Houston Astros: Examining former players Hall of Fame cases

Houston Astros closer Billy Wagner pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning, 26 June 2001, in Phoenix. The Astros won 10-7. AFP PHOTO/Mike FIALA (Photo by Mike FIALA / AFP) (Photo by MIKE FIALA/AFP via Getty Images)
Houston Astros closer Billy Wagner pitches against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the ninth inning, 26 June 2001, in Phoenix. The Astros won 10-7. AFP PHOTO/Mike FIALA (Photo by Mike FIALA / AFP) (Photo by MIKE FIALA/AFP via Getty Images) /
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LOS ANGELES – August 28: Roger Clemens of the Houston Astros pitches during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 28, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Astros 1-0. (Photo by Robert Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images)
LOS ANGELES – August 28: Roger Clemens of the Houston Astros pitches during the game against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on August 28, 2005 in Los Angeles, California. The Dodgers defeated the Astros 1-0. (Photo by Robert Leiter/MLB Photos via Getty Images) /

Roger Clemens

The numbers speak for themselves when it comes to Roger Clemens: 354 wins, 4,672 strikeouts, seven Cy Young awards, 11 All-Star appearances, two pitching Triple Crowns, seven ERA titles and an MVP award. His 139.2 career WAR is eighth all-time and third among pitchers. He’s ninth all-time in wins and third in strikeouts.

With the Astros, Clemens was brilliant for three seasons despite being in his 40s. He went 38-18 with a 2.40 ERA, winning one Cy Young award and leading the league in ERA the next year. From a sheer statistical standpoint, there’s no reason why Clemens shouldn’t be in the Hall of Fame, but of course those who vote against him do so for other reasons.

Shortly after his playing career ended, Clemens was named in the Mitchell Report, and his public spat with former trainer Brian McNamee resulted in lawsuits. Clemens was also indicted for lying to Congress, though he was not convicted. Nonetheless, the prevailing opinion is that he did indeed use performance enhancing drugs, likely beginning with his stint in Toronto in 1997 and 1998.

More of his dirty laundry was aired in the form of some extramarital affairs, most notably with country singer Mindy McCready, which may have began when she was underage. That indiscretion is held against him by some voters as well, so although his on-field career is certainly worthy, it’s all the other baggage that’s holding his candidacy back.

Clemens was named on only 37.6 percent of ballots in 2013, his first year of eligibility. He’s trended upward since then, reaching 61 percent in 2020. So far this year, the latest numbers have him named on 72.2 percent of public ballots. That number will likely be lower among private ballots, so he seems unlikely to make it this year.

Clemens will only have one year of eligibility remaining if he doesn’t get in this year, so it’s going to be an interesting case to follow next year. His fate is tied closely with that of Bonds, both of whom would be on their last chances in 2022. I firmly believe they should both be in the Hall of Fame, but whether they will make it may be a different story entirely.

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