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Where the 15 Minutes of Fame Never End
As many pundits accurately predicted, top prospect Mike Stanton has started the season quite well for the Florida Marlins. He currently holds the #3 spot on Baseball America’s list of its top 100 prospects, and has hit 5 home runs and driven in 13 in 99 at-bats. Stanton is, by all accounts, one of the better young players in the game and a sure bet to be a Major League superstar sooner rather than later. But this culturally relevant Mike Stanton is only one of three Mike Stantons to have appeared in Major League Baseball games in the past 30 years. These two other, more obscure Mike Stantons, deserve nothing less than a spotlight today on Obscure Athletes. Because the rising star of the current Mike Stanton will continue to bury the legacy of these other Stantons with every accomplishment the future MLB great, puts on his resume.
Our first Mike Stanton is one you probably don’t remember much of. That is, of course, unless you don’t fall nicely into what our high-priced marketing department, complete with focus groups and double-blind studies, tells me our “chief demographic” is. The first Mike Stanton was a right-handed pitcher who spent 7 seasons in the majors over the course of ten years, between 1975-1985. He was drafted thrice before finally signing in 1973 with the Astros. He made his Major League debut for the team in 1975, but appeared in just seven games, five out of the bullpen. He pitched his way to a 7.27 ERA and an 0-2 record in just 17.1 IP. His big league
journey looked to be over, but alas five years later, in 1980, Stanton made the Indians’ roster out of camp and appeared in 51 games that season. Mike had his best season in 1983 with the Mariners, when he pitched in 50 games out of the Seattle bullpen, and posted a 3.32 ERA. He last appeared in 1985 for the White Sox. And the award for greatest mustache on a baseball player named Mike Stanton goes to….Mike Stanton, Right-handed pitcher!
The other ‘other’ Mike Stanton is the one you’re probably more familiar with. Drafted by the Braves in 1987, Stanton made his major league debut with the same team two years later in August of 1989. In parts of seven seasons with Atlanta, Stanton pitched 289.2 innings in his 304 appearances, all out of the bullpen.
Stanton made just one start in his career, for the Yankees in 1999. The Yanks were the team with which this Stanton enjoyed his highest level of success. He went 31-14 with a 3.77 cumulative ERA for the Bronx Bombers in parts of seven seasons. Stanton also spent time in Washington, Texas, and several other teams in his 19-year career. He made his
lone All-Star appearance in 2001, and to date remains the only Mike Stanton in the history of Major League Baseball to make an All-Star game. That’s the last beacon of notoriety that this Mike Stanton cleaves to as of May, 2011.
Why is Mike Stanton such a baseball name? I have no idea. One day I hope to make an “All-Mike-Stanton” team. We currently have two relievers and an outfielder.
Royce Clayton is one of those players that every team had to have a look at, so they could
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.
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.