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Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Hall of Fame Case: Royce Clayton


Who's getting into the Hall of Fame this year? With how stacked the ballot is, it should've been a slam dunk. But syringes, cocktails and creams have changed that. Some players like Barry  Bonds and Roger  Clemens will still most likely be enshrined one day. Others like Mike  Piazza, who might've had to wait a couple years, will probably be first ballot entries. And Jack  Morris is happier than a pig in shit because his borderline case looks really good with 'roiders on the ballot.

These players don't need my help. Or yours. There are others.

Royce Spencer Clayton is one of those others.



Now, you might be asking yourself, "Why Royce  Clayton?" And I would answer, "Why not?" Then we would play cribbage while sipping shaken martinis. This is taking place in my head, not yours, just play along.

According to Jay Jaffe's JAWS Rankings on Baseball-Reference, Clayton ranks 123rd all time. Right in front of Bucky  Dent and Rich  Aurilia. And just behind Davy  Force, Eddie  Bressoud and my homeboy Dick  Schofield. The nearest Hall of Famer to him on the list is George  Wright at number 70. Wright owns, quite possibly, the most incredible sideburns in Major League history.

He's no Honus  Wagner or Alan  Trammell, but hear me out. Clayton was consistently a top five shortstop defensively throughout his career (defense, you know, the other part of playing baseball). Sure he had a career slash line of .258/.312/.367, but in 1995 he led all of baseball in most defensive stats and finished his career with a 15.8 dWAR. Not bad. The league finally rewarded his 1995 performance  in 1997 with an all star appearance.

On top of being dominant at the six hole (but being overshadowed by that spotlight hog  Omar  Vizquel), he's also got a little bit of a film background to his name. A portrayal in the film Rookie, and a spot in Moneyball portraying a much more slender version of Miguel  Tejada. Good hands and a good looking face, its only a matter of time before adult entertainment puts him in their Hall of Fame.

And that, is just the tip of the iceberg. In late 2004, Clayton won a triple decker burrito eating contest. Not by eating the most (12 in 20 minutes), but by not gaining a single pound in the process. In June of 2007, he risked his life to save a goldfish from a raging inferno in his hometown of Burbank, CA. Only a man with hands like his could have made that happen.

Incredible metabolism and a hero? What more could Cooperstown ask for? Teddy Roosevelt might not have been impressed with Clayton's knack for not carrying a big stick, but he surely would have loved to have him charging up San Juan Hill during the Spanish-American War.

Up the middle, it's about defense. Royce  Clayton was slick with the glove, and that impresses me. So whaddya say BBWAA? I know this is crazy, but call him, maybe?


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