The 10 Most Irritating Players in MLB

Ben StepanskyCorrespondent IDecember 11, 2012

The 10 Most Irritating Players in MLB

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    They may be the best at the game, but professional baseball players are far from perfect. 

    Whether it is poor judgment, a hot temper or a rotten attitude, many of our favorite (or not so favorite) stars possess faults similar to our own.

    Truthfully, some players appear downright spoiled with their fat paychecks and their baggy baseball pants—seriously, when did that become a thing?

    And in some cases, a ballplayer's abrasive or confrontational demeanor can be simply irritating.

    Here are 10 role models who made the list.

10. Cole Hamels

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    I might catch some flak by putting Cole Hamels on this list, but in the eyes of a budding rivalry between the Washington Nationals and their NL East foe, the Philadelphia Phillies, Hamels may be the one spitting fire.

    During an early-season series, Hamels drilled rookie Bryce Harper with a pitch and was very vocal with his intent, "I was trying to hit him. I mean, I'm not going to deny it."

    Nats GM, Mike Rizzo, rebuked Hamels' claim to be an "old school" type pitcher. He had a few choice words for the Phillies southpaw after the game (via The Washington Post):

    I’ve never seen a more classless, gutless chicken [bleep] act in my 30 years in baseball. Cole Hamels says he’s old school? He’s the polar opposite of old school. He’s fake tough.

    That tough guy persona, and a stellar 2012 season, landed Hamels a six-year, $144 million contract extension with the Phillies.

    I guess the five-game suspension and minimal fine was worth it.

9. Alfredo Aceves

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    It's hard to blame Alfredo Aceves for his irritating nature during the 2012 season. It was, in part, due to his belittling manager, Bobby Valentine.

    When Aceves wasn't given the opportunity to start out of spring training, he stepped into the vacant closer role. He performed well through July before derailing at the end of the season, finishing with 25 saves and a 5.36 ERA.

    August and September were particularly ugly for Aceves' reputation as he threw multiple tantrums. 

    One involved storming into and out of Valentine's office, slamming the door each time, after the manager called on Andrew Bailey to save a close game. A week later, Aceves got into a yelling match with second baseman Dustin Pedroia after consecutive miscommunications on pickoff attempts.

    There was even an instance when Valentine called on a reliever to replace Aceves, who handed the ball to catcher Jarrod Saltalamacchia and took a long route around the mound to avoid interacting with Valentine.

    Aceves' role in 2013 is yet to be determined, but his relationship with new manager John Farrell will certainly be better than the last.

8. Yunel Escobar

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    Yunel Escobar makes this list for his one infamous moment during the 2012 season that resulted in a three-game suspension.

    In a mid-September game, Escobar, who is known to display writing on his eye black, featured a gay slur while playing in an MLB game.

    The ignorance necessary for a professional baseball player to make this embarrassing mistake is astounding. 

    Escobar released a statement insisting the message was intended as a joke and issued a weak apology, stating, "I'm sorry for my actions the other day. I don't have anything against homosexuals. I have friends who are gay" (via Yahoo! Sports). 

    Yahoo Sports MLB writer Jeff Passan wrote a fantastic article after the incident on the larger issue at hand. That is, how negative sports media regarding homosexuals trumps the more meaningful yet infrequent positive messages.

7. Melky Cabrera

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    Remember the words of your parents whenever you'd screw up as a kid: "Apologize and accept your actions."

    Melky Cabrera must have forgotten that rule.

    Faced with a 50-game suspension for PED use, Cabrera and fellow schemer Juan Nunez thought it would be a good idea to create a fake website to fool MLB investigators and the players' union. The website was to feature a made-up product that would have caused Cabrera's positive test.

    Spoiler alert: the ploy failed.

    Ah, the plot thickens.

    The nerve Cabrera had to attempt to dupe the MLB is flat out irritating. What ever happened to taking it like a man?

    And to think this nut job just landed a two-year deal. The nerve!

6. Ubaldo Jimenez

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    Ubaldo Jimenez and the Colorado Rockies had an ugly break up.

    After a 2010 season in which he went 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA and 214 strikeouts, finishing third in NL Cy Young voting, Jimenez felt a lack of respect from the Rockies organization when $200 million in contract extensions were handed to Carlos Gonzalez and Troy Tulowitzki.

    A poor 2011 showing resulted in a trade to the Cleveland Indians.

    During a late spring training game against his former club, Jimenez drilled Tulowitzki in the elbow causing the benches to clear.

    Tulo certainly didn't appreciate the bad blood and Rockies manager Jim Tracy wasn't pleased either (via Yahoo! Sports):

    Five days before opening day, you're going to take a pot shot like that? It's the worst I've ever seen. I've lost all respect for him, and that's a very difficult thing for me to say with all the players I've had to manage over the years. I've lost all respect for him, every bit.

    It seems the discontent from his final days in Colorado has yet to fade away as Jimenez lost a league-leading 17 games in 2012.

5. Jonathan Papelbon

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    Jonathan Papelbon signed the largest contract for an MLB closer last offseason, a four-year, $50 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies.

    Some would argue his output, and now his wallet, gives him the right to speak his mind.

    To a certain extent, yes.

    However, Papelbon has never been shy to share his thoughts.

    During the 2008 season, the Boston Red Sox traded Manny Ramirez to the Los Angeles Dodgers. Later that offseason, the closer shared his thoughts on Ramirez in an interview with Esquire:

    It just takes one guy to bring an entire team down, and that’s exactly what was happening. Once we saw that, we weren’t afraid to get rid of him. It’s like cancer. That’s what he was. Cancer. He had to go. It sucked, but that was the only scenario that was going to work.

    More recently, after his departure from Boston, Papelbon admitted his true feelings when comparing Red Sox and Phillies fans, saying those in Philadelphia "tend to know the game a little better", while the ones in Boston "are a little bit more hysterical when it comes to the game of baseball" (via CBS Philadelphia).

    Needless to say, Papelbon's relationship with the Fenway Faithful is on bad terms.

4. Josh Beckett

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    It pains me to include Josh Beckett on this list because he was such a wonderful, young talent with the Florida Marlins and played a crucial role in the Red Sox 2007 World Series championship.

    Otherwise, where does one begin in regards to Beckett's disappearing professionalism?

    There was the infamous quote, "I spend my off-days the way I want to spend them. My off-day is my off-day" in response to the media questioning his choice to go golfing after being scratched from a May 2012 start.

    There were phantom back injuries that would cause Beckett to miss starts. There were implications that he was the ringleader of the "chicken and beer" fiasco that plagued the 2011 Red Sox. There were multiple cases of elitism and a lack of accountability surrounding Beckett in his final year in Boston.

    Sadly for him, Sox fans were happy to see him go at the trade deadline.

3. Alex Rodriguez

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    Ah, the player everyone (even Yankee fans) loves to hate, Mr. Alex Rodriguez.

    Whether it's a 2012 Men's Journal survey of 100 anonymous MLB players who voted him the second-most hated player in the game, a 2011 Sports Illustrated players' poll that ranked him as the most overrated player in baseball or A-Rod being his egotistical self, Rodriguez just can't seem to get along.

    Three MVP awards (2003, 2005 and 2007) over a five-year span would normally garner respect among ones peers, but A-Rod has butted heads with management, players and even agents over his 19-year career.

    One of the lowest points Rodriguez sunk to was announcing his decision to opt out of his contract with the Yankees during Game 4 of the 2007 World Series, which the Red Sox would clinch. Rodriguez's agent, Scott Boras, would apologize for the inexplicably bad timing but not without a slap on the wrist.

    An admitted user of steroids, A-Rod has begun to feel the adverse affects of his age, however is still under contract for five more seasons.

    Scorned are the hands of time.

2. Carlos Zambrano

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    It's unfortunate that Carlos Zambrano's legacy will linger not for his pitching but for his temper. 

    A pitcher, who from 2003 through 2010 consistently recorded an ERA under 4.00 and tallied more wins than losses, Zambrano's volatile attitude has resulted in benchings and suspensions over his 12-year career.

    Two instances that particularly stand out are his 2010 dugout confrontation with first baseman and teammate Derrek Lee and his 2011 meltdown against the Atlanta Braves.

    In the first scenario, after surrendering four runs in the bottom of the first inning, Zambrano and Lee got into a screaming match in their dugout. Then manager Lou Piniella had to break it up and Zambrano was suspended indefinitely.

    In 2011, Zambrano allowed a franchise record five home runs, threw inside twice to Chipper Jones, was ejected and proceeded to clear his locker and announce he was quitting.

    Zambrano was traded to the Miami Marlins for the 2012 season and, though he had a subpar season statistically, has kept his temper under control.

1. A.J. Pierzynski

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    "Being a bad guy is definitely easier than being the good guy, especially in wrestling."

    Wait, what?

    A.J. Pierzynski loves playing the bad guy role, even in his professional wrestling career.

    I guess that's what makes him so irritating. 

    In the 2011 Men's Journal survey mentioned earlier, Pierzynski was the top vote-getter for the most hated player in baseball with 34 percent of the vote.

    One anonymous player was quoted as saying:

    He likes to talk a lot of sh**, and I’ve heard he’s a bad teammate. He’s been a prick to guys on his own pitching staff. Basically, if you haven’t got five years in the big leagues, he treats you like you’re a peasant. He’s that kind of guy.

    Whether the latter part of that statement is true or not, it can definitely be agreed upon that Pierzynski takes the cake as the most irritating player in baseball. He finds himself in the middle of scuffles, talks trash and can produce on the field.

    His hitting and fielding abilities certainly back up his volcanic behavior, proven by his 2005 World Series championship with the Chicago White Sox.

    Just don't try and take him down in a fight—the man has a legitimate wrestling belt.