Rocket Science

The FAQs about the Yankees' big deal

How long will Clemens last? Favorite Toy estimates that a 36-year-old pitcher has 2.4 seasons left. But a look at the record book suggests that he might have a few more. Of the 20 pitchers who've won more than Clemens's 233 games since 1960, 15 of them pitched until at least age 40, with an average career of over 21 years. And most were quite effective in their old age. Seven of them— Warren Spahn, Steve Carlton, Phil Niekro, Gaylord Perry, Tommy John, Early Wynn, and Jack Morris— won 20 games at least once after age 37, while Seaver went 14-2 in strike-shortened 1981, when he turned 37. And everyone except Juan Marichal would post at least one season with a dozen or more wins. Clemens, who turns 37 in August, has pitched 15 seasons, so we can count on anywhere between three— the Jim Palmer model— and ten— the Nolan Ryan model— more summers from the Rocket.

How many strikeouts will Clemens end up with? Favorite Toy predicts that Clemens will end up with 3814, which would leave him third on the all-time list behind— make that way behind— Nolan Ryan (5714) and not all that close to Steve Carlton (4136).

Is Clemens underpaid? Patrick Ewing might think so. And in the world of baseball economics, he is. After all, even Todd Stottlymyre is getting $8 million— the same as Clemens. But that's not the reason the Yanks will give Clemens a nice, fat Kevin Brown­type extension. It's simply because his trade demand gives him the leverage. But until then, the Yankees are getting a real New York bargain. Even at $2400 a pitch.

Artful Roger
AP/ Wide World
Artful Roger

Will Roger Clemens get gout? Probably not.

Who's the Best?

The chart below shows 1997­98 stats for the five pitchers who can stake a claim to being the best in the game. ERA differential shows the difference between the pitcher's ERA and the league ERA (i.e., the average pitcher). The higher the diff, the better the pitcher.

Pitcher W L Pct K ERA ERA DIFF
Roger Clemens 41 13 .759 563 2.33 2.28
Pedro Martinez 36 15 .706 556 2.39 2.04
Greg Maddux 37 13 .740 381 2.21 2.00
Randy Johnson 39 15 .722 620 2.81 1.69
Kevin Brown 34 15 .694 462 2.53 1.68
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