The Rocket is one of the best pitchers to ever take the mound in baseball history. While his tainted past leaves his Hall of Fame candidacy in question, you can build a solid argument that the 13 seasons Clemens spent with the Red Sox stamped his ticket to Cooperstown before PEDs ever entered the equation.
Clemens made five All-Star appearances during his time in Boston, capturing three Cy Young awards and four ERA titles. In 1986 he won an MVP award, a rarity for a starting pitcher, by leading the league with 24 wins and a 2.48 ERA.
There have only been five instances in which a pitcher has struck out 20 batters in nine innings of the same game, two of which belong to Clemens. The first was in ’86 when he struck out 20 Seattle Mariners in a 3-1 victory, setting the tone early for what would become an MVP season that would end with a World Series appearance. A decade later he would accomplish the feat again by shutting out the Detroit Tigers in September at the tail end of what would be his last season in Boston.
Clemens is tied with Cy Young for the franchise record in wins with 192. His 2590 strikeouts are by far the most in franchise history and he also has a sizable lead in the Red Sox record books with 76.8 WAR.
His 133.7 WAR is the highest in major league history for a pitcher, according to FanGraphs. Even if you only count his years with the Red Sox, he would still rank 24th among pitchers. If Hall of Fame voters want to punish Clemens for using steroids, I get it. However, there was never any evidence that Clemens was cheating during his time in Boston, so let’s not pretend that PED use was the reason he put up numbers worthy of Cooperstown.