When Ken Griffey, Jr. retired, it brought to the forefront MLB players who had outstanding careers while staying clean during baseball’s infamous “performance enhancing drugs” or “PED” era. This article is the second in a series that examines the greatest clean players of this time.
The link to the first article is given below.
It should be noted how “clean” is defined here. If a player admitted to PED usage, tested positive for PEDs, is rumoured to have taken PEDs or is on the leaked version of the infamous list of 103 players who tested positive, they are not included here. So there are certainly better players than those in this article, but they did not meet the “clean” criteria given above. And of course, the best clean players appeared in the first article.
4. John Smoltz
Some may question why a pitcher would make this list since the steroid era mainly impacted hitting. However, with pitchers such as Roger Clemens being implicated in PED usage, outstanding clean pitchers should be recognized. Although he is likely to be inducted in the Hall of Fame, John Smoltz will never be fully appreciated as the great pitcher he truly was. For one thing, Smoltz was part of one of the greatest pitching staffs in history with the Atlanta Braves. Also, Smoltz spent part of his career as a starter and part as a reliever. So neither his win total nor his save total is overly impressive. However, John Smoltz did win the Cy Young in 1996 and was an eight-time All-Star.
3. Chipper Jones
Another Atlanta Brave whose greatness is underrated is Chipper Jones. A versatile fielder who can hit and run well, Jones excels in all facets of the game. Unfortunately, Chipper Jones was rarely considered one of the best players in baseball during his prime because his power numbers always paled in comparison to alleged PED users. But his .306 batting average and 476 home runs hit through 2010 would be considered legendary in any other era. Amazingly, Jones led the NL in hitting with a .364 average in 2008 at the age of 36. Chipper Jones is an eight-time All-Star and the NL MVP in 1999.
2. Mariano Rivera
Given the body of both his regular season and postseason work, Mariano Rivera is the greatest closer in history. And even at the age of 40, he has shown no signs of diminished effectiveness. Rivera’s statistics are ridiculous. In 10 of his 16 seasons, his ERA has been under 2.00. And except for his first season, Rivera’s ERA has only been above 3.00 once. But Rivera’s true greatness has come in October. If Reggie Jackson was “Mr. October” then Mariano Rivera should be “Señor October.” Through 2009, Mariano Rivera’s postseason ERA is a staggering 0.74 and he has accumulated 39 saves. Rivera has been an All-Star 11 times.
1. Frank Thomas
If ever a player looked the part of a PED user it was Frank Thomas. However, the “Big Hurt” was always a large man, even going back to his days of playing football at Auburn University. In fact, Thomas was one of the most outspoken players to call for PED testing. The statistics that Frank Thomas accumulated are surprisingly similar to Chipper Jones. Thomas hit 521 HRs and had a batting average of .301. What was most remarkable about Frank Thomas was his ability to draw walks while still hitting for power. In fact, Thomas drew at least 100 walks 10 times. Frank Thomas was a five-time All-Star and was the AL MVP in 1993 and 1994.
“John Smoltz,” baseball-reference.com
“Chipper Jones,” baseball-reference.com
“Mariano Rivera,” baseball-reference.com
Steroids in sport? It’s called chitting! Simple as that – and I was always p***ed off when my beloved sports hero turned out to be a doper!