Who's the Most Hated Player in the Game of Baseball Today?
Public opinion is constantly in flux, but as the 2013 MLB regular season kicks off, who has the distinction of being baseball's most hated player? Bleacher Report responds to that inquiry by ranking the top 10 villains in the game today.
In June 2012, a Men's Journal sample of 100 active players found A.J. Pierzynski very objectionable (h/t Scott Boeck, USA Today). Alex Rodriguez and Nick Swisher also received frequent mentions in the anonymous poll.
But we're not only concerned with how the men in uniform feel. Being universally disliked also means offending umpires, coaches, fans, broadcasters, beat writers and the league itself.
Though we're dealing with an inexact science, these rankings attempted to include all the least popular individuals.
10. Bobby Jenks (Free Agent)
Haters: some MLB fans and executives, plus Ozzie Guillen.
Bobby Jenks resembles Roger Clemens, a hot-headed power pitcher who doesn't know how to shift into a lower gear.
The seven-year MLB veteran was prematurely dismissed from the Chicago White Sox (non-tendered) and Boston Red Sox (released outright).
He spoke ill of Guillen during a messy break-up.
"I'm looking forward to playing for a manager who knows how to run a bullpen," Jenks told Scott Merkin of MLB.com amid the 2010-11 offseason. Remember, though, that Guillen continued to use the right-hander as Chicago's closer the previous two summers, even as the quality of his performances began to wane.
Jenks was under investigation for intentionally hitting Ian Kinsler with a pitch in 2009 (via the Houston Chronicle).
9. Trevor Bauer (Cleveland Indians)
Haters: some MLB fans and the entire Arizona Diamondbacks organization.
Veteran catcher Miguel Montero essentially told Arizona Sports that Trevor Bauer "rubbed folks the wrong way" by refusing to listen.
It seems that Montero actually was speaking on behalf of other D-backs. Manager Kirk Gibson and Ken Kendrick, the managing general partner, also took exception with Bauer's behavior, according to Dan Bickley of The Arizona Republic.
The 22-year-old released "You Don't Know Me" as a rap response to these comments after his trade to the Cleveland Indians became official. That decision didn't resonate well with fans, who disapproved of his musical talents and immaturity.
8. Delmon Young (Philadelphia Phillies)
Haters: some MLB fans and all sabermetricians.
Major League Baseball suspended Delmon Young for a week during the 2012 season when he made anti-Semitic remarks to harass New York tourists. He later pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.
To be fair, he has since completed the required community service and issued apologies to the Jewish community.
But that doesn't let him off the hook entirely. There's still the matter of his futility on the field.
Now, fans of the Philadelphia Phillies are embarrassed to admit that the injured 27-year-old will claim an everyday role upon activation from the disabled list.
7. Alfredo Aceves (Boston Red Sox)
Haters: all Boston Red Sox fans and various teammates.
It wouldn't upset anyone if Boston traded Alfredo Aceves in the coming weeks to make room on the roster for relievers returning from injury.
Last September, he got on the wrong side of this heated exchange (via MLB.com). There's never a good reason for speaking out against a Red Sox leader like Dustin Pedroia. MLB.com's Ian Browne reminds us that just days earlier, the organization suspended him for conduct detrimental to the team.
Aceves wears No. 91 to honor Dennis Rodman, he once explained to Tyler Kepner of The New York Times. The explanation? "All the people get mad, but he wins.”
At least the right-hander has been acting more appropriately since Bobby Valentine was dismissed.
6. Ryan Braun (Milwaukee Brewers)
Haters: Los Angeles Dodgers fans and MLB officials.
Without even factoring in his positive drug test, Ryan Braun is loathed in baseball's second-largest market. He robbed Matt Kemp of 2011 NL MVP honors.
But now back to the performance-enhancing drugs.
Despite elevated testosterone levels, Braun got off the hook by claiming that the league irresponsibly handled his urine sample.
His reputation never fully recovered from the bad publicity, however.
The league won't let him exploit a loophole again. Bob Nightengale of USA Today reports that Braun is their highest-profile target after his name surfaced in records from South Florida's Biogenesis clinic.
5. Joba Chamberlain (New York Yankees)
Haters: most MLB fans, particularly those of the Boston Red Sox and New York Yankees.
Joba Chamberlain became controversial as a rookie with his habit of fist-pumping after escaping late-inning jams. It wasn't anything original (plenty of other adrenaline-filled relievers made similar motions), but the setup man's effectiveness and fanbase made him the poster child.
Rival pitchers grew envious during subsequent seasons as media outlets obsessed over the "Joba Rules" and starter/reliever debate. It's 2013 and Chamberlain still hasn't accepted his role in the bullpen, writes Mark Feinsand of the Daily News.
Along the way, the right-hander humiliated his fans by suffering a serious ankle injury at a trampoline complex the previous spring (via John Harper, Daily News).
4. Colby Rasmus (Toronto Blue Jays)
Haters: St. Louis Cardinals and Toronto Blue Jays fans, Tony La Russa.
Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch called Colby Rasmus "woefully out of place" during his time in St. Louis. He was "an unhappy player that was sucking life from the group."
His first comments following the trade that sent him to Toronto justify Gordon's column (via John Lott, National Post).
The center fielder bashed the Cardinals faithful for being "upset" with him. He blamed his past slumps on injuries and claimed his previous teammates wanted to "beat [him] down."
Talk about burning bridges!
Before moving day finally arrived in July 2011, the former first-round draft pick had publicly requested a trade. According to MLB.com, he even feuded with La Russa, someone with four more decades of baseball experience.
Rasmus isn't off to a particularly good start in 2013, either. He completed the hat trick by whiffing in the bottom of the ninth inning to seal a loss for the Blue Jays in their home opener.
3. Manny Ramirez (EDA Rhinos)
Haters: all MLB general managers, most fans and former teammates.
Manny Ramirez is a repeat violator of Major League Baseball's drug program (2009 and 2011), so front offices probably see him as a negative influence.
He has always had a reputation as a lollygagger. The All-Star slugger was notoriously ineffective in the outfield and often criticized for not hustling on the basepaths.
At least Ramirez stays true to himself.
Here is how Ramona Shelburne of ESPNLosAngeles.com described him in early 2010:
He's also blown me off half-a-dozen times. He's been, among other things: Charming, rude, playful, aloof, warm, distant, honest and, of course, pretty much the best hitter I've ever seen; a contradiction in terms which, based on everything we'd heard from the Clevelanders and New Englanders who'd also once presumed to have known him, actually sounds pretty consistent.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports wrote about his me-first attitude after his initial retirement two years ago:
"He consistently quit on teams. And while he worked hard, it was only on his terms. ... Ramirez had a warped set of values. He embodied selfishness."
Yup, "Manny being Manny."
Certainly, Ramirez would rank higher on this list if he were still in the United States. But the anger toward him is gradually cooling during his stint with Taiwan's EDA Rhinos.
2. A.J. Pierzynski (Texas Rangers)
Haters: most MLB players, executives and fans.
A.J. Pierzynski has been known as an obnoxious trash-talker since his first seasons in the majors.
The backstop is arguably best known for provoking Chicago Cubs catcher Michael Barrett after this home-plate collision in 2006 (courtesy of MLB.com). It's hard to fault Barrett for responding.
Fast-forward a half-dozen years and Pierzynski hasn't changed.
One of his "supporters" in the aforementioned player poll listed several criticisms:
"(Pierzynski) likes to talk a lot of (stuff), and I've heard he's a bad teammate," one National League pitcher tells Men's Journal. "He's been (mean) 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."
Pierzynski receives especially loud boos from crowds at every road game and even turns off GMs with his personality. Otherwise, coming off a career year (27 HR, .827 OPS), he would have been choosing between multi-year offers.
1. Alex Rodriguez (New York Yankees)
Haters: pretty much every MLB fan and league official, former teammates and high-profile ex-girlfriends.
Where to begin?
Subjective accounts from sportswriter Selena Roberts (A-Rod: The Many Lives of Alex Rodriguez) and former manager Joe Torre (The Yankee Years) emphasize his insatiable craving for attention.
Testimonies from other players haven't been complimentary, either.
R.A. Dickey's biography includes an anecdote from when they were teammates on the Texas Rangers. A-Rod took credit for a complete-game shutout, but did not do the same in a losing effort (h/t Scott Miller, CBS Sports). It's also no coincidence that the All-Star third baseman has been plunked 167 times, second among active batters.
Rodriguez vehemently denied PED use for years until Roberts linked him to steroids with an in-depth SI.com article. More recently, he has been unwilling to come clean about alleged involvement with Biogenesis.
Baseball fans, meanwhile, resent the fact that the three-time American League MVP used his tainted stats to secure the largest contract in professional sports history.
You'll find Ely more likable than any of these players!