Every MLB Team's Biggest Cheater of All Time
Where there is competition, there will be cheating.
In baseball, there are ways one can apply the word "cheating" and have it not be construed as a bad thing. For example, as Merriam-Websters dictionary defines it: "to position oneself defensively near a particular area in anticipation of a play in that area." As an example: "The shortstop was cheating toward second base."
A batter can "cheat" on a pitch, meaning that he can be anticipating a certain pitch and start his swing prematurely.
Then there is the actual negative connotation of the word.
Throughout the history of the game, there have been players that have been accused and found guilty of breaking the rules of the game for their own competitive advantage. Everything from corked bats, doctoring baseballs and, yes, even steroids have come to pass.
Here is a look at every MLB team's biggest cheater in team history.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Matt Williams
Though one of the "newer" expansion teams in baseball, the Arizona Diamondbacks are not absolved of guilt.
In an article posted on ESPN.com on December 13, 2007, 14 former members of the Arizona Diamondbacks were named in the Mitchell Report as having ties to steroid use.
On that list the two biggest names were Troy Glaus and Matt Williams.
The rest of the list included: Jack Cust, Jason Grimsley, Chris Donnels, Stephen Randolph, Jose Guillan, Matt Herges, Jim Parque, Bobby Estalella, Ron Villone and Darren Holmes.
Williams had already established himself as a premier hitter for the San Francisco Giants from the late 1980s through mid-1990s.
He had led the league in both home runs and RBI once while racking up four All-Star appearances, three Silver Slugger Awards and three Gold Gloves before signing with Cleveland for a year, where he added another Silver Slugger and Gold Glove to his resume.
Upon his arrival in Arizona, Williams had played in just 444 games over the previous four seasons and was starting to show signs of aging and breaking down.
His first two seasons in the desert would be spent proving that he still had a lot to offer, playing in 289 games with increasingly good offensive numbers.
1999 would prove to be his best season with Arizona. His batting average went from .267 in 1998 to .303 in 1999. Like his batting average, other totals increased dramatically: RBIs went from 71 to 142, home runs went from 20 to 35, hits in general went from 136 to 190 and he managed to stay healthy in 19 more games, appearing in 154 versus 135.
Atlanta Braves: John Rocker
If nothing else, John Rocker has always been a lightning rod when it comes to controversy.
Therefore it should come as no surprise that back in December of 2011 when he had a book coming out, the former Braves pitcher copped to having used steroids.
According to USA Today, when asked if taking steroids made him a better pitcher, Rocker had this to say:
No. Can I throw 3 or 4 mph harder because of it? Yes. Was my breaking ball better because of it? No.
The reason was (for taking it) with my teammates and their confidence laying on my shoulders, with the coaching staff and their confidence on my shoulders, with the millions of Atlanta Braves fans, I am not going to step on that mound with that kind of responsibility with my gun half loaded. Knowing the people I am going to be facing, I know what they're doing; I am not coming to the mound halfcocked.
While there have been other names tied to cheating from the Braves organization, such as Gary Sheffield, David Justice, Denny Neagle, Todd Pratt, Kent Mercker, Mike Stanton, Paul Byrd and Matt Franco, none have been more blunt about their use.
There have been other scandals as well.
In a piece written for NBC Sports Hardball Talk, Craig Calcaterra has former Braves pitching coach Leo Mazzone quoted as admitting that John Smoltz had used pine-tar to aid his pitches.
Well, you had pine tar, that’s for sure, because when you were in the postseason and it got called, one time Smoltzy had it on his shoes and I said, ‘John, you can’t keep bending over and touching your shoes all the time. Let’s put it someplace else!’ (laughs).
That said, this has never been verified, so what we have to go on is the word of an outspoken pitcher in Rocker, whose quotes historically have been bad for baseball, let alone the Braves organization.
Baltimore Orioles: Rafael Palmeiro
"I have never used steroids. Period. I don't know how to say it any more clearly than that. Never."
Those were the words emphasized with a pointed finger that came out of the mouth of Rafael Palmeiro at a Congressional Hearing on March 17, 2005
Fast forward almost five months later, and Palmeiro would in fact test positive for steroids and then would go on to release the statement as recorded by BaseballsSteroidEra.com: "I have never intentionally used steroids. Never. Ever. Period."
The funny thing about this list was that Palmeiro, surprisingly, was not the first Oriole to come to mind for me. That honor belongs to Brady Anderson and his 50-home-run 1996 season. However, obviously the evidence points at the former Oriole with the bigger career numbers and reputation.
Palmeiro spent his prime years in Baltimore, from age 29 to 33, then would return to close out his career at 39 and 40.
For the Orioles, Palmeiro would receive MVP votes year after year and took home a Gold Glove in 1997.
At the time of his failed drug test, he was only the seventh player to test positive for steroids after the toughened penalties were enforced that March, but as ESPN.com stated, he was clearly the most high-profile player to do so.
Palmeiro ended his career with 3,020 hits, 569 home runs, a .288 lifetime average, four All-Star appearances, three Gold Gloves and two Silver Slugger Awards—in other words, what could be considered Hall of Fame numbers.
Boston Red Sox: Manny Ramirez
While the Boston Red Sox are by no means clean in terms of steroids in baseball, there is no more obvious violator than Manny Ramirez.
Initially named as one of the players who failed the 2003 "anonymous" tests, Ramirez has had a difficult time keeping his affinity for the juice under wraps since more stringent testing began.
Since that time, Ramirez failed a drug test with the Los Angeles Dodgers and served a 50-game suspension.
Later, prior to even kicking off the 2011 season with the Tampa Bay Rays, Ramirez once again failed a test, and rather than face the suspension, he opted to retire.
It is hard to believe that Manny was doing anything clean during his entire baseball career, which is sad. When in his prime, a Manny Ramirez at-bat was appointment viewing, especially when back-to-back with David Ortiz.
For the Red Sox, Ramirez hit 274 home runs and drove in 868 RBI while maintaining a .312 average during his eight seasons in the hub.
Chicago Cubs: Sammy Sosa
Steroid allegations? Check.
Corked bat? Check.
Inexplicable loss of otherwise fluent English when questioned on either count? Check.
Sammy Sosa was absolutely one of the most exciting players to watch during the late 1990s and early 2000s. For all of his faults, alongside Mark McGwire, they brought renewed interest to the game of baseball on a national level.
Every morning in 1998, ESPN would run pieces on the home run chase between Sosa and Big Mac. The game needed something like this, and Sosa helped deliver it.
That said, he still is a cheater in the eyes of the masses.
Sosa is the only player in Major League Baseball history to hit 60 or more home runs three times in his career. The funny thing is, even though that is the case, he didn't lead the league in homers any of those seasons.
On June 3, 2003 Sosa was suspended for eight games for corking a bat, which served as a precursor to bad things to come. That same year he failed an anonymous drug test for a performance enhancer, as reported by the New York Times in 2009.
Chicago White Sox: Arnold "Chick" Gandil
Chick Gandil was the mastermind behind the Black Sox scandal of 1919.
This became a permanent (no pun intended) black mark on the organization that is still talked about to this day.
Eight members of the Chicago White Sox were banned from baseball for life for intentionally losing games, allowing the Cincinnati Reds to win the 1919 World Series, orchestrated by Gandil and his ties to the criminal underworld.
While cheating by most accords is so that one can have a competitive advantage, this is cheating in the worst sense—altering how you play the game purely for capital gains.
Cincinnati Reds: Pete Rose
The Cincinnati Reds have a few scuff marks on their record over the years.
There was Chris Sabo's corked bat on July 29, 1996, which led to a seven-game suspension and the Reds being fined $25,000 for "rubber balls" in the bat.
Then, of course, there was St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa accusing Reds pitcher Bronson Arroyo of using pine tar on his pitches during a 2009 Reds' 6-1 victory over the Cardinals.
None, however, are more egregious than Pete Rose gambling on the game of baseball.
Rose can say that he bet only on the Reds, but that would require you to take him at his word. If you place a bet on a game in which you have an opportunity to alter the results of, that, in my book, is cheating.
Arguably the greatest Red of all time, Rose was banned for life from Major League Baseball for betting on the Cincinnati Reds both as a player and a manager.
A punishment he willfully agreed to accept.
In 2004, after years of denying he had done so, Rose admitted that he had bet on the Reds and has been seeking reinstatement from baseball ever since.
Cleveland Indians: Albert Belle
In what continues to be a list of players who garner controversy, Albert Belle is up next for the Cleveland Indians.
Widely regarded as one of the most feared sluggers of his generation, Albert Belle was a fierce hitter with a bad attitude to match.
He was the first player to ever hit 50 home runs and 50 doubles in a single season, coming in 1995. Belle had eight consecutive seasons hitting 30 or more home runs while having nine consecutive seasons of 100 or more RBI.
In the middle of it all, on July 15, 1994, Belle was suspended seven games or using a corked bat.
Though never implicated in any steroid use, Belle had questions raised about him throughout his career. In a 2009 interview on Cleveland.com, Belle called for the names of all 101 players on the Mitchell Report to be made public.
When asked if he ever used steroids, Belle said:
I never did. I didn't need to. All you have to do is check the trainers' weight charts. Every year I'd come to camp weighing 225 to 230 and end the season at about 215 to 220.
Other than Belle, the Indians have been a fairly clean franchise, unless of course you want to include Charlie Sheen's steroid use as Ricky "Wild Thing" Vaughn.
Colorado Rockies: Mike Jacobs
Baseball fans are likely scratching their heads at this one.
Generally speaking, the Rockies have been a cleanly run franchise. No player has ever been accused of or convicted of corking a bat. The list of players who were named on the Mitchell Report included players like Jack Cust, whose time was over in Colorado before it ever really began.
The biggest controversy having come in 2010 when ESPN's Jon Miller accused the franchise of using purposely unregulated baseballs at certain points during a game if the team were behind. Typically, the team keeps the game supply of baseballs in a regulated humidor. The accusation was that this was not the case when the Rockies needed a boost.
That said, Mike Jacobs is a player in the Rockies' minor league system, but his claim to fame is the first player suspended by Major League Baseball for testing positive for HGH under the latest drug testing policy.
Detroit Tigers: Neifi Perez
It's one thing to be a cheater and get caught doing so.
It's another thing being a cheater, getting caught once, serving your suspension, then getting caught again in the same season.
So would be the case for Neifi Perez in 2007 as a member of the Detroit Tigers.
He initially was suspended for testing positive to performance-enhancing drugs on July 6, 2007 for 25 games. Literally, right after his return, on August 3, 2007, he tested positive and was suspended for 80 games.
The utility man has not played a game in the majors since that season.
Houston Astros: Billy Hatcher
Yes, Billy Hatcher.
The Astros are a team that has seen numerous players pass through their doors that have seen ties to cheating in baseball. There was Miguel Tejada, Ken Caminiti, Roger Clemens and some people even think that Jeff Bagwell was guilty of PED use.
The fact of the matter is, with Tejeda, he was already on the decline. Caminiti's career numbers suggest he juiced in San Diego. Clemens never failed a test in Houston, and Bagwell has never been formally accused or tested positive.
That leaves Billy Hatcher, the journeyman outfielder who was found guilty of and suspended for corking a bat back on August 31, 1987. He would serve a 10-game suspension.
It's worth noting that 1987 was Hatcher's best season in the majors. His 11 home runs, 63 RBI, .296/.352/.415/.767 were all career highs.
Kansas City Royals: Luis Ugueto
When a player's profile on Baseball-Reference lists him as a pinch-runner first, you can be sure he wasn't exactly an impact player.
Having only two seasons worth of major league experience, Luis Ugueto isn't exactly a household name. Back in 2005, while in the Royals' minor-league system, he did get to have his name muttered a couple of times...for failing two PED tests.
The first time came on May 15, 2005 whereby he was suspended for 15 games.
The second was August 16, 2005 whereby he was suspended for 30 games.
There was, of course, Paul Byrd, who admitted to using HGH as prescribed by a doctor from 2002 (his last year with Kansas City) through 2005.
Of course, there was also Jose Guillen, who tested positive in 2007. However, repeat offenders take the cake.
Los Angeles Angels: Troy Glaus
The 2002 World Series MVP, four-time All-Star and two-time Silver Slugger Award recipient allegedly received steroids through an internet distribution network.
While Glaus has never admitted to having used steroids, he was implicated in the Mitchell Report.
The implication is that Glaus received steroids from 2003 to 2004, two seasons in which he was injury-plagued, playing a combined 149 games.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Eric Gagne
Eric Gagne owned up to his steroid usage in 2008 as a member of the Milwaukee Brewers, speaking on his time with the Los Angeles Dodgers.
Accodring to baseballssteroidera.com:
Gagne was referred to Kirk Radomski by Paul Lo Duca according to Radomski. Radomski said he sold Gagne human growth hormone on two occasions. Radomski said he and Gagne only spoke once (regarding how to get air out of a syringe) while Gagne was with Lo Duca.
After that, according to Radomski, Lo Duca placed orders on Gagne's behalf. Payment was made by through Lo duca once and directly from Gagne the other time. Both times shipments were sent directly to Gagne, once to Dodger Stadium and the other to Gagne's home.
The report cited an Express Mail receipt corroborating a 2004 delivery. Gagne's name, address, and phone number were found in Radomski's address book.
At his peak, Gagne was unstoppable. The 2003 NL Cy Young Award winner had a stretch of three seasons where nobody could touch him, as he compiled an amazing 194 saves in that short amount of time.
Miami Marlins: Ronny Paulino
Citing a diet pill as the cause of his failed drug test, catcher Ronny Paulino was suspended 50 games for testing positive for steroids in 2010.
Paulino was the first player on the Marlins to fail a drug test. While other former members of the team had been rumored (or later admitted to use: see Gary Sheffield), none could be confirmed to have happened under the watch of the Marlins.
That is, until Paulino came along.
Milwaukee Brewers: Ryan Braun
Ryan Braun failed a drug test, then proved himself innocent of the allegation according to an arbitrator's ruling. It should be an open-and-shut situation, no?
The problem is that the court of public opinion still rules over all.
Questions will linger about Braun for years to come, especially if he now starts to slump from his expected performance levels.
Minnesota Twins: Dan Naulty
The subject of an excellent piece written by Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci, Dan Naulty was never a superstar and only lasted four seasons in the majors.
That said, his story is fascinating.
As a young pitcher facing tough competition to get to the next level, he felt compelled to do whatever it took, which included taking steroids.
New York Mets: Yusaku Iriki
A 50-game suspension is no small potatoes, and that is what was handed down to New York Mets pitcher Yusaku Iriki.
Iriki failed a PED test during the spring of 2006.
The Mets, like many other teams, have had several high-profile steroid users pass through their system, but only Iriki has failed a test for the team or copped to have had used PEDs while with the Mets.
New York Yankees: Andy Pettitte
Andy Pettitte may not be the most egregious offender the New York Yankees have ever had, but in the opinion of this writer, it was the most disappointing.
Pettitte always came across as a hard-working, nose-to-the-grindstone type of player. When he admitted to using HGH, it was crushing.
Yes, the Yankees could fire off names like Gary Sheffield or Jason Giambi, for example, but as I said, Pettitte was surprising to say the least.
Oakland Athletics: Jose Canseco
The man who blew the roof off of steroid use in baseball is the obvious choice for the Oakland A's.
While many want to knock Canseco, I think MLB owes a large debt to the man for being brave enough (read: broke enough?) to write a book exposing all of his former friends and teammates.
In all seriousness, though, Canseco should be applauded for the brutal honesty he came forth with regarding the impact steroids had on his career.
Philadelphia Phillies: Lenny Dykstra
Though he's never owned up to any steroid use in his career, Lenny Dykstra has had his share of fingers being pointed at him to say the contrary.
Dykstra found his name on the Mitchell Report, which cited multiple sources, including Kirk Radomski, stating that Dykstra used anabolic steroids during his career.
The irony is that supposedly the Commissioner of Baseball's office had known about Dykstra's steroid use since 2000.
On December 20, 2007, Dykstra was also named in Jason Grimsley's unsealed affidavit as an alleged user of steroids.
Pittsburgh Pirates: The Cocaine Seven
Without going in to a book's worth of detail, the 1980s were a rough time in baseball in terms of drug use.
While technically not constituting cheating, it was the fans that were cheated by the actions of 11 members of the Pittsburgh Pirates who were using illegal drugs for recreational use.
Seven of those players were using cocaine: Joaquín Andújar, Dale Berra, Enos Cabell, Keith Hernandez, Jeffrey Leonard, Dave Parker and Lonnie Smith.
This resulted in the harshest penalties to be handed out in Major League Baseball since the Black Sox Scandal of 1919.
San Diego Padres: Ken Caminiti
The late Ken Caminiti said he felt like Superman when he was on steroids. His numbers reflected that sentiment.
Caminitti openly admitted using steroids during his 1996 NL MVP season and for several seasons thereafter.
Looking at his career numbers, one can pretty easily guess what years he juiced and what years he did not.
San Francisco Giants: Barry Bonds
Arguably the most polarizing figure in terms of baseball history, Barry Bonds is widely believed to have used steroids during his career.
In the court of public opinion, he's a guilty man.
In the same vein that Ryan Braun will be considered a guilty man for years to come, so too will Bonds. The problem is, Bonds holds the game's most sacred record, 762 home runs.
Seattle Mariners: Gaylord Perry
Why on earth did it take me so long to list Gaylord Perry?
Though Perry was basically known as a notorious spitball pitcher, he had never been caught doctoring a baseball at all during his career.
That changed in his final season as a major league pitcher, on August 23, 1982, in his 21st season in the majors, when he was finally ejected from a game for it.
St. Louis Cardinals: Mark McGwire
Big Mac helped bring the game of baseball back to life with his riveting single-season home run record chase in 1998 alongside Sammy Sosa.
It was breathtaking; we all were enamored with the chase.
Then, the blinders came off and the realization that what we as observers were witnessing was chemically altered.
I would be a hypocrite to say I feel betrayed, because I don't. I had a lot of fun watching the chase and seeing the game of baseball get the recognition it deserved.
Tampa Bay Rays: Manny Ramirez
Could it be? Manny Ramirez is the biggest cheater in TWO different team histories?
You bet he is, especially when, faced with a 100-game suspension, he gives up on his team and retires rather than serve it.
Texas Rangers: Alex Rodriguez
While having only spent three seasons playing in Texas, Alex Rodriguez admitted to using performance-enhancing drugs from 2001-2003.
Arguably the most high-profile player on this list, he had tested positive for two anabolic steroids in 2003.
To find out that the man many thought would cleanly take the crown from Barry Bonds left many fans disappointed, while giving his haters more fuel for the fire.
Toronto Blue Jays: Brian McNamee
Hats off to the Toronto Blue Jays as a whole.
The only player I ran across from the organization who ever failed any steroid tests was a minor league player that you nor I care about at this point.
That leaves the finger-pointing at the one-time personal trainer, Brian McNamee, who has testified to supplying steroids to top-tier baseball players like one-time Blue Jay Roger Clemens.
On the list of users is also a player by the name of Jose Canseco who spent time in Toronto and easily could have filled this slot as well.
Washington Nationals: David Segui Via Montreal Expos
I'm reaching here.
The Nationals have been a very cleanly run franchise since coming to Washington, and I've found no major blemishes on their record since arriving stateside.
Now, with a franchise like this, I could have looked back at old Washington teams, or go the direct route and trace back to the Montreal Expos with implicated HGH user, David Segui.
Since this occurred back in the 1990s, the Nats essentially earn a free pass in my book.