MLB Power Rankings: The 33 Biggest Egos in Baseball History

Adrian FedkiwAnalyst IIIJuly 18, 2011

MLB Power Rankings: The 33 Biggest Egos in Baseball History

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    Before I get started, I have to quickly talk about the biggest ego in baseball history...George Steinbrenner. (I kept this list to players only.)

    He proclaimed in order to make money you have to spend money. He wasn't the cheapest owner. The Boss always signed all of the top free agents.

    In a 20-year period, he hired and fired 20 managers, including Billy Martin five times.

    He was truly the first owner who dictated an entire organization.

    As for the "egos" on this list, the term doesn't necessarily have to have a bad connotation to it. Some players thrived off their egos, some were clubhouse cancers, while some had quiet and confident demeanors. 

33. Bryce Harper

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    Granted, Bryce Harper's just 18 years old, but blowing kisses to the opposing pitcher while hitting a home run is simply unnecessary.

    Harper had a case of the "why should I be here" attitude when he started off the year in Single-A Hagerstown. He showed up late during team stretches and even left early on occasion.

    Harper has recently been promoted to Double-A Harrisburg.

    Again, he's just 18, but Harper has a lot of growing up to do.

32. Curt Flood

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    No, he didn't win the court case, and Curt Flood really didn't have the largest ego. But he's responsible for the start of the revolution known as free agency.

    It changed the game forever.

    It's one of the main reasons we continue to see a rise in contract demands from the star players.

    There's more ego-driven players in today's game than there has ever been.

    Some guy thinks he's better than this guy, so he wants to get paid more than that guy. And it goes on and on.

    For instance...

31. Albert Pujols

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    Albert Pujols is the best player in the game and wants to get paid like it. And let me make it clear that he's one of the classiest individuals in the game.

    Alex Rodriguez got a 10-year, $250 million contract from the Texas Rangers. Pujols is reportedly seeking 10 years for $300 million.

    He already turned down an eight-year, $200 million contract before spring training.

    I fully expect Pujols and the Cardinals to find a way to work out a deal, but I thought the same thing would happen with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    If he stays a Cardinal, he'll be taken off this list forever. But if he leaves, he'll be up there (but not all the way up there) with Baby Bron Bron. 

    I doubt Pujols would set up an hour-long, drawn-out television extravaganza to announce his decision, though.

30. Jimmy Rollins

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    In 2006, the New York Mets finished the season at 97-65—the best record in the National League and 12 games ahead of the Philadelphia Phillies.

    Before the start of the 2007 season, Jimmy Rollins proclaimed his team the team to beat.

    Rollins backed up his prophecy by not only leading his team to the NL East crown but also edging out Colorado's Matt Holliday to win the MVP Award.

    Rollins hit .296 with 30 home runs, 41 SB and 94 RBI. He led the league in runs (136) and triples (20).

29. Milton Bradley

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    Even after tearing his ACL in 2007 going after an umpire, Milton Bradley still hasn't learned.

    It seemed like Bradley had things turned around in 2008 with the Texas Rangers. After a solid first half, he made the All-Star team. He finished the year with a .321 average, 22 home runs and 77 RBI.

    Even that season his temper got the best of him when he wanted to confront the Royals announcer Ryan Lefebvre. He felt that Lefebvre made some unnecessary comments about him.

    Due to his successful 2008 campaign, the Cubs took a chance on Bradley, signing him to a three-year deal. That didn't work, and they traded him to Seattle after the season.

    The Mariners designated Bradley for assignment on May 9, 2011.

28. Gary Matthews

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    It's "Cadillac Time."

    The phrase is meant as a home run trot to show up the opposing pitcher.

    It's something Gary Matthews did during his playing days. He now uses it as his primary catch slogan as a Phillies broadcaster.

    The 1983 NLCS MVP rode the Cadillac three times and went 6-for-14 in the series.

27. Jeffrey Leonard

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    Jeffrey Leonard's one-arm flap home run trot is a stroke of genius.

    And he wasn't a bad player either.

    The two-time All Star is the last person to win a LCS or World Series MVP Award on a losing team. In the seven-game NLCS between San Francisco and St. Louis, Leonard hit .417 with four home runs, five RBI and five runs scored.

26. Mel Hall

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    Mel Hall was nothing more than a journeyman outfielder.

    In 1991, Bernie Williams (then a rookie with New York), was on the receiving end of a plethora of brash remarks from Hall. He always called him "zero." Whenever Williams had something to say, Hall said, "Shut up, zero."

    As it turned out, Williams became one of the most beloved Yankees in history.

    In 2007, Hall became a zero when he was charged with two counts of sexual assault. He was sentenced to 45 years in prison.

25. Albert Belle

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    Albert Belle was arguably the least-liked player in all of baseball.

    Although he broke thermostats, threw buffet plates into the shower, tossed a beer bottle through a TV and even launched a ball at a fan, the Cleveland Indians put up with Belle's antics because he put up huge offensive numbers.

    He won four consecutive Silver Slugger Awards from 1993-1996 and hit a career high 50 home runs in 1995.

    The Indians reached the World Series in 1995 (with Belle) and 1997 (without Belle). They lost on both occasions.

24. Roberto Clemente

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    Roberto Clemente had a quiet and positive ego.

    Not only is he the greatest defensive right fielder of all time, but he also had the strongest outfield arm in the history of the game. He won 12 consecutive Gold Gloves from 1961-1972.

    He won the NL MVP in 1966 and won four batting titles. He finished his career with 3,000 hits.

    Clemente's duty was to be a role model. He sent out approximately 20,000 autographed photographs a year to children. He always gave back to his native land of Puerto Rico.

    Clemente tragically passed away on December 31, 1972, when his plane crashed about a mile off the Puerto Rican coast. He planned on delivering supplies to Nicaragua, which had just suffered a huge earthquake.

23. Dave Parker

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    At 6'5" and 220 pounds, Dave Parker once said, "There's only one thing bigger than me, and that's my ego."

    The Cobra was one of the most intimidating hitters of the 1970s and won a NL MVP in 1978 with a .334 average, 30 home runs and 117 RBI.

    He and Willie Stargell led the "We are Family" Pirates to a World Series title in 1979.

    Not only could Parker hit, but he also had arguably the strongest outfield arm in baseball at the time. He's also the first player to earn $1 million a season by signing a five-year, $5 million contract in 1979.

    After the deal, injuries and cocaine use led to a downward spiral in his career.

22. Al Hrabosky

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    If you've ever seen the show Eastbound & Down on HBO, I swear the show was predicated on the "Mad Hungarian" Al Hrabosky.

    He had the long hair, the Fu Manchu mustache and just pounded the strike zone with fastball after fastball.

    Hrabosky had a unique routine before every pitch he threw. He'd turn his back to the batter, waltz towards second base, briskly rub the ball between his palms numerous times, take a huge, deep breath and ferociously pound the ball into his glove. He'd then storm back to the mound, stare down the batter and fire.

21. Don Drysdale

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    Don Drysdale was a genuinely nice guy off the mound. But on the mound, Drysdale once said he'd throw at his grandmother if he needed to.

    Drysdale understood that you had to keep the ball away from the sweet part of the bat. To do that, you had to move the hitter away from the plate and brush them back with a fastball. This part of the game has been taken away today. 

    His 154 hit batsmen is still a National League record.

    He and Sandy Koufax formed one of the best one-two pitching tandems in the history of baseball.

20. Darryl Strawberry

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    In 1988, Darryl Strawberry finished second in NL MVP voting, behind Kirk Gibson.

    That season, Strawberry hit .269 with a NL-leading 39 home runs, 101 RBI, 101 runs scored and 29 SB. Heading into spring training of 1989, Strawberry wanted a contract extension.

    The Mets didn't oblige. While Strawberry shined on the field, he didn't off the field. He got into an altercation with Keith Hernandez on a picture day, got into a war of words with infielder Wally Backman and criticized manager Davey Johnson for taking him out in Game 6 of the 1986 World Series.

    He overslept and missed team meetings.

    He vowed he'd have a dynamite year in 1989. His season was far from dynamite...just a .225 average, although he hit 29 home runs.

    Strawberry finally got paid by the Los Angeles Dodgers when they awarded him with a five-year, $22.25 million contract in 1991.

19. Jim Bunning

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    Mickey Mantle always seemed to have something ailing in his body.

    During one particular game against the Detroit Tigers, Jim Bunning was on the hill. Mantle had bad knees at the time. Sure enough, Bunning threw at Mantle's knees, and he dashed towards Bunning.

    It was the only time Mantle ever charged the mound.

    Bunning always had a calculated approach every time he took the mound.

18. Gary Sheffield

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    In 2002, Gary Sheffield confessed to unknowingly using the "cream" and the "clear."

    He arguably has the quickest hands in the game, but his ego was a clubhouse cancer. There's a reason why he played for eight teams.

    To show you how diluted the 500 Home Run club has become, Sheffield finished his career with 509 home runs.

17. Bob Gibson

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    Off the mound, Bob Gibson was as genuine as they come. On the mound, he was one of the most feared and cocky hurlers of all time.

    His vintage stare intimidated hitters. He buckled sluggers with his curveball and overpowered them with his fastball. If you stood too close to the plate, he'd brush you back with some chin-high cheese.

    His 1.12 ERA in 1968 remains the lowest from a starting pitcher in the game's history.

    He's arguably the best postseason pitcher of all time.

16. Roger Clemens

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    Roger Clemens continues to deny his steroid and HGH use.

    There's no denying that Clemens was one of the most intimidating pitchers in the game's history. He overwhelmed hitters with his fastball and then struck them out with his splitter.

    Back to signs of steroid use. If flipping a splintered bat towards Mike Piazza in the 2000 World Series isn't an example of 'roid rage, I don't know what is.

15. Curt Schilling

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    Curt Schilling was as good of a postseason pitcher as Bob Gibson and Sandy Koufax.

    He did, however, have a loud and brash mouth. He spoke out on almost every controversial issue, whether it was political or baseball related. He called out the people who thought the "Bloody Sock" was a hoax. He just never seemed to know when to stop.

    During the 1993 World Series, he famously put a towel over his head every time Mitch Williams entered the game.

14. Rogers Hornsby

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    Besides Ty Cobb, Rogers Hornsby is considered the most disliked baseball player of all time.

    He was aloof, a loner and told it like it was. It upset his teammates. Hornsby also suffered through a lot of defensive lapses.

    No one can argue his reputation as a hitter. He's arguably the greatest second baseman ever. Hornsby had a career .358 batting average with 301 home runs and 1,584 RBI. 

    During Roger Maris' chase for Babe Ruth's all-time home run record in 1961, Hornsby stated it would be a disgrace for a lifetime .270 hitter to hold the record.

    A year later, when Hornsby asked to take a picture with Maris, he refused.

13. Dick Allen

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    Dick Allen was one of the most controversial players ever and the first African-American superstar on the Philadelphia Phillies.

    He was a superstar, but he drank before games, arrived late to games and had too many unexcused absences.

    There was the infamous Frank Thomas incident in 1965 where Thomas actually swung a bat at him.

    He missed a doubleheader in 1969 to go see a horse race.

    Ultimately, he was involved in a deal that sent him, Cookie Rojas and Jerry Johnson to St. Louis for Tim McCarver, Byron Brown, Joe Hoerner and Curt Flood. It was a trade that made Flood famous.

    Allen landed in a White Sox uniform in 1972 and won the AL MVP Award, hitting .308 with 37 home runs and 117 RBI.

    Coincidentally, Allen resigned with the Phillies in 1974 after "retiring" in 1973 as a member of the White Sox.

    Allen has the numbers that could have made a case for the Hall of Fame, but his reputation as a clubhouse cancer cost him dearly.

12. Mark McGwire and 11. Sammy Sosa

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    Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa captivated the entire country in 1998 when they both went after Roger Maris' all-time single season home run record of 61.

    McGwire ended up hitting 70, while Sosa hit 66.

    In the Home Run Derbies that followed, McGwire wowed in 1999 at Fenway Park. Sosa dazzled in 2000 at Turner Field and in 2002 at Miller Park.

    As it turns out, unfortunately, they were both frauds.

    Will the Hall of Fame voters eventually give in and let both get in? It doesn't look promising for either.

10. Alex Rodriguez

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    Alex Rodriguez stole the headlines of the 2007 World Series by announcing his intention to opt-out of his contract. I guess a $250 million contract wasn't enough.

    In the end, he came back to New York anyway.

    The steroid allegation destroyed his legacy. A-Rod was always the one guy who people thought was clean. His apology didn't seem genuine, just like all of the other times he's downplayed criticism towards him by the media and fans.

9. Jose Canseco

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    Jose Canseco just couldn't stay out of the spotlight.

    He threw a plethora of players under the bus in his steroids tell-all book Juiced, most notably his "Bash Brother" Mark McGwire. 

    Canseco tried to get back in the limelight by getting knocked out by a 7'2" Korean in a MMA fight in 77 seconds and by former Eagles player Vai Sikahema in a boxing match in Atlantic City. He also fought Philadelphia radio personality Danny Bonaduce to a three-round draw.

    In 2005, Canseco was on VH1's Surreal Life.

8. Ted Williams

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    By the time his career had winded down, Ted Williams wanted to be known as "The Greatest Hitter Who Ever Lived."

    He had a positive ego.

    All baseball historians should know the story of how he hit .406, but I'm going to tell it anyway.

    On the last day of the season, Sep. 28 of 1941, the Boston Red Sox had a doubleheader against the Philadelphia Athletics at Shibe Park.

    Williams' average stood at .39955.

    If he sat the doubleheader, his average would have rounded up to .400, but he stated he didn't deserve the accolade if he sat the final two games.

    Instead, Williams went 6-for-8 during the doubleheader to lift his average to .406.

7. Manny Ramirez

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    One particular series personified many of Manny Ramirez's me-first attitude instances.

    Let me take you back to the 2007 ALCS between the Boston Red Sox and Cleveland Indians.

    In Game 4 of the 2007 ALCS, the Red Sox entered the sixth inning down 7-0. After Kevin Youkilis and David Ortiz went yard, Ramirez hit one out to right center field for the home run trifecta.

    The score made it just 7-3, but Ramirez stood and stared at his shot as if he was Joe Carter hitting a game-winning home run to win a World Series.

    In Game 5, the Indians held a 1-0 lead heading into the top of the third. Ortiz worked a two-out walk.

    Ramirez stepped up and lined a scorcher to right field off the very top of the wall. Ramirez waltzed out and thought he hit it out. Ortiz, who hustled, scored from first. Ramirez stood at first with one of the longest singles in MLB history.

    I won't even get into getting caught with steroids twice.

    Ramirez has one of the best batting eyes in the game's history, but his legacy has forever been tarnished with his steroid suspensions. It was just Manny being Manny.

6. Babe Ruth

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    Babe Ruth is arguably the best player and the most beloved baseball player of all time.

    In Game 3 of the 1932 World Series against the Chicago Cubs, legend has it he called his shot while facing Charlie Root, by pointing to the center field bleachers. Sure enough, that's where the Sultan of Swat deposited the baseball...approximately 490 feet to dead center field.

    The Babe was the first true home-run phenomenon and the first true ballplayer to develop a home-run trot. When he hit one of his majestic 714 home runs, he'd watch where every single one of them landed. And then ran like a sloth around the bases.

    During some trots, he'd yell at his opponents, "How do you like them apples?"

    He may have had an ego on the field, but off the field he gave back to the community. He loved kids.

5. Pete Rose

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    In 2004, Pete Rose came out with a tell-all book, My Prison Without Bars, where he confessed to betting on baseball.

    Coincidentally or not, the book came out in January 2004, the exact same week it was announced that Paul Molitor and Dennis Eckersley would be inducted into the Hall of Fame.

    Was this an act of egotism on Rose's part or just completely coincidental? That's for you guys to decide.

4. Barry Bonds

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    In 2005 poll taken by Sports Illustrated, 450 players were asked which player had the biggest ego.

    Barry Bonds won by a landslide, taking 52 percent of the vote. Alex Rodriguez, whose name is also on this list, finished second with 17 percent of the vote.

    It's obvious that he juiced. Even his earrings were on 'roids.

3. Ty Cobb

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    Ty Cobb had an unquenchable thirst to win. Baseball was his life.

    Although the "Georgia Peach" holds several records, including career batting average (.367) and batting titles (11), his accomplishments are overshadowed by his aggressive playing style.

    He ran recklessly and always slid with his spikes high.

    "The base paths belonged to me, the runner. The rules gave me the right. I always went into a bag full speed, feet first. I had sharp spikes on my shoes. If the baseman stood where he had no business to be and got hurt, that was his fault," Cobb said.

2. Rickey Henderson

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    Rickey Henderson usually referred to himself in the third person, but on rare occasions he used the first person. 

    When he surpassed Lou Brock's career stolen bases record he said, "Lou Brock was the symbol of great base stealing, but today, I'm the greatest of all time, thank you."

    During a contract dispute with Oakland management, Henderson said, “If they want to pay me like Mike Gallego, I’ll play LIKE Mike Gallego.” Gallego responded by jokingly saying he was surprised Henderson knew who he was.

    Henderson's ritual before every game included standing naked in front of a mirror and stating several times that Rickey's the best.

    Despite all of the shenanigans, Henderson undoubtedly loved the game. He stuck around as a MLB player for 25 years and played for nine different teams.

    When Henderson broke Brock's stolen base record on May 1, 1991, he stood at 938 steals. He finished his career with 1,406 steals.

1. Reggie Jackson

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    Reggie Jackson's quotes speak for themselves, so I'll let Mr. October do the talking, with a few of his best quotes.

    His thoughts of hitting a home run.."God do I love to hit that little round son-of-a-bitch out of the park and make 'em say 'Wow!'"

    As an A's outfielder in 1973, Jackson stated, "If I was playing in New York, they'd name a candy bar after me."

    "I didn't come to New York to be a star, I brought my star with me," he said after signing as a free agent with the Yankees.

    "The only reason I don't like playing in the World Series is I can't watch myself play."

    "It all flows from me, I'm the straw that stirs the drink," which alienated Yankee catcher Thurman Munson and the rest of the Yankee teammates. The Bronx burned, but they still found a way to win the 1977 World Series.

    Jackson led the charge by famously hitting three home runs in the clinching Game 6 of the World Series against the Los Angeles Dodgers.