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Tigers Down to Yanks, Clemens

In what could be Roger Clemens final appearance against the Tigers, the Tigers are down 4-2 in the seventh. Clemens pitched 6 2/3 solid innings, and now we’ll see if the Tigers can do anything against the Yankees bullpen.

Roger Clemens at this point, has to be one of the top five pitchers ever. Bill James ranks him 11th all time back in 2000 when he wrote his New Historical Baseball Abstract, but acknowledges that because he’s a modern day pitcher, he may deserve a higher rating. In fact he even mentions that there are good arguements that he is THE very best pitcher ever.

Clemens numbers speak for themselves. Through 2002, he has a career ERA+ of 142. For those of you unfamiliar with this statistic, essentially it measures a pitcher’s ERA as a percentage of what the park adjusted league ERA was for that player. If you have 100, you have exactly the park adjusted league average. 142 put him at 11th best all time.

His career numbers are daunting. He has 306 wins (307 if he wins tonight), 4089 strikeouts, a 1.18 WHIP, and a .231 batting average against. Six times he’s won 20 games. In fact, he’s had so many good seasons, that it’s hard to even say which one is best. 1986 stands out, and was the first year he won the Cy Young. 1990 also stands out when he had a 1.93 ERA.

Probably the most impressive thing about him is his winning percentage. Roger has won 306 and lost 160. That means in games where he got a decision, he won 66% of them. Five pitchers have won 300, and lost less then 200. Only one of those pitched after 1920, and that was Hall of Famer Lefty Grove, who won exactly 300, and lost only 141. Lefty is rated number two by Bill James, so we know Roger is in select company.

Twice this year I saw him in person; once at Comerica Park when he went for his 300th win, and then again at Yankee Stadium. Knowing I was seeing a part of baseball history was a special treat for any baseball fan.

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