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Pedro Martinez says Roger Clemens and Barry Bonds should be Hall of Famers

Psst. He's right.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

The Baseball Writers Association of America doesn't believe Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens are Hall of Fame players. More specifically, 65 percent of the voters don't believe Clemens or Bonds are Hall of Famers, as both received just 35 percent of the vote in the 2014 balloting, where 75 percent is necessary for induction. You might have heard why they've massed against Clemens and Bonds in such large numbers at some point in the last decade -- hint: steroids -- but that doesn't break their case for everyone. For one, 35 percent of the electorate -- which we can safely assume there is some overlap on -- believes they are both Hall-of-Fame worthy in spite of this.

Then you've got their peer, Pedro Martinez, who publicly stated on Thursday that he's in favor of having both of them head to Cooperstown. Pedro's argument is essentially that Clemens and Bonds were both Hall-of-Fame caliber players before the steroids controversy was even a thing:

"I think Roger, with all due respect to everybody that votes, I'll have to say Roger, and Barry Bonds are two guys that I think had enough numbers before anything came out to actually earn a spot in the Hall of Fame," Martinez said. "I'm not quite sure 100 percent how close they will be before all the things came out, but in my heart, if you asked me before any of that, I would've said, 'Yes, 100 percent' without looking back.

"It wasn't just the individual performances, [it was] how they dominated the time that they came up and stayed in the big leagues until those things happened.

Martinez went on to say that eventually, both Bonds and Clemens will be recognized by the BBWAA and inducted, and given they both have well over another decade on the ballot before they even make it in front of whatever iteration of the Veteran's Committee exists at that time, he's probably right. What's more intriguing is his stance that they were probably both Hall-of-Fame players even before the alleged PED usage: not just because Pedro is right, but because we're now so used to players decrying everything PED and hoping for the harshest of punishments. Mostly that first thing, though.

Clemens supposedly began using sometime after leaving the Red Sox before the 1997 season. That's when Dan Duquette, then-general manager of the Sox, uttered his infamous quote: Boston hoped to keep Clemens around during the "twilight of his career,"  but instead, he went north to the Blue Jays. That was a silly thing to say at the time even without the benefit of hindsight, as Clemens had just led the AL in strikeouts while throwing 242 innings in 1996 with a 139 ERA+. Plus, he was 32 years old, not 42. More importantly for our purposes, he had already put up Hall-of-Fame numbers.

Clemens, Pedro, Nomar
Clemens and Pedro were inducted into the Red Sox Hall of Fame on Thursday. (Photo credit: Jim Rogash)

Clemens threw 2,776 innings for the Red Sox over 13 seasons, winning three Cy Young awards in the process while finishing second for another and third for another still. His career ERA+ with the Sox was 144, and for those of you who love your baseball in wins above replacement form, Clemens earned 81 by Baseball Reference's reckoning in his time with the Red Sox alone. That number might not mean much to you standing there by its lonesome, but some context will get your eyes popping. Just 25 pitchers in the history of the game -- from 1871 through today, from a list of nearly 9,000 different pitchers -- have ever compiled more than 81 WAR for their entire career. Bob Gibson finished with 82 WAR. The recently inducted Tom Glavine had 74. Nolan Ryan had 84. It's more than Curt Schilling, John Smoltz, Roy Halladay, David Cone, and literally thousands more.

Clemens did all that with one team. He would throw another 2,100 innings and 58 wins above replacement before retiring. If you simply ignore those additional 2,100 innings as tainted, that's your right, but what Clemens managed before still would make him one of the top 25 pitchers of all-time. If you don't care about steroids, or don't think they helped as much as some believe, then he's more like top three, and without a doubt the greatest pitcher of what we would consider the modern era of the game. You don't have to go that big to see he was a deserving Hall of Famer before the controversy, though.

Similarly, Bonds didn't reportedly get into steroids until after the 1998 Sammy Sosa & Mark McGwire Save Baseball Tour. That gives him 13 seasons to work with as well, in which Bonds batted .290/.411/.556 with 411 homers, 445 stolen bases, a 164 OPS+, three Most Valuable Player awards, seven top-five MVP finishes, and MVP votes in nine seasons. If you simply erased his entire career from 1999 onward, Bonds would still be the only player in the history of baseball to steal 400 bases and hit 400 home runs. We forget this given how he looked and moved when he was older and his knees were unkind, but Bonds was also a great defender in his youth, and received eight Gold Gloves in nine years from 1990 through 1998.

Bonds earned 100 wins above replacement during those first 13 years of his career. If we do the same thing we did with Clemens, and look at what entire careers produced throughout history against just what Bonds did during the years we believe him to be clean, then just 20 players in history have out-produced Bonds' output. Pre-1999 Bonds compiled more wins than Eddie Matthews, Jimmie Foxx, Carl Yastrzemski, Cal Ripken, Roberto Clemente, Wade Boggs, George Brett -- the list goes on.

Maybe you can't forgive either player, or you believe cheating at any period in time negates previous production as a form of punishment. That's your thing, and I'm not here to tell you to think otherwise even if I disagree. If you're on the fence, though, then what Pedro said about his contemporaries is true: Both had Hall of Fame-caliber careers long before they allegedly turned to nefarious means to keep it going, and that's not only worth recognizing, but probably will get the proper recognition before it's too late for either of them.