The current perception is that both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were worthy of the Baseball Hall of Fame before they resorted to using PED’s. There has been much written as to why and when Bonds started using, but not much as to when Clemens did. Here is my opinion as to a possible timeline.
In order to get to my timeline I have to start with a sore subject: Jose Canseco. Canseco’s claim to be the father of steroids is well know. If you follow the stops he made during his career you see some interesting coincidences. He starts his career with the A’s, and says he turned McGwire onto steroids. He then goes to the Rangers in 1992, where Juan Gonzalez, Rafael Palmeiro and Ivan Rodriguez were befriended by Jose. He makes his way back to Oakland in 1997, and guess what Jason Giambi and Miguel Tejada are there. Do you notice anything funny?
Lets leave Jose alone for a moment and look at Clemens. He starts his career, after 2 partial years, with 7 solid full seasons of stellar pitching. If he can maintain his pace, he is a sure-fire Hall of Famer. In 1993 he has an off-year for him. He misses a month in late June/early July and ends the season going 2-8 over 12 starts and seeing his ERA jump from 3.36 to 4.46. He has a fair 1994 before the strike and misses the beginning of 1995 with a sore shoulder. He comes back in 1995 and has another nice season, but as he enters the last year of his contract people are wondering if Clemens is starting a downward trend.
Now we look at Clemens’ 1996 season. On August 1, 1996 Roger Clemens is 4-11 with an ERA of 4.36. He had 165 IP and 168 strikeouts. it is really looking like Clemens is through. He misses a start and then, like he is reborn after his 34th birthday, he starts to look like the Clemens of old. He goes 6-2 over his last 10 starts, pitching 83.2 IP while striking out 93 batters. The Red Sox aren’t sure which Clemens will show up in 1997, so they don’t re-sign him. Their GM says that he thinks Clemens is on the downside of his career. Clemens proves them wrong, he goes on to win 162 more games over the next 11 season, with the last 2 being half years. This enables him to post 354 wins for his career. He strikes out 2082 of his career total of 4672 during this time.
Now we will bring back Mr. Canseco. He signs with the Red Sox in 1995 and again in 1996. So far everywhere Jose has played, it seems, we have players, who later become connected with using PED’s. Jose says he helped McGwire, Palmeiro, Gonzalez, Ivan Rodriguez, Giambi and Tejada. He says Clemens was clean. All I can say is REALLY? Clemens late season rebirth in 1996, was it because his PED’s finally kicked in? Are all his stats after that point really him, or are they enhanced?
If Clemens had continued his downward trend from that point, would he have had Hall of Fame numbers? I am not totally convinced that he would. Before the start of the 1997 season Clemens stood at 192 wins and 2590 strikeouts. These are nice numbers, but he would still need some great years to get to the Hall. Without PED’s he doesn’t get those great seasons, or get enough average seasons to get the numbers he needs to become Hall worthy.