Red Sox: What if Roger Clemens never left in free agency?

Houston Astros former players Jeff Bagwell (left) and Roger Clemens (right) throw out a ceremonial first pitch before a game against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park.
Houston Astros former players Jeff Bagwell (left) and Roger Clemens (right) throw out a ceremonial first pitch before a game against the Kansas City Royals at Minute Maid Park. /
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Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Greg M. Cooper-USA TODAY Sports /

Roger Clemens in Boston

Few, if any, could argue that his legacy in Boston will live on. While Clemens is no longer playing baseball in any capacity, his longevity and ability to dominate lasted for over a decade in Boston. He was the premiere power pitcher in the mid 80’s until the mid 90’s and for Red Sox fans, that was a very good thing. Roger Clemens was the face of Boston pitching before Pedro Martinez arrived on the scene in 1998.

Clemens won 20 or more games in Boston three times, winning a total of 24 games in 1986 as a 23-year old. The Rocket is also the only pitcher to strike out 20 batters in a game twice. Only two other pitchers have recorded 20 strike out performances. Kerry Wood of the Chicago Cubs in 1998 and Max Scherzer of the Washington Nationals in 2016.

Just how good was Clemens in 1986? Clemens won both his first Cy Young Award that year and his first Most Valuable Player Award. You don’t win that kind of hardware without being spectacular. He won the Cy Young twice more as a Sox in 1987 and 1991. Clemens won the award three times in a six year span in Boston.

Clemens’ best years in Boston

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Clemens posted a 24-4 record with a 2.48 ERA and struck out 238 batters over 254 innings in 1986.

The following season he went 20-9 with a 2.97 ERA and struck out 256 batters in 281 2/3 innings pitched.

In 1990, at just 27 years old, he became a 20 game winner for the 3rd time in his career and 3rd time in just five seasons. The Rocket posted a 21-6 record with a 1.93 ERA and recorded 209 strike outs in 228 1/3 innings pitched.

As a member of the Sox, he led the league in Wins in back to back seasons in 1986 and 1987. Clemens led in ERA four times including 1986 and three consecutive years from 1990 until 1992. The Rocket dominated with the most strike outs three times in 1988, 1991 and 1996. The second most strike outs of his career came in 1988 when he recorded 291 K’s.

The Rocket was also fantastic at shutting out ball games. Clemens led the league in shutouts five times as a member of the Red Sox, back-to-back years in 1987 and 1988, where he also led the league in complete games and again led shutouts from 1990 thru 1992.

Rogers Clemens’ career numbers in Boston are staggering.

Clemens Red Sox Career Numbers

Seasons – 13
ERA – 3.06
Wins – 192
Losses – 111
Innings Pitched – 2776.0
Strike Outs – 2590
Complete Games – 100
Shutouts – 38

Some pitchers never ever accumulate 100 wins in their career, Clemens was able to hit 192 in just 13 years. Lest we forget, in 1984 and 1985, he only pitched partial years. Was Clemens better than Pedro Martinez? Who had better numbers?

Pedro Martinez‘ numbers in Boston

Seasons – 7
ERA – 2.52
Wins – 117
Losses – 37
Innings Pitched – 1,383 2/3
Strike Outs – 1,683
Complete Games – 22
Shutouts – 8

While Clemens had the better numbers, he still missed that one elusive award, the World Series Title which he never had as a member of the Red Sox. After departing in free agency after the 1996 season, he found himself in the thick of things with another American League foe. Did he do better there?