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Just The Sports: Clemens and Steroids

Just The Sports

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Clemens and Steroids

This whole article presupposes that Roger Clemens started using steroids or human growth hormone (HGH) or any other performance enhancing chemicals in 1998 and continued using these illegal supplements throughout the rest of his career, which so far seems to have ended after the 2007 season. Following this premise, Clemens then had fourteen clean seasons and ten seasons where he was juicing. Now, it is already apparent that Clemens never had the complete body transformation Bonds experienced nor did he ever become a superhuman pitcher, but it is important to try to establish where and if Clemens was helped by the illegal supplements if he indeed took them.

After looking at Clemens' 623 pitching starts, one notices immediately that the steroids did not make him a better pitcher. Actually, in his last ten seasons, Clemens failed to match five of the most important pitching statistics in a statistically significant manner: his fielding-independent ERA (3.18 to 3.53), walks allowed per nine innings (2.74 BB/9 IP to 3.14 BB/9 IP), home runs allowed per nine innings (.60 HR/9 IP to .76 HR/9 IP), strikeout-to-walk ratio (3.12 K/BB to 2.73 K/BB), and average innings pitched per start (7.3 IP to 6.4 IP). Even though these drops in performance are not as steep and sheer as some of the mountains Bear Grylls scales on Man vs. Wild, the only reason the numbers are even as close as they are is because Clemens spent three seasons in the National League, or as some have put it, the junior varsity league.

Once the National League seasons are removed from the equation, the differences do indeed become slightly larger in favor of Clemens' first fourteen seasons, more evidence as to why the National League is a far less scary place for pitchers, especially since there is no designated hitter there. Instead of the second numbers in the parentheses in the preceding paragraph, the statistics change to 3.71 fielding-independent ERA, 3.27 BB/9 IP, .86 HR/9 IP, and 2.65 K/BB. Therefore, most of Clemens' resurgence in the second part of his career had more to do with the league he pitched in than any increase in his ability to get hitters out.

If there is any way steroids or HGH helped Clemens, it was only to lengthen his career. The supplements certainly helped him in no other way, not even allowing him to maintain the numbers he put up in the earlier part of his career.



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