Let The Numbers Do The Talking: Maddux VS Johnson VS Clemens

Let The Numbers Do The Talking: Maddux VS Johnson VS Clemens

I agree that you cannot really compare player’s stats from different eras.  While the end numbers are fun to look at, especially when trying to rank a player versus others, times were different.  From league expansion, changes in field dimensions, and the changes in athletic ability between today’s group of superstars and the ones from prior eras, there is no way to deny that the stars of the game today have a leg up on their predecessors.

But we can very easily compare the players that competed at the same time, sometimes against one another.  As we get close to the start of the 2010 baseball season, I am ready to go.  I’m studying rosters, checking out Spring Training box scores, and keeping a close eye on guys playing for new teams.

Starting with this post, and throughout the season, I will show off some interesting stats I find.  And I’ll even offer my analysis of some of the game’s ‘Top’ players as I watch them battle the Marlins.

Today I wanted to take a look at the amazing careers of Greg Maddux, Randy Johnson, and Roger Clemens.  A fan of all three, I was wondering which one of them had the most fulfilling career.  All 3 are sure bets to make it into the Hall of Fame.  And it could very easily be argued that these three are the most accomplished pitchers of the last 30 years.

Let’s let the numbers do the talking:

  Maddux Johnson Clemens
Seasons 23 22 24
Wins 355 303 354
Losses 227 166 184
Win/Loss % 61.0% 64.6% 65.8%
20-win seasons 2 3 6
15-19 win seasons 16 8 6
Shutouts 35 37 46
Complete Games 109 100 118
ERA 3.16 3.29 3.12
K’s 3,371 4,875 4,672
K’s:9 innings 6.1 10.6 8.6
K’s:Walks 3.37 3.26 2.96
No-Hitters 0 2 0
Cy Young Awards 4 5 7
Cy Young (2nd-5th) 5 4 3
All-star 8 10 11
Gold Gloves 18 0 0
Post-seasons 13 8 12
World Series 1 1 2


Solid stuff, huh.  I think that these three pitchers and their numbers could stack up very well against any three pitchers from any era.

But, who was the best??  Maddux seems to have been the steadiest with his 16 years of winning between 15-19 games.  Johnson was the hardest throwing of the bunch with his incredible 10.6 strikeouts per 9 innings.  And Clemens had the lowest ERA and the highest number of complete games and shutouts.

My pick, and it was very hard to make this selection let alone rank them, goes to Roger Clemens.  Sure, he won more Cy Young awards and 1 more World Series title than the other guys.  And yes, Greg Maddux was the best fielder of the group, maybe of all-time at pitcher.  And Randy Johnson continued to dominate hitters well into his mid-40’s.

But Roger Clemens did it all.  A fire-baller with precision control.  Clemens struck out batters like no-one else, and he did it while staying composed and in control.  His career ERA of 2.96 is well below the other guys, and that included 6 years of having less than a 2.50 ERA too.  ‘Rocket’ made his teams into instant championship contenders – and he did that for 3 of the 4 teams he suited up for.  Maddux and Johnson both had playoff and World Series success, but while they were the best hurlers on their pitching staffs, that did not always result in their teams being better due to their presence.  For Clemens, it did!

You’ve seen the numbers.  You know these guys.  If you had to rank them – who would earn your top spot?? 


6 responses to “Let The Numbers Do The Talking: Maddux VS Johnson VS Clemens

  1. Call me jaded, but I believe only 1 of the 3 to be clean. Maddux had a normal career path. He actually slowed down as he got older, unlike the other 2.
    I hate it that PED’s have done this to the sport, because I love such discussions. Unfortunately, the stats don’t mean what they should mean.

  2. * Clemens used a special serum testosterone called steroids so I automaticlly eliminate him from the top spot which he would of earned if he played the game w/out performance enhansing drugs, substances, steroids whatever you want to call them. My personal feelings here…. (no offense)

    Man Brian you have got me stumped!

    I take Maddux b/c of his Wins, GG, & his 1995 season record of 19-2, ERA of 1.63, & only 23 Walks!

    However NO one goes wrong with choosing Johnson here….

    Sorry Roger you’ll never see the HOF.

  3. I would rate Maddux first.

    I think Mad Dog fielding his position so well has to be taken in consideration. How many runs did he save his team by committing few errors and creating additional outs?

  4. Randy should have pitched one more year and tried to hit that 5000k mark. He may have been the last to do it for anytime in the next 20-30….100 years. There is nobody close right now.

    Zack Grienke is almost 27 and only has 750 k’s. Pedro Martinez is almost 2000 away. If Justin Verlander keeps the same pace up he is looking at about 3,300 if he pitches until he is 42! Santana might….might….get 4000 k’s. Sabathia might have a wayyyy outside shot at it if he pitches until 45. He has 1600 at age 28.

    Same can be said for wins. We may never see another 300 win pitcher in our lifetime. The list of active career win leaders is almost pathetic to look at.

  5. Pingback: ‘Hall Of Fame Debate’ – The Archives | 30-Year Old Cardboard

  6. Clemens will never get into the HOF no matter what. Johnson gets in first time w/ a ton of votes…

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