Boston Red Sox top-10 greatest MLB amateur draft picks of all-time
By Sean Penney
Roger Clemens (1983, 1st round)
Remember when I mentioned that the Red Sox don’t have a great track record of drafting pitchers? That remains true, with one of the rare exceptions being perhaps the greatest pitcher of the modern era.
The name Roger Clemens has been dragged through the mud, stained by his association with the steroid era. Before all that, long before there was any evidence of his alleged cheating, Clemens was a dominant force for 13 seasons with the Red Sox.
The Rocket earned a record seven Cy Young Awards in his career, three of which came in a Red Sox uniform. His first Cy Young came in 1986, coinciding with the rare honor of a pitcher winning the MVP. Clemens captured the pitcher’s Triple Crown that year, leading the league with 24 wins, a 2.48 ERA, and 0.96 WHIP.
Clemens led the league in strikeouts three times during his years in Boston, including 291 strikeouts in 1988, which stands as the third-most in a single season by a Red Sox pitcher. Four of the top 10 strikeout seasons in franchise history belong to Clemens.
Only four major league pitchers have ever recorded a 20-strikeout game and Clemens is the only one to do it twice. He punched out 20 Seattle Mariners in 1986 and tied his own single-game record by striking out 20 Detroit Tigers a decade later.
Clemens was a workhorse, routinely topping 200 innings during a seven-year stretch in Boston. That included a league-leading 271 1/3 innings in 1991, a workload that seems unfathomable in today’s bullpen oriented era. He led the league in shutouts five times and compiled 38 of them with the Red Sox. Starting pitchers rarely go the distance these days yet Clemens made it seem like an expectation when he took the mound.
The Red Sox let Clemens walk away in free agency when they felt he was in the twilight of his career. He would end up proving them wrong by capturing four more Cy Youngs.
Regardless of how his reputation was tainted by the tail end of his career, none of that matters when evaluating his time in Boston. Clemens is the most accomplished starting pitcher in Red Sox history. He’s tied for the franchise record with 192 career wins and leads all pitchers in franchise history with 76.8 fWAR.
Any hard feelings between the organization and their former pitcher were buried in 2014 with Clemens was elected into the Red Sox Hall of Fame.
Clemens is at least in the conversation for the best player at any position to wear a Red Sox uniform and he’s undoubtedly the best player they have ever drafted.