Obscure Athletes

Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End

Obscure Spotlight: Royce Clayton

Royce Clayton is one of those players that every team had to have a look at, so they could

Pre-Dunston era Clayton

see up close just how mediocre he was. As a result, Clayton managed to stay in the majors for seventeen seasons, and by the time he retired after the ’07 season he had made an appearance in eleven different Major League uniforms. The Giants selected Clayton with the fifteenth overall pick in the 1988 draft, and made his debut for those same Giants in September of 1991.

Two seasons later, Clayton was the full-time starting shortstop in San Fransisco, yet during the 1995 offseason the Giants elected to upgrade the shortstop position by starting Shawon Dunston, and as a result Clayton was moved to St. Louis in a blockbuster of a deal involving Cardinal great Fernando Tatis.

Arguably Clayton’s best season came in 1997, a season in which he became an all-star for the first time in his lengthy career. He hit .266 with 9 homers and 61 RBI.

Royce really took advantage of the thin Colorado air in 2004, hitting 8 home runs.

I’m gonna stop myself here. Until I looked up Royce Clayton’s career numbers, I never knew just how mediocre this man was. With his lackluster performance at the plate, I thought to myself “Oh, well he must have been a good defensive shortstop to have stuck around for so long.” Eh. He had mixed defensive metrics. Six times Clayton was in the top five in the majors in errors by a shortstop, though his range factor suggests he was, indeed, a defensive asset. Five times he was in the top ten in double plays grounded into.

Clayton went between 2002 and 2006 playing for a different team each season. White Sox, Brewers, Rockies, then D-Backs, Nats, and Reds. In 2007 he played for two more teams–the Blue Jays and Red Sox.

Despite not being on Boston’s postseason roster in 2007, he received a ring from their World Series run, the only of his illustrious career. And just like the true champion he was, Clayton rode off into the sunset, ending his career as a champion. Sort of. Just like he was an alright baseball player…sort of.

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