We don’t always talk shop at National Warehouse Equipment. Our interests are varied and we love to write about them on our blog. I love sports of all kinds, and with Spring on its way, I’m thinking about baseball. So let’s put the forklifts aside for a second and talk about America’s pastime.
Now before I state my case, let me first tell you that one of these guys (Barry Bonds) was my favorite player growing up and the other player (Roger Clemens) I absolutely despised.
It is widely agreed upon that the “start” of the “Steroid Era” was in 1998. This is the year that Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa embarked on what was one of the greatest duels in sports history. Both men chasing the single season home run record of 61 kept America on its toes. They were credited with “saving” baseball after the recent labor disputes that interrupted the game. Years later we came to find out that this moment is history was nothing but a complete sham. Both men, while one has actually admitted it, are believed to have used performance enhancing drugs to aid in their quest for the record. Over the last decade, a number of baseball’s biggest stars have been accused and have admitted to using PED’s. The game, some say, has been forever tainted.
This brings me to the two individuals I mentioned earlier in my article. Both Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens played in the steroid era. They both have been linked to PED’s. Both have been kept out of Cooperstown. What we need to consider though, is that these two men also had extremely productive, and what I believe are Hall of Fame careers prior to 1998 and the start of the “Steroid Era”. These two players earned enough accolades before 1998 that it would take a Caterpillar C5000 forklift to carry all of their hardware. Here is a quick rundown of their respective statistics and accomplishments before 1998, so you can see what I mean.
Barry Bonds – 12 seasons- .288 BA/374 HR/1094 RBI/.551 SLG/417 SB/1227 BB/.408 OBP
Roger Clemens – 14 seasons- 213-188 W-L/2.97 ERA/.644 W%/109 CG/2882 SO
Digging deeper into these statistics we can compare the careers of both players against players already in the Hall of Fame and see that even with ending Bonds and Clemens careers in 1997, they most assuredly deserve to be enshrined in Cooperstown.
Take these facts into account when considering Barry Bonds. If Barry Bonds had ended his playing career after 12 seasons in 1997, only 32 players in the Baseball Hall of Fame would have more home runs than his 374. That would be more than players such as Joe DiMaggio, Hank Greenberg, and George Brett to name a few. He would have more RBI’s than guys like Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, and Hack Wilson. Bonds’ .551 Slugging Percentage would have ranked him 14th among Hall of Famers. His 417 steals would have been the 25th most in the Hall of Fame, and his 1227 Base on Balls would have ranked him 27th ahead of greats like Dave Winfield, Cal Ripken and George Brett. Last but not least, the .408 OBP he posted during that time would have put him ahead of Joe DiMaggio, Ricky Henderson, and Honus Wagner. Every player I mentioned played 12 seasons, if not more. Guys like Brett, Winfield and Ripken played over 20 years.
The Clemens argument is just as strong. After 14 seasons his 213 wins would put him ahead of guys like Don Drysdale, Bob Lemon. The .644 winning percentage would have ranked 10th for Hall of Fame pitchers. Clemens’2.97 ERA would be better than guys like Catfish Hunter, and Lefty Gomez. He would have the same amount of complete games as Greg Maddux, who would have played 9 more seasons than Clemens. Finally, his 2882 strikes outs at the time would have ranked him 12th amongst Hall of Famers. That’s more than guys like Cy Young, Warren Spahn, and Tom Glavine. Every one of those guys played at least 7 more seasons than Clemens, had he called it quits in 1997.
There has been an extremely heated debate lately over who should be elected into the Baseball Hall of Fame. Steroids has penetrated the game so deep that writers are not even voting for guys from the era itself because they just don’t know who did or did use. There was even one baseball writer named Dan Le Batard who gave his vote to Deadspin (I attached a link to the article below). While I agree the job of the voters has gotten tougher, I think baseball writers need to look deeper into the numbers. These guys did what they needed to do after the 1998 season to be able to compete in what we know now was an un-level playing field. Were they wrong in what they did to gain an edge when everyone else around them seemed to be doing it? Absolutely! But if you ask me the numbers before the “Steroid Era” began do not lie. These guys performed at the highest level when the game was still considered clean. Hopefully the writers will let them in soon.
www.baseballreference.com was used for the statistical parts of this article.