Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens, the greatest hitter and pitcher of the “Steroid Era,” headlined a group of 37 players eligible for the Class of 2013 in the National Baseball Hall of Fame. But for the first time since 1996, zero players were immortalized by baseball writers in the museum at Cooperstown, N.Y.
The Baseball Writers’ Association of America made a collective statement. Needing 75 percent of the BBWAA vote for enshrinement, Clemens (37.6) and Bonds (36.2) — undeniably the faces of the PED generation — finished eighth and ninth, despite being two of the most dominant players in history.
Both men have gone to trial for obstruction of justice and perjury charges stemming from testimony regarding alleged steroid use. Using the established legal timelines, we attempt to break down the career numbers of Bonds and Clemens — from the clean years to the potentially juiced seasons.
Reportedly jealous of the attention received by both Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa during the home run race that “saved baseball” in 1998, Bonds allegedly turned to PEDs. Evidence points to 1999 as his first tainted season; he posted the lowest AB-per-HR total of his career (10.4 in 1999, 16.1 from 1986-98) and played a career-low 102 games due to an elbow injury that is speculated to have been a result of steroid overuse.
From there, Bonds’ hat size and stat size grew to otherworldly levels — as he hit 73 HRs in 2001 and batted .370 in 2002. It’s hard to deny Bonds’ résumé prior to 1999. The son former All-Star Bobby Bonds and godson of Hall of Famer Willie Mays was already a one-man member of the 400-400 HR-SB club.
After posting a 4.00 ERA or higher in two of his last four seasons in Boston, “Rocket” found new fuel after going to Toronto in 1997 — with back-to-back Cy Young seasons. He then went on to post two more Cy Young years, as a 38-year-old 20-game winner with the Yankees in 2001 and a 41-year-old 18-game winner with the Astros in 2004.
But prior to going north of the border, Clemens was one of only five three-time Cy Young winners — along with Steve Carlton, Greg Maddux, Sandy Koufax, Jim Palmer and Tom Seaver. Of those, only Koufax could match Clemens with one MVP Award to go along with his three Cy Youngs.