On every Major League Baseball team there is going to be at least one player that even their own fans hate. The most interesting part is, for every team and every player, the reasons why they are hated are often very different.
For example, take the New York Mets of this generation. Who was hated more at their peak, Armando Benitez or Aaron Heilman? Having lived through both the 2000 Subway Series and the 2006 NLCS, I know my answer, but I could easily see myself on either side of the argument, depending on what points are made.
So if I name a player on your team that you love, tell me! I would be happy to hear your side of the story and change my opinion. However, based on the research I have done and personal opinions I created based on 20-plus years of watching baseball, here is my list!
Let the debating begin...
Following the 2008 season, the hype surrounding Stephen Drew could not have been higher. Hitting .291 with 21 homers and a .502 slugging percentage as a 25-year-old usually leads to big things. However, in the three years since, Drew has struggled staying healthy and has not been the same player on the field. His average has dipped down to .261, and he's only hit 32 home runs combined over those three years.
There comes a time where a fan’s patience with a player runs out. With the Diamondbacks' magical playoff run last season coming without Drew's help, his spot in the hearts of Diamondback fans has come and gone.
Mike Minor jumps to the top of this list for Braves fans because he essentially asked for a trade last week.
For a player who has barely contributed to the Braves at the major league level to be that outspoken does not win over the fanbase. Considering the talented pitching prospects the Braves have coming through their minor league system that are ready to contribute in Julio Teheran, Arodys Vizcaino and Randall Delgado, Minor has put himself in the doghouse.
After signing a two-year contract for $10 million, Kevin Gregg was supposed to be a closer and leader for the Orioles bullpen. One terrible year later, and he finds himself on this list.
As the closer, you either get a lot of love or a lot of hate. With seven blown saves in 29 chances, let’s just say Gregg is not getting a lot of love in Baltimore. Heading into the 2012 season, Gregg is no longer the closer of the Orioles, and the fans in Baltimore are certainly happy about that.
After nine seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays, Carl Crawford was used to being booed in Fenway Park. After signing a seven-year deal for $142 million with the Red Sox after the 2010 season, he hoped to turn those boos into cheers.
Unfortunately for Crawford and Red Sox fans everywhere, his plan did not work out so well.
In his first year in Boston, Crawford played in fewer than 135 games for only the second time in his 10-year career, posting career lows in batting average (.255) and on-base percentage (.289). This offseason, the news did not get any better as he had offseason wrist surgery and may miss the start of the 2012 season.
With the nine-game collapse of 2011 fresh on the minds of the Boston faithful, the fans need something to hate. Crawford will be that something until his performance on the field turns around.
With Carlos Zambrano gone, this was an easy one.
Not only does he have a massive contract, but in his first five seasons as a Cub, Alfonso Soriano has only had one good season, and that his first year back in 2007!
He is horrible defensively, does not hit for average, does not get on base and strikes out way too much. If he did not have that albatross of a contract, new Cubs general manager Theo Epstein would have gotten rid of Soriano already.
The problem is that nobody wants him anymore, not even Cubs fans.
Hey Sox fans, is second place even close?
After being one of the most consistent power hitters in baseball for the better part of a decade, the White Sox signed Adam Dunn to a four-year contract in what seemed like a great deal for both sides.
All Dunn did as a thank you was have one of the worst-hitting performances ever put together in a major league season.
Dunn has never been an outspoken man, so much like Carl Crawford in Boston, until his performance in Chicago turns around, Dunn's negative rapport with the fans on the South Side will not change.
Even though he is not a player on the 25-man roster, Dusty Baker will have a great impact on the Cincinnati Reds this upcoming season, so I believe he qualifies.
Another reason is because in all the research I conducted, no Reds player received nearly as much negative publicity as Baker. Some fans have created blogs, while others have been more eloquent in their reasoning yet still just as negative. All in all, the sentiment is the same: get rid of Dusty Baker.
After reaching the playoffs in 2010, the Reds fell back under .500 in 2011. Following an offseason where the front office added power arms such as Mat Latos, Sean Marshall and Ryan Madson, if Baker does not have this team in contention around playoff time, the social media hate mail will continue to pile up.
This is more about Grady Sizemore’s unfulfilled potential.
For three years, 2006 through 2008, Sizemore was on the brink of stardom. He never finished lower than 12th in the MVP race, winning two Gold Gloves and making the All-Star team each season.
Then that player disappeared.
After averaging 160 games from '06-08, he averaged 70 from 2009-2011. His slash line dropped from .279/.380/.499 to .234/.314/.413 over the course of those three years. Simply put, he has never been the same player.
This offseason, the Indians gave Sizemore one more chance to return to form with a $5 million contract, plus incentives. After already getting hurt, it looks like he will disappoint the fanbase once again.
This one definitely surprised me.
I figured Helton would be a legend for the Rockies and their fanbase. After 10 years of solid production, how could he not be?
However, the more research I did, the more articles I found like this, with people that are sick of Helton and want him to move on.
The Rockies are a much younger franchise built around youth. With Troy Tulowitzki, Carlos Gonzalez and their young pitching staff, is it time for Helton to move on?
Apparently, there are a lot of Rockies fans out there who believe it is.
The Tigers have been trying to get rid of Inge for years, and after signing Prince Fielder, it seems as if Inge has finally had enough.
His pessimistic attitude towards Miguel Cabrera and his ability to handle third base have been at the forefront of Tigers spring training camp, and the fans no longer want to hear about it.
It appears that the sooner the Tigers get rid of Brandon Inge, the happier their fans will be.
Right off the bat, Brandon Lyon did what he could to lose the faith of Astros fans.
In his very first appearance, Opening Day of 2011, Lyon gave up six consecutive hits, allowing three runs to the Philadelphia Phillies, blowing the game for Houston.
Lyon's performance after the game did not get much better. He ended the season with just 13.1 innings and an 11.48 ERA.
In his defense, Lyon pitched with a wide variety of injuries, ranging from a sore shoulder, to bicep tendinitis, to a partially torn rotator cuff. His season finally ended on June 30, when he had surgery to reattach his bicep tendon and fix his torn labrum.
Lyon was signed to a three-year contract worth $15 million to be the Astros closer. With Brett Myers now the new Astros closer because of his failures, Lyon will now be an overpaid, underperforming relief pitcher that Astros fans do not like.
I don't see that improving in 2012.
After signing minor league contracts with the Kansas City Royals in 2009 and 2010, Bruce Chen earned himself a guaranteed contract for the 2011 season. After a 12-8 season with a 3.77 ERA, he parlayed that success into a two-year deal for $9 million to stick with the Royals.
All sounds good, right?
The problem is that the Royals have one of the best farm systems in all of baseball. Top prospects such as Aaron Crow, Mike Montgomery, Danny Duffy and Jake Odorizzi are all just about major league-ready. There are also major league-caliber arms such as Felipe Paulino that would not only cost less than Chen, but also provide more upside.
Chen has been nothing but a marginal pitcher throughout his entire major league career. By the time these young arms are ready, they are not going to have enough spots in the rotation for all of them.
Who is going to get the blame for that?
You guessed it: Bruce Chen.
If I had to choose a No. 1 most hated person by his team's own fanbase, Vernon Wells would have been my guy.
Not only does he have the worst contract in baseball, but he just had one of the worst seasons last year and he may prevent the Angels from keeping uber-prospect Mike Trout with the big club because of his contract. Angels fans had a brief glimpse of Trout last year and loved what they saw.
The longer they see Wells playing instead of Trout, the more unhappy with him they will become.
Despite Frank McCourt not being a part of the Dodgers organization anymore, he is far and away the most hated person by Dodgers fans.
After McCourt’s divorce, the Dodgers had to be turned over to Major League Baseball because McCourt was no longer a viable owner. Since the sudden transfer of ownership, the team’s performance has suffered tremendously, and they will continue to feel the wrath of that transfer for the foreseeable future.
The team's poor performance has led to a tremendous amount of hate towards the organization, and I do not see that changing until they find a new ownership group.
After a couple of MVP-caliber seasons, including a second-place finish in 2009, Hanley Ramirez’s laziness and lack of a team-first attitude have overshadowed his tremendous abilities to play the game of baseball.
Not only has his demeanor gotten on the nerves of the fans, but also of current and former Marlins players!
Current players such as Dan Uggla and Logan Morrison have fought with Hanley. Former Marlin great Jeff Conine talked about the issue as well. Finally, when it was on display for the world to see, even former manager Fredi Gonzalez was quoted with his frustrations regarding Ramirez's lack of effort.
On top of all that, his lackluster performance last season did nothing to help his reputation with the fans. With Jose Reyes signed in the offseason to be the new Marlins shortstop, Ramirez will need to return to his 2009 form or he may lose whatever fan support he has left.
Let me just say I firmly believe Braun is innocent.
His test should have never become public information because, at the time, he did not have the chance to appeal the positive test. That is a key part of the PED testing process, and no matter how you think Braun won his appeal, the fact that we should never have found out about the positive result should not be overlooked.
Having said that, anything or anyone remotely close to the steroids issue creates an aura of questions and doubt in the minds of Brewers fans. In fact, I am sure that when the positive test came out, many Brewers fans started to hate Braun.
I know this because I was a huge Manny Ramirez fan. When he was caught using women’s fertility drugs and was suspended as a result, my opinion of him completely changed. I had posters, autographed baseballs, the works—but nothing could change my opinion of him once the question of steroids had popped up.
While Ramirez and Braun’s situations are very different, that general idea that steroids leave a lasting impact is the same. I believe that there are many Brewers fans who will never like Braun again.
Alexi Casilla was supposed to be a stalwart in the Twins infield for years to come. With a .281 batting average plus spectacular defense in 98 games in 2008, Twins fans expected a bright future.
Since 2008, however, he has been extremely inconsistent. Casilla has bounced around between the majors and Triple-A, hitting a combined .245 over those three seasons while with the big club. He has been so inconsistent that many Twins fans have grown tired waiting for his potential and are looking for someone they can rely on.
This season may be Casilla's last chance to win the hearts of the people in Minnesota, or else next season he will be no longer be their problem.
Many people may have chosen Jason Bay here, but my choice, in a landslide, is Mike Pelfrey.
For a player with so much ability, I have never seen a pitcher with such little confidence in his stuff. His facial expressions during the game and the way he speaks in his postgame interviews is so frustrating I can barely watch him anymore.
After finally taking a step forward in 2010 by winning 15 games, his inconsistency reared its ugly head one more time with a 7-13 record in 2011. His ERAs over the last five years are as follows: 5.57, 3.72, 5.03, 3.66, 4.74. How a pitcher can be so consistently inconsistent I do not know, but every time I hope for the best, and I am always disappointed.
Pelfrey will have his share of good days, but if the Mets got rid of him, I believe Mets fans everywhere would rejoice.
Everyone who is not a Yankee fan hates the Yankees. When it comes to A-Rod, I would argue that even the Yankee fans hate him.
With his continued, ever-so-popular disappearing act in the playoffs (2009 notwithstanding), Rodriguez has never truly “earned his pinstripes.” Add to that his steroid use, celebrity status and his second contract of more than $275 million that has him making $143 million over the next six years (75 cents a second!), and he gives baseball fans everywhere plenty of reasons to hate him.
With his performance and health already in a steady decline, the hatred geared toward Rodriguez will only get worse.
With Billy Beane running this franchise, there is so much turnover that it becomes difficult for the fanbase to truly hate someone.
That is why I am thankful that they signed one of the most controversial players of our generation.
In spite of his previous successes on (555 home runs) and off the baseball field (Mannywood), his two positive tests with PEDs have scarred his name. There are fans in Oakland who will already hate him before he even plays a game, and if he does not perform when he comes off the suspended list, the rest of the fans will hop on that bandwagon.
This is more of a prediction of hate rather than Jonathan Papelbon’s current status with Phillies fans, because adding Papelbon to the 2011 Philadelphia Phillies will no doubt be an improvement for their roster.
However, the idea of paying him $39 million from 2013 through 2015, not to mention a vesting option of another $13 million for 2016, is where the hate will begin to sink in.
Papelbon always had a very explosive personality in Boston. He got on the nerves of teammates, management and fans. By the time his contract runs out in Philadelphia, he will become one of the most hated players on their ballclub not only because of his personality, but his performance will have declined greatly as well.
Despite being selected as the No. 2 overall pick in the 2008 amateur draft, Pirates fans are already getting sick of watching Alvarez play.
After showing a lot of promise in his rookie season with 16 home runs, Alvarez took a giant leap backwards last season, hitting only four home runs with a paltry .191 batting average. The Pirates organization did not show much faith in their youngster, trading for Casey McGehee as insurance if Alvarez cannot recover his swing.
I think it is way too soon to give up on a player of his caliber, but if the organization is showing such little faith, why should the fans be any different?
Chase Headley is another one of those players who has not lived up to the “top prospect” billing.
While he has turned into a respectable player, hitting .289 last season, he only had four home runs. When the fans expect a lot, and the player only hits four home runs in 439 plate appearances, playing the power position of third base no less, their initial adoration for the player quickly turns to disgust.
I think Headley has run his course in San Diego. The fans' patience with him with will get rough quickly if he does not get off to a good start in 2012.
When Barry Zito signed for seven years and $126 million with the San Francisco Giants, it was the most lucrative contract ever given out to a pitcher.
Nobody could have predicted his performance would be this bad.
In his first five seasons as a Giant, Zito has never had an ERA lower than 4.00, never pitched more than 200 innings and has never won more than 11 games! Even in the Giants' 2010 World Series run, Zito did not make a single appearance in the postseason.
After pitching only 53 innings last season due to injury, it looks as if the only way the relationship between Zito and Giants fans will improve is if he creates another music hit.
When Chone Figgins was signed away from the rival Angels, Seattle fans could not be more excited about their new addition.
He was supposed to be the Mariners' No. 2 hitter behind Ichiro and provide a dynamic on-base duo at the top of their lineup. After two years of a .236 batting average and .309 on-base percentage, Figgins has done nothing to resemble that type of hitter.
Coming in with such high expectations, Figgins has only disappointed the Mariners fanbase. He has been in the middle of trade rumors throughout the offseason, and despite being named the Mariners leadoff hitter for 2012, he continues to be hated among the fans.
As a fan, when your team wins the World Series, it is hard to really hate anyone.
I mean, how could you?
But if I had to choose someone Cardinals fans would dislike, it would be Jake Westbrook, and there are a couple of reasons why. Consider that he only pitched two innings in their postseason run. He ended the regular season with a 4.66 ERA and is still owed potentially $17 million over the next two seasons.
Combine those things with Shelby Miller—the eighth-best prospect in all of baseball, according to Baseball America—waiting in the wings, and Cardinals fans may get tired of seeing Westbrook pitch very quickly.
Bossman Junior Upton
For a player whose first name is Bossman, he has never quite lived up to some of his spectacular performances in the major leagues.
After being the second overall pick in the 2002 draft, Baseball America ranked Upton as the second-best prospect in all of baseball in 2004. Then in 2007, as a 22-year-old, he hit .300 with 24 home runs and 22 steals.
The sky was the limit.
Since that season, however, he has never matched the batting average or the power, and over the past three seasons, he has hit a combined .240 with only a .408 slugging percentage.
He still plays outstanding defense and is a perennial threat to steal 40 to 50 bases a season, but he has never fulfilled his potential and Rays fans have grown tired of waiting.
Much like with the St. Louis Cardinals, it is hard for the fans in Texas to hate someone on a team that has been so successful.
Reaching the World Series in back-to-back seasons is an incredible feat, and essentially doing it without a first baseman makes it even more impressive. That is why I believe Mitch Moreland will receive plenty of hate from Rangers fans this season, as they make him one of the main reasons their team did not win a title.
After an offseason of Prince Fielder and Albert Pujols rumors, ending up with Mitch Moreland is not necessarily the best solution, especially when there are Dallas journalists promoting how he is overrated. At the end of the day, hitting .259 with 16 home runs is not acceptable for a first baseman on a winning team. Unless Moreland improves upon his performance from last season or Pujols and/or Fielder mysteriously struggle in their new homes, I see a lot more hate coming his way.
After being acquired from the Reds for Scott Rolen in what was supposed to be a steal for the Blue Jays, Encarnacion has done nothing to make that proclamation true. While Rolen helped lead the Reds to the playoffs in 2010, Encarnacion has struggled to stay healthy and perform well when on the field.
Encarnacion had a great couple of months in July and August last season, but for his first year-and-a-half as a Blue Jay, he was often ridiculed by the fans in Toronto. Unless he beats out Travis Snider for the DH spot and produces consistently, I don’t see his reputation improving any time soon.
Jayson Werth’s debut last season was eerily similar to Carl Crawford’s, and not in a good way.
After signing a seven-year, $126 million contract with the Washington Nationals in the offseason, Werth was awful. Werth had been a .282 hitter with the Phillies who averaged 29 home runs and 84 RBI per season over three years starting for them. With the Nats, he hit .232 with only 20 homers and 58 RBI.
Due to his expensive contract and success against the Nationals in the past while with the Phillies, the fans expected a lot from Werth in his first season. After not seeing the return on their team’s investment, their love turned to hate. Without a drastic improvement in his second season, Werth is going to start hearing more cheers while playing on the road than in his home ballpark in Washington.