Josh Beckett and Top 10 MLB Stars Currently on Fans' Most Hated List
As the 2012 MLB season marches on midway through its second month, many fans are getting increasingly frustrated over the performance—and in some cases actions—of their favorite players.
Every player at one time or another during their career experience a slump of some kind. Some players just get off to slow starts, only to pick it up when the temperature starts rising. Others may be bothered by nagging injuries and are simply waiting to return to full health.
Whatever the reason, fans generally don't have a high degree of tolerance when it comes to waiting for their favorite stars to turn things around. Or, they became tired of boorish behavior.
Here is a list of the top 10 stars across MLB who have drawn the ire of fans across the world.
10. Jayson Werth: Washington Nationals
Just moments after Washington Nationals right fielder Jayson Werth broke his wrist attempting a shoestring catch on Sunday night against the Philadelphia Phillies, Philly fans were cheering as Werth was being escorted off the field.
Apparently, Werth was bothered enough by the fans reaction to his injury that he felt compelled to write an email to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post the following morning.
“After walking off the field feeling nauseous knowing my wrist was broke and hearing Philly fans yelling ‘You deserve it,’ and, ‘That’s what you get,’ I am motivated to get back quickly and see to it personally those people never walk down Broad Street in celebration again,” Werth wrote.
Wow. Something finally motivated Werth to actually perform on the diamond.
Wait, wasn't signing a seven-year, $126 million contract that he didn't deserve motivation enough? Wasn't the possibility of winning the NL East title over his former team motivation enough? Or, how about actually playing up to his contract—isn't that motivation enough?
If Philly fans hated Werth before his email to Kilgore, they hate him even more now.
9. Clay Buchholz: Boston Red Sox
On Friday evening, Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Clay Buchholz will attempt to break out of an early season slump that has him dead last among qualifying pitchers in ERA (9.09) and WHIP (2.02). The fact that the Sox have won three of his games started is by no means a testament of his prowess on the mound in 2012.
While his performance on the field has been putrid and gives Sox fans reason for chagrin, his actions this past week could certainly be called into question as well.
Buchholz was apparently with fellow starter Josh Beckett last Thursday on the golf course, exactly one day after Beckett had been scratched from his next start due to a sore lat muscle.
Buchholz came to Beckett's defense when asked if too much was being made over Golfgate.
"Not really," he said. "I don't think it was a big deal at all. People feel differently than I do, I guess.
"It was just like last year, the whole beer and chicken thing. It wouldn't have been a story if we would have won and went to the playoffs. There's always got to be something to talk about."
See, here's the problem, Clay. It is a big deal when your team is 12-19 and still smarting from a spectacular free fall the year before. It is a big deal to fans, who see what they regard as boorish behavior getting in the way of team goals.
It is a big deal when both pitchers off playing a round of golf are stinking up the joint.
8. Mark Reynolds: Baltimore Orioles
It's a good thing that the Baltimore Orioles are off to a 20-12 start and tied for first in the American League East.
Otherwise, third baseman Mark Reynolds might be higher on this list.
Reynolds, who has led his league in strikeouts for four consecutive seasons, is hitting just .191 with two homers thus far in 2012 and has not been a factor in the O's early season success.
Add to that his 36 strikeouts and putrid .850 fielding percentage at the hot corner, and you have a recipe for fan hatred.
It speaks volumes to how the Os feel about Reynolds that they're considering bringing back Miguel Tejada as a replacement. Add to the fact that Reynolds is owed $7.5 million this season, and you have a recipe for fan wrath.
7. Orlando Hudson: San Diego Padres
Hitting .209 may not be a reason to be hated. However, when other factors are added to the equation, it creates a feeling of hatred.
That just might aptly describe San Diego Padres second baseman Orlando Hudson.
Scott Miller of CBSSports.com reported two weeks ago that the Padres would be prepared to release Hudson if his play didn't drastically improve.
Add to that the fact that Hudson hasn't exactly endeared himself to Padres fans with his attitude and comments since joining the team.
Hudson's defense and lack of clubhouse leadership have both been called into question, and it may just be a matter of time before he is out of a job.
6. Jason Bay: New York Mets
When left fielder Jason Bay signed a four-year, $66 million contract to play for the New York Mets after posting a career year for the Boston Red Sox in 2009, it was thought that Bay would infuse big-time production into the middle of the Mets batting order for years to come.
However, Mets fans are still waiting for the "years-to-come" part.
Bay's first two years at Citi Field did not go over well. Both years combined didn't come close to matching his production in his lone season with the Red Sox. Now, Bay is sidelined with a fractured left rib after another slow start (.240 avg., three HR, five RBI in 15 games).
For his part, Bay has been a gentleman throughout, never lashing out at fans or the press for his efforts, thus far. Nonetheless, Mets fans are flummoxed.
5. Chone Figgins: Seattle Mariners
Much like Jason Bay in New York, Seattle Mariners left fielder Chone Figgins has drawn the ire of fans in the Northwest for his play since signing a four-year, $36 million contract prior to the 2010 season.
His play thus far in 2012 hasn't quieted his critics, either.
Mariners' manager Eric Wedge made the decision to move Figgins into the leadoff spot during spring training, moving long-time leadoff man Ichiro Suzuki to third in the order. Wedge's thought was that it would inspire Figgins to shake off the doldrums caused by his first two seasons with the M's.
The move backfired, as Figgins not only lost his leadoff spot, but his starting spot as well.
There have been a host of questionable signings in Mariners history, but Figgins' signing and performance on the field has made him the target on dartboards in fans' dens across the Northwest.
4. Cole Hamels: Philadelphia Phillies
When Philadelphia Phillies starting pitcher Cole Hamels made the decision to plunk heralded rookie Bryce Harper in the back in a game against the Washington Nationals last week, the act itself wouldn't have been seen as a big item in the media.
However, Hamels decided to open his mouth.
Hamels admitted throwing at Harper in comments made after the game, and he immediately drew the wrath of Nationals GM Mike Rizzo, and criticism from other established players.
“I was trying to hit him,” Hamels said. “I’m not going to deny it. That’s just — you know what, it’s something that I grew up watching, that’s what happened, so I’m just trying to continue the old baseball — I think some people kind of get away from it. I remember when I was a rookie the strike zone was really, really small and you didn’t say anything just because that’s the way baseball is. Sometimes the league is protecting certain players and making it not that old-school, prestigious way of baseball.”
In response, Rizzo called Hamels "gutless."
"Cole Hamels says he's old school?" Rizzo said. "He's the polar opposite of old school. He's fake tough. He thinks he's going to intimidate us after hitting our 19-year-old rookie who's eight games into the big leagues? He doesn't know who he's dealing with."
Both Hamels and Rizzo received punishment from Major League Baseball—Hamels a five-game suspension for his admission and Rizzo an undisclosed fine.
Atlanta Braves pitcher Tim Hudson disagreed with Hamel's take on why he hit Harper.
"Don't hate him because [Harper is] pretty hyped up," Hudson said. "He hadn't done anything to disrespect anybody. He's got some flair. But just about every kid now when they get called up just about does. It goes back to the whole travel-ball era. The kids now are treated like big leaguers when they are 12 [years old] or when they hit their first homer. I like the way he plays. He plays hard."
Detroit Tigers manager Jim Leyland also weighed in on the topic.
"I don't know Cole Hamels, so I certainly don't have any qualms with Cole Hamels. I don't know the man," Leyland said. "I know he's a very good pitcher and a very talented guy but when you come out and admit it like that. ... You know, that ball could have missed and hit him in the head or something else, I mean, when you come out and admit that I think five games is way too light, is my personal opinion."
Maybe next time Hamels will think before he actually speaks.
3. Delmon Young: Detroit Tigers
There should be no question in anyone's mind that Detroit Tigers left fielder Delmon Young is a supremely talented individual when it comes to playing baseball.
It's what happens in between Young's ears that has fans shaking their heads.
Young drew national attention back in April 2006 when he intentionally tossed his bat at a home plate umpire while playing for the Durham Bulls. Young's actions earned him a 50-game suspension and a video on YouTube that is just plain disturbing to watch.
Now, fans have something new to despise Young for.
Young received a seven-game suspension from MLB after his actions in front of a New York City hotel on Friday, Apr. 27. Young was arrested by police for second-degree aggravated harassment after hurling racial epithets at a group of tourists who offered money to a panhandler.
Young apparently became incensed after seeing that the panhandler was wearing a star of David on his neck. He then hurled racial slurs at the panhandler and accosted at least one of the tourists.
So much for turning over a new leaf.
2. Albert Pujols: Los Angeles Angels
It's difficult to put Los Angeles Angels first baseman Albert Pujols on this particular list. There may be no one in baseball who works as hard, and no one who is more motivated to succeed for the sake of his team.
However, Pujols' slow start after signing a 10-year, $240 million contract with the Halos has been grating on fans who clamor to see much more.
Pujols was booed by the locals during a game at Angel Stadium in early May, and he didn't blame the fans at all.
"If I could boo myself, I'd boo myself, too," Pujols said. "But I know better than to just get myself down. My message to the fans is that they have a reason. They have a reason to boo. I'm not performing the way that I can. But just the way that I'm patient, they need to be patient in knowing that I'm going to be here for 10 years."
Now approaching mid-May, fans are still waiting. Patience will wear thin if Albert doesn't bust out, and soon.
1. Josh Beckett: Boston Red Sox
The combination of baseball and golf is a relationship that has been enjoyed by pitchers in MLB for many years. Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and John Smoltz will attest to that. The three former Braves stars often competed against each other on the links.
However, their golf games didn't quite raise the ire of fans quite like that of Boston Red Sox starting pitcher Josh Beckett's recent round of golf.
One day after Beckett was scratched from his next start due to soreness in his lat, Beckett went golfing with teammate Clay Buchholz.
When that tidbit of news hit the press, the reaction was swift and immediate.
The fact that Beckett got lit up by the Cleveland Indians on Thursday night didn't help matters any.
In Boston, perception is reality. The beer-drinking, chicken wing-eating clubhouse fiasco that became such a newsworthy item last year gave fans a reason to hate after the Sox' spectacular free fall in September.
And this year, with the Sox off to a 12-18 start, the ire of the fans hasn't lessened.
Anything that is perceived to be questionable is going to be brought to bear, and in Beckett's case, playing a round of golf two days before missing a start is certainly perceived to be a questionable act, regardless of how it is thought of by team management.
It's all fine and good that manager Bobby Valentine doesn't think Beckett's round of golf hurt him in any way, but try telling that to a Red Sox fan base that already has a low opinion of player accountability.
Doug Mead is a featured columnist with Bleacher Report. His work has been featured on the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, SF Gate, CBS Sports, the Los Angeles Times and the Houston Chronicle. Follow Doug on Twitter, @Sports_A_Holic.