Roger Clemens vs. Greg Maddux: Who's The Better Pitcher?

J JohnContributor IApril 21, 2008

    Over the last 20 years, baseball fans have been privileged to watch two of the greatest right-handed pitchers ever: Roger Clemens and Greg Maddux.  Clemens made his name instantly when he came up in 1984 with the Boston Red Sox and led them to the World Series just two years later.  Maddux came up with the Cubs during the 1986 season but, made his name with the Braves during the 1990's.  Both pitchers have been mentioned as the best of their time and two of the best of all-time.  The question is: Which one is better?  To figure this out, I came up with criteria to determine who is truly the better pitcher.  The criteria that I included are stat-based criteria (Wins, ERA, Strikeouts, Innings Pitched) and other perception-related criteria (Cy Young Awards, All-Star Teams).


     In his 24 season career, Roger Clemens has recorded 354 career wins, with an average of 17 wins per season over his career.  Clemens set a career high in 1986 with 24 wins, and has won 20 games six times.  In 23 seasons, Greg Maddux has recorded 349 career wins, with an average of 16 wins per season.  Maddux set career highs in 1992 and 1993 with 20 wins, and has won 20 games twice in his career.

  • Clemens gets the slight edge with more overall victories, a higher victories per season average, and more twenty win seasons.


    Roger Clemens has a career 3.12 ERA over his 24 year career.  He has posted a sub-3.00 ERA 12 times in his career, with a career-low 1.87 posted in 2005.  Greg Maddux has a career  3.12 ERA as well over his 23 year career.  Maddux has posted a sub-3.00 ERA nine times in his career, with a career-low 1.56 ERA posted in 1994.

  • Tie.  Clemens and Maddux have the same career ERA, so it would be unfair to  give the edge to either pitcher.


    Clemens is one of the greatest strikeout pitchers of all-time.  He has come up with 4672 strikeouts over the course of his career.  Maddux has struck out 3287 strikeouts over the course of his career.

  • Clemens is widely considered to be one of the greatest strikeout pitchers of all-time, so it should be no surprise that he wins here too.

Innings Pitched:

    Clemens has thrown 4917 innings over his career.  He has thrown over 200 innings 15 times in his career,  with a career-high 282 innings pitched in 1987.  Over the course of his career, Clemens has averaged 205 innings per season over the course of his career.  Maddux has thrown 4839 innings over his career.  Maddux has thrown 200 innings in a season 19 seasons, and missed a 20th season by two innings.  Maddux has averaged 211 innings per season over his career, with a career high of 268 innings in 1992.

  • Maddux gets the slight edge over Clemens in this one because, he has averaged more innings per season and has more 200 inning seasons.

All-Star Games:

    Clemens has appeared in 11 All-Star games, posting a 4.15 ERA in 13 innings.  Maddux has appeared in 8 career All-Star games, posting a 3.24 ERA in 8 1/3 innings.

  • Clemens gets the nod here because he has been voted to more all-star games than Maddux has.  Since this category is perception-related and not stat-related, Clemens will beat out Maddux. 

Cy Young Awards:

    Over the course of his illustrious career, Clemens has won seven Cy Young Awards, while Maddux has won four Cy Young awards.

  •  Clemens wins this category too with seven Cy Young Awards to Maddux's four.


    Clemens leads Maddux in most of the categories at the present time.  Maddux will most likely pass Clemens in wins and innings pitched at some point this season.  However, as of right now, Clemens is the greater pitcher.  Clemens has more wins and innings, with the same ERA as Maddux.  Clemens currently leads Maddux in most of the stat-based and perception-based criteria.  Over the remainder of Maddux's career (however long that is), Maddux could make more of a case to be the greater pitcher.  Roger Clemens, however, is currently the greater pitcher.