Royce Clayton is my favorite kind of mediocre athlete. He was never great (he may have been good a couple of times) but he managed to hang around in the Major Leagues for 17 seasons. That’s saying something.
Over his 17 year career, Clayton played for 11 different teams. While both of those pieces of information are pretty impressive, even more impressive is where Clayton played on the diamond. Usually when a guy sticks around for so long, he moves around the diamond a bit to prolong his career. Not Royce Clayton. In those 17 seasons, Clayton was on the field for over 17,000 innings. Damn! In all of that time, Clayton spent all but 7.1 innings at shortstop. He was able to play solid enough defense at a premier position for 17 seasons. Nice.
Clayton made his big league debut with the San Francisco Giants way back in 1991. He was the Giants full-time shortstop from 1992-1995. During that time he hit a paltry .249 with an OPS+ of only 75. In the winter of 1995, he was the main piece in a trade that sent him to the St. Louis Cardinals.
In 1997, Clayton made his only All-Star Game. He hit .266 that season with 9 homers and 30 steals. The following season he was part of a trade deadline deal that sent him packing and he joined the Texas Rangers. Clayton enjoyed some decent power numbers in Texas (who doesn’t?) as he slugged 14 homers in back-to-back seasons.
Like most guys that stick around for a long time (Vinny Testaverde), Clayton put up some decent career totals in a few categories. Check this:
- 1,904 hits, 39th in baseball from 1991-2007
- 231 steals, 38th in baseball
In fact, over that time period, only 19 players in all of baseball had at least 1,900 hits and 200 steals. The list is filled with names like Barry Bonds, Kenny Lofton and Craig Biggio. Obviously, I’m not saying that Royce Clayton was as good as Barry Bonds, I’m just showing that when you stick around long enough, you’re bound to put up some good-looking numbers.
Royce got exactly 6 at-bats for the Red Sox in 2007, but that was enough for him to earn his only World Series ring. Atta boy, Royce. Also, I thought this was funny. It’s from the first sentence of his website:
“Royce Clayton is one of the premier baseball players of our time and a role model for athletes around the world.”