Roger Clemens was indicted on federal perjury charges yesterday.
Since, and even before his retirement, rumors swirled that one of the best right-handed pitchers of all-time had been a user of performance enhancing drugs. The numbers are there for induction to the Major League Baseball Hall of Fame, but should the rumors of steroid use axe his chance at baseball immortality?
Let's look at the numbers.
There are three major statistical categories that are used when deciding whether a pitcher is a candidate for the Hall of Fame.
The first category to look at is wins. Clemens ranks ninth all-time in Major League history with 354 wins.
Next is earned run average. He finished his career with 3.12 ERA, which ranks in the top 100 in Major League history.
The last category is strikeouts. Clemens ended his career with 4,672 strikeouts, ranking third on the all-time list behind only Randy Johnson and Nolan Ryan.
Add to that he was an 11-time All Star, Rookie of the Year, seven-time Cy Young award winner, and 1986 AL MVP, that is a pretty impressive resume for Cooperstown.
Many people feel that some of these stats were aided by performance enhancing drugs. The overwhelming opinion is that Clemens began using when he joined the Toronto Blue Jays in 1997 at the age of 34.
So for the sake of argument, let's take his numbers before that point and see if he was Hall-worthy even without the questionable stats from 1997 on.
In his 13 years before the 1997 season, Clemens recorded 192 wins, a 3.06 ERA, and 2,590 strikeouts. He also added five All-Star appearances, three CY Young awards, and an AL MVP award. These statistics and achievements alone should have put him in the Hall of Fame if he decided to retire after the 1996 season at 33 years old.
Even though he wasn't an elite pitcher like he was earlier in his career, he was still pretty good and would have added to these numbers with or without steroids. Obviously, the numbers would be nowhere close to where they are now, but it wouldn't be crazy to say he would have had 3,000-plus strikeouts and 250-plus wins.
There will be a great debate over the next decade or so on how to judge players that are thought to have done steroids.
The fact is that steroids were not illegal during this period of baseball, and certain players took advantage of the edge. There are several other periods in baseball history when statistics were skewed, most notably, the "dead ball" era and pre-integration.
If the voters want to punish these alleged cheaters, keep them out on the first ballot, but it is absurd not to recognize some of baseball greats because they may or may not have used steroids.
Roger Clemens might be a dirtbag, but, in the end, he was one of the greatest pitchers over the past 30 years and deserves a spot in Cooperstown.