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Roger Clemens Place in History Part Two

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Today I'll continue the Roger Clemens piece I started yesterday by comparing Clemens to the very best that baseball history has to offer. Walter Johnson and Lefty Grove are Clemen's main competition for greatest pitcher of all-time at the moment. I know things can change (some would say Maddux and Pedro are pitching their way into the discussion as well, and some more would say Randy Johnson deserves mention) but for now let's focus on those who are deserving, not those who someday may be deserving. That is an article for another day. As always, ERA is of the translated variety off of Clay Davenport's DT Cards at Baseball Prospectus. That is to keep Johnson's low ERA era from auto-defeating Clemens. I'll also use ERA+ to hammer the point home. JAWS, for those who haven't seen it yet, is (Career WARP3 + Peak WARP3) / 2. It's my favorite Jay Jaffe toy. Translated Strikeouts from the DT Cards are also thrown in there as well. Let's see what we got:

Walter Johnson 1907-1927
ERA: 3.08
K: 3508
Translated K: 4739
BB: 1363
WARP3: 189.4
Peak WARP: 73.1
JAWS: 131.25
PRAR: 1737
ERA+: 146 (#3 all-time)
RSAA: 643 (#3 all-time)

Lefty Grove 1925-1941
ERA: 2.99
K: 2266
Translated K: 3736
BB: 1187
WARP3: 127.0
Peak WARP: 49.1
JAWS: 88.05
PRAR: 1297
ERA+: 148 (#2 all-time)
RSAA: 668 (#2 all-time)

How do I include Lefty Grove in this discussion, since his DT Card statistics are so much lower than Johnson's? Well, take a look at that career ERA+. That is the greatest all-time among starting pitchers not named Pedro Martinez. But let us remember Pedro has not gone through the decline phase portion of his career yet; Pedro will most likely finish as the all-time leader, since he sits in first with a 167 ERA+, but you never know how hard he will fall when his time comes. It is amazing that Pedro's career ERA+ is 19 points higher than the next highest pitcher, but you have to go to #39 on the list, Stan Coveleski (ERA+ 127) to get the next twenty points of ERA+ out of the way. If I'm still doing this in 10 years I'm pretty sure a Pedro verse these three guys article will be in the works.

Roger Clemens 1984-2005
ERA: 2.82
K: 4386
Translated K: 5110
BB: 1477
WARP3: 176.6
Peak WARP: 52
JAWS: 114.3
PRAR: 1680
ERA+: 141 (#12 all-time)
RSAA: 676 (#1 all-time)

The funny thing about Clemens is that his ERA+ is going to keep getting better; the man has a 1.19 ERA this season. Last year finishing at 2.98 gave him a 145; I wonder what will happen if he finished under 2.00 this year. Clemens has already accumulated 6.8 WARP3 so far this year. It is a shame that can't be added to his Peak WARP score, or else I think he'd end up passing Walter Johnson in his JAWS score, or atleast evening out the field some more.

What we get out of this article is that Clemens is essentially the #2 pitcher of all-time at the moment. If he continues to pitch the way he has this year, what is to say he won't be brought back one more time? I think that finishing this year up the way he has so far as well as one more year should catapult him to first place all-time, but as of today, he is #2. As I said, this year and one more will clinch Clemens as #1 in my mind, if he can keep it up. But no worries, #2 is still an amazing honor, and I motion to rename the Cy Young award after Roger Clemens when he is inducted into the Hall of Fame. Clemens may have got the award last year when Randy Johnson or Ben Sheets should have, but he was screwed royally in 1990 by Bob Welch, so everything evens out overtime.

Before anyone attacks me for not including Christy Mathewson and others in the discussion, Matthewson had a 3.58 DT ERA, and a career ERA+ of 135. Seaver same deal...I could go on all day, but if anyone thinks I left someone out notify me and I'll answer with my reasoning...unless of course your right.

Here are Cy Young's numbers before anyone yells at me about that:

Cy Young 1890-1911
ERA: 3.22
K: 2803
Translated K: 3939
BB: 1217
WARP3: 177.1
Peak WARP: 58.6
JAWS: 117.85
PRAR: 1668
ERA+: 138 (#16 all-time)

The ERA and ERA+ were too high for me, and considering he had a longer career than Grove and barely surpassed him in translated K's made me leave him out. Grove is on the list for having a better ERA+ and lower translated ERA than the Big Train, while Cy Young really has no claim to be ahead of Johnson.

Monday I think I will write a Pedro/Maddux/Johnson article to see who the best among those three is, unless I get some additional Clemens' info requests.

Update [2005-5-31 12:19:41 by Marc Normandin]: Clemens set the modern day record for career RSAA (Runs Saved Above Average) in his start the other day. And who is he directly in front of?

RSAA
1 Roger Clemens 671
2 Lefty Grove 668
3 Walter Johnson 643
4 Greg Maddux 556
5 Grover C Alexander 524
6 Randy Johnson 512
7 Pedro Martinez 488
8 Christy Mathewson 405
9 Tom Seaver 404
10 Carl Hubbell 355

Thanks to The Hardball Times for this information.