If you’ve read any of my work, you’ll know that I’ve been a huge Roger Clemens fan since 1986 and remain so to this day. Regardless of the PED accusations that have hung over his head the last decade, I believe he deserves to be in Cooperstown. Just his numbers in a Red Sox uniform alone would qualify him, especially with how much the bar for induction has been lowered.
Since Clemens’ twelve-year Red Sox career perfectly straddles the two decades, he’s making both the 1980s and 1990s list. While his numbers from 1984-1990 were better than what he did from 1991-1996, he still belongs on the current list.
Between 1991 and 1996, Clemens compiled the following line: 76-60 W-L, 3.36 ERA, 1166 K, 1263 IP, 1.215 WHIP (177 starts).
While those numbers aren’t as good as what he put up in the 1980s, Clemens did win 18 games in both 1991 and 1992 and had a winning record in four of the six seasons. He did miss time with injuries in 1994 and 1995 but otherwise was his usual workhorse self. He also threw the second twenty-strikeout game of his career in 1996, ten years after throwing his first.
He led the league in ERA in 1991 and 1992, strikeouts in 1991 and 1996, starts in 1991, and WHIP in 1992. His lone postseason appearance for the Red Sox in the decade was in 1995 when they were swept by the eventual American League pennant winners, the Cleveland Indians, in the ALDS.
After the 1996 season, then-GM Dan Duquette made Clemens the largest free-agent offer ever for a Red Sox player while declaring in an often-misquoted statement that the team wanted to keep him in Boston “in the twilight of his career.” Instead, Clemens left in free agency for Toronto before heading to the Yankees, Astros, and back to the Yankees.
Never a great postseason pitcher despite his incredible regular-season numbers, many Red Sox fans hated Clemens after he left and it’s only been in recent years that they’ve softened on him. Still, there’s no denying that he was one of the greatest Red Sox players in both of the decades in which he played for them.