cite as evidence of Clemens's "decline" based on win totals includes two strike-shortened seasons and some really weak Red Sox teams. Over that period, he still ranked as the seventh best pitcher in baseball according to WAR -- ahead of guys like Pedro, Glavine, Smoltz, Mussina, Brown and Schilling. As for his winning percentage late in his career, he did the same thing Johnson and Schilling did -- got out of miserable markets and signed with winning teams (he played in five postseason series with Boston and NINETEEN afterwards). Maybe he did juice (maybe some of these other guys did?) but his late career success was not unprecedented. In fact, other than playing on winning teams later, the bulk of his numbers were produced in the first half of his career, not the second...

bjvande
bjvande

 @Michael10  I was looking at the records after 12 years in the majors.   Randy Johnson's winning percentage was the same before and after.   Nolan Ryan was only 0.02 after that point in time (he won 52% before and 54% after).   Clemens went from 63% to 69%, a 6% improvement, which is pretty amazing considering where he started from.    So, of the people I listed, it is clear that something a bit out of the ordinary was happening with Clemens.  

I did not consider Schilling as a power pitcher, so I had not looked at his data.   However, I will concede that he has the same inauthentic career arc as Clemens now that I have looked at the records you highlight.

Michael10
Michael10

Win percentage is a very poor indicator of pitcher value.  Over a sixteen seasons, Whitey Ford posted a higher percentage than any modern pitcher with 1500+ innings due largely to the fact that he pitched for a Yankees team that played in 13 of 15 consecutive World Series...

 

...but he produced less career value than Kevin Appier, who pitched most of his own sixteen seasons with the KC Royals.

 

Clemens had an awful lot of 5- and 6- innings outings later in his career, but they came with teams that could provide big leads or take them back over 3-4 innings.  He wasn't getting tagged with nearly as many tough losses (losing a decision after a quality start) in New York (8) as he did in Boston (41).  For his career, Clemens had a Quality Start percentage of 66% and a W% of .658.  In his last nine seasons (after leaving Toronto) he only topped the former pecentage twice and the latter three times (his last two Cy Young seasons drastically skew his late career win percentage). 

 

PEDs might be what allowed him to pitch effectively for 24 seasons, but they would not have been a significant factor in his W-L%.

17Ksin6innings
17Ksin6innings

What's interesting about the PED allegations against Clemens is that he actually pitched worse during the times that he was supposedly using than he did when he supposedly was clean. Most people think that Clemens was on PEDS right from the beginning in Toronto, because of the great start that he had. In fact during the first year and a half nobody has claimed he was using. The worse pitching Clemens ever did was while with the Yankees. His record was 77-36 during that first stint with NY, but his ERA was just under 4.00. He pitched better during the injury plagued years of 1993-1996 with the Red Sox (his ERA+ was 134 during those years), when he was 39-40. Yes, it makes a difference if you pitch for a good team versus an average team. I'm one that doesn't believe PEDs helps pitchers nearly as much as hitters. Increasing arm strength doesn't increase velocity. Increasing leg strength can have an effect, but in Clemens case he always used leg drive to maximize his fastball. I think Clemens may have used steroids for the reason that Pettitte said he used them for. To allow his legs to recover faster, especially as the season dragged into September. Clemens had a problem with his legs breaking down late in the season. But while Pettitte could afford to admit that he used roids to keep himself on the field (because he's unlikely to make the HOF and because people generally like Pettitte), Clemens could not afford to admit that he used for that reason (because he would be in the HOF and because most people think Clemens is a jerk).

Michael10
Michael10

@17Ksin6innings There's no question that Clemens was a more valuable pitcher in Boston than he was at all other stops combined. Anyone who understands the nature of PEDs also knows that they did not make Clemens a great fastballer (just as they did not make McGwire a great homerun hitter). What they did was keep him strong and on the field, allowed him to pitch at an elite level into his mid-forties, just as they did for Bonds (Palmiero kept it up through age 40. McGwire's injuries were too severe even if he had used PEDs beyond the 1998 accusations; he played only two half seasons after age 35.) Anyone who believes Clemens' or Bonds' skill (or McGwire's for that matter) was available by the bottle is a dimwit. But those who argue that the ability to perform day in, day out for two decades or more without experiencing natural breakdown and decline certainly have a point. Was it an unfair advantage? I suppose that really depends on the extent of usage in the league, whether hitters and pitchers alike were using, the nature (and legality) of the substances in question, and the MLB rules/penalties in place at the time.

yo1
yo1

Maddux also won 4 Cy Youngs, like Carlton so the phrase "and at least four more than any other pitcher" is wrong.