Hanley Ramirez and the 14 Laziest Players in Baseball
I have to admit, I have a tiny bit of a problem with calling a professional athlete lazy.
These are the guys that have reached the pinnacle of the sport after all, the best of the best. These guys obviously have the talent to set them apart from the rest of us that sit in the stands or at home on our couches and watch them play.
Their talent earns them millions of dollars a year while many of us grind out our daily 9-5s and live paycheck-to-paycheck, or at least without the luxuries these athletes can afford.
It can be frustrating, if not downright infuriating, to watch these guys fail to run out a ground ball or put half effort into a play on the field and have it result in a base runner for the opposing team.
I suppose, in some twisted way, it can even be considered a compliment that we consider certain athletes lazy. It means we know they are better than the effort we see from them on the field. We want them to live up to the full ability of their talents.
Or maybe John Kruk truly said it best when he claimed: "I'm not an athlete, I'm a baseball player."
This list was compiled very un-scientifically. Basically, I searched Google repeatedly, checked the message boards, and then cross-checked that with more blog searches to see what fans of the teams thought.
What I'm saying is that this is definitely open to debate.
Without further ado, here is my list of the 15 laziest players in the major leagues.
If you feel I left someone off the list that is more deserving of one of these players, let me know who should be added and who should be removed.
Edwin Encarnacion: Toronto Blue Jays
Encarnacion has been criticized at times throughout his career for not running out groundballs (benched while with the Reds), not hustling in the field and generally not putting much effort into his play at times.
His play so far this season seems less than inspired, perhaps earning a similar scenario this upcoming offseason if he does not turn it on soon.
Adam Dunn: Chicago White Sox
I understand that Dunn has never been good defensively, but I didn't expect to be placing him on a list of the laziest players in the sport.
Dunn has a negative defensive-WAR every year of his career. Over the course of his career, his dWAR is minus-5.6.
A Google search of "Adam Dunn lazy" results in several message board rants from Reds and Nationals fans who felt that Dunn did not put enough effort into his game, and interpretations that this meant he did not care about the team's results.
Delmon Young: Minnesota Twins
Not much research was needed to come up with this player.
Delmon Young has been called lazy dating back to his rookie season.
He's a very talented player, but his lackluster play on defense has become a common theme.
Young's slow start this year has drawn more attention his way. A career .289 hitter, he has dropped to a less-than-inspiring .246 so far this season with just a pair of homers. He had 21 homers last season.
His reputation as a lazy player earned him a trip out of Tampa, so perhaps it could earn him a ticket out of Minnesota, too.
Alfonso Soriano: Chicago Cubs
Alfonso Soriano is another player who jumped instantly to mind when I saw this topic on the assignment list.
The words "lazy" and "selfish" just seem to surface annually in connection with Soriano's name.
He doesn't put full effort into his play in the outfield (minus-6.2 dWAR for his career), he has forgotten to run out lazy fly balls, choosing instead to play them on a bounce when he may have made a play had he put more hustle into getting there in the first place.
He is slow out of the box when he feels the fielder is going to make a routine play.
He is a great hitter, but his effort is exactly what we are taught not to do when learning the game growing up.
For a great video demonstrating a lack of effort that cost Soriano a chance at an inside-the-park homer, check out this video (Click here). The only thing worse than Soriano's effort in this video is Willie Harris' effort following the missed catch.
Carlos Zambrano: Chicago Cubs
I'm not telling you something you didn't already know. Carlos Zambrano himself told you he was lazy back in 2009 following a trip to the disabled list.
At the time, he blamed his injury on a lack of ab-work, telling ESPN that "my problem is I've been lazy."
Now Cubs fans, feel free to disagree with me if you like, but it does not appear to me that Zambrano ever followed through on his promise to start putting more effort into his workout routine.
He is still targeting retirement following next season, at the ripe old age of 31? He's already stated he does not want to play anymore, but he is also unwilling to walk away from the $18 million salary attached to both the 2011 and 2012 seasons.
He's still a good pitcher, but the shame is that he could have been great if he cared.
Aramis Ramirez: Chicago Cubs
I swear, I am not trying to pick on Cubs fans here, but it just so happens that the multiple searches for lazy players yielded three Cubs players more often than not.
Aramis Ramirez is my final Cubs player to be listed as one of the laziest in the game. If you don't agree with his involvement, then you are probably among the minority few of Chicago Cubs faithful.
He has been a steady hitter throughout his career. Yes, he has dealt with slumps, but every hitter experiences slumps at different points of their careers.
He has earned the "lazy" label for his effort at times on defense.
Still, he is probably one of the 10 best third basemen in the game.
BJ Upton: Tampa Bay Rays
Here's another player with undisputed talent who has the propensity to be lazy while on defense.
Upton seems to actually have a sense of entitlement at times, thinking that his natural abilities will get him by at the Major League Baseball level.
Last season, he had to be separated from teammate Evan Longoria after Longoria approached him and called him out for a lazy play in the outfield.
Upton has also been called out by the media on more than one occasion for being thrown out at first while jogging down the line.
J.D. Drew: Boston Red Sox
J.D. Drew has never lived up to the expectations that he was saddled with following his infamous holdout and refusal to sign with the Philadelphia Phillies after they took him No. 2 overall in the 1997 draft.
He demanded no less than a $10 million signing bonus. When the Phillies refused to meet his demands, he chose to play independent league baseball instead and re-enter the draft in 1998. He certainly earned the label "greedy." He solidified that particular label when he opted out of his contract with the Los Angeles Dodgers and signed a richer contract with Boston Red Sox.
This isn't a list of the greediest players in baseball, though.
Drew earned the label of "lazy" following the release of the book 3 Nights In August. Cardinals manager Tony LaRussa stated in the book that he felt Drew didn't care for the game, and was content to "settle for 75 percent" of his talent.
Drew has been a good player throughout his career, but he has also been labeled an underachiever and, at times, a disappointment.
Maybe there was something to that assessment of his effort by LaRussa. I mean, after all, how often does a manager come out and trash a player like that?
Elvis Andrus: Texas Rangers
OK, full disclosure, I like Elvis Andrus' game. I think he is a good young player who has a successful future ahead of him.
He was recently pulled from a game, though, for "lack of effort." Andrus stated after the game that he "got a little lazy" on the error, but insisted he would make the necessary adjustments and improve.
I hope he does.
This is not the first time his effort has been questioned, though. In the past, Andrus has made lazy throws to first that have resulted in the runner beating out the throw.
Chone Figgins: Seattle Mariners
Last season, Chone Figgins tried to fight his manager in the dugout after being pulled from a game for being lazy on the field.
Being an A's writer, I have seen Figgins play plenty throughout his career with the LA Angels and I had never considered him a lazy player.
Perhaps he just falls into that group of players that refused to play for Don Wakamatsu last season, but it was the first time I had seen clear evidence that he was playing lazy, and I saw a lot of it last season.
Figgins has improved defensively this season, but offensively he is struggling. The question now has really become how much longer the Mariners will stick with him.
Andruw Jones: New York Yankees
Does anybody remember how good Andruw Jones used to be?
There is no doubt he is on the downside of his career now, and he is no longer an everyday player, but Andruw Jones was one of the biggest threats in the game in 2005-2006.
Then he lost his dedication to his preparation and never recovered.
Jones is a prime example to young players of the importance of putting your work in daily and never becoming complacent in this game.
Robinson Cano: New York Yankees
Robby Cano, don't you know?
Sorry, couldn't help myself...
I want to argue that Cano has removed the "lazy" label with his performance last season. He was an All-Star, he won the Gold Glove, he won a Silver Slugger award and he finished third in the MVP voting.
How could he be lazy?
He's off to a good start to this season, batting .284 with 13 homers and 42 RBI. He has seen a few criticisms, though, for a lack of effort on routine plays.
If he finishes this season with solid numbers, perhaps he will have shaken that label (for now).
Milton Bradley: Currently Unemployed
Milton Bradley may never play another inning of a Major League Baseball, and that is completely fine with me. He hasn't announced his retirement yet, though, so he earns a spot on this list.
Bradley was always a very talented player at every stop along his career, and he never lived up to his potential.
He either didn't want to be there, didn't like the manager, thought the manager didn't like him, wanted to fight anybody within his reach, was injured or was worried about aggravating an injury.
Whatever the reasons, he could not be trusted to give his full effort ever.
The only thing that could be counted on were the inevitable meltdowns.
Hanley Ramirez: Florida Marlins
Despite his season-long slump this year, Hanley Ramirez is a great player, one of the best in the National League.
He also has earned himself the reputation of arguably the laziest player in the game.
Ramirez found himself benched last season for a lack of hustle. It was a bold move by the Marlins manager, Fredi Gonzalez, but definitely the right move.
Ramirez has frequently found himself taking plays off, and not giving his full effort.
The guy is a MVP-caliber player (most seasons, definitely not this season), so imagine how great he could be if he committed himself to putting in the preparation and giving his maximum effort every day...