The Least Popular Player from Every MLB Franchise's History
Everyone knows of the popular players on every team, even the bad ones. We know of Andrew McCutchen, Brett Myers and Ichiro, despite how bad their teams may be.
One thing is certain: no matter what team you're on, you have to produce. If you don't, or if you have the wrong attitude, fans and teammates will turn on you. In some cases, one's playing ability does not even matter, and could in fact be a problem.
Every team has had at least one player who either had not lived up to his contract, turned into a bad person, or just never gelled with the fanbase, and here is one from each team throughout MLB history.
I limited the lack of popularity to within the confines of the team and the fans and, while it's a historical piece, many of the players are recent, as there are simply more fan reactions out there for those players.
Baltimore Orioles: Sidney Ponson
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Sidney Ponson had a career year for the Orioles in 2003, going 14-6 at the time of the trade deadline. As a result, the Orioles shipped him off to the San Francisco Giants.
Re-signing him in 2004, however, was a mistake. His ERA never again went under five, and he had two drunk-driving incidents to go with an assault issue. The issues with him were bad enough that the Orioles morally voided his contract.
Add in his lack of stamina and one can see why the Orioles and their fans were glad to finally see him gone.
Boston Red Sox: Wil Cordero
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There are a lot of players who jumped ship to the New York Yankees who I could put here, but that would be too easy. Instead, I'll go with a guy who was mediocre on the field and worse off it, in Wil Cordero.
After four years on the Montreal Expos, Cordero moved to the Red Sox, and in 1996 and 1997 put up okay numbers. What landed him in the fans' and team's doghouses were the domestic assault issues that came to light during this time.
Needless to say, when he returned to the lineup a few days after that, he was showered with boos, and was released at season's end.
New York Yankees: Carl Pavano
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The answer to this would be easy if one asked a Red Sox fan, or a fan of any other team. However, it's not much more difficult to see who Yankees fans hate given what they expect from big contracts.
Carl Pavano was a great pitcher for the Florida Marlins, and an 18-8 record in 2004 led to a big contract from the Yankees. The end result was 26 starts in four years, missing one completely, and not being close to the pitcher he was expected to be.
The worst part in Yankees fans' minds was the fact that he's pitching just fine now for Minnesota without any problems.
Tampa Bay Rays: Manny Ramirez
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The Rays have a short history, so there are not too many players I can note here. To take the recent route, however, the Rays are in a battle with the Red Sox for the AL Wild Card. They would potentially be closer if Ramirez cared about playing and didn't get busted for a drug policy violation.
The fact that he seemed to check out already career-wise didn't help. Besides, if he did stick around, the Rays would now have the domestic violence issue to deal with.
Toronto Blue Jays: Shea Hillenbrand
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The Toronto Blue Jays only had Shea Hillenbrand for two years, but it definitely felt like an eternity, both to them and the fans.
He had a very good year in 2005 for the Jays, making the All-Star team. In 2006, however, everything went bad. He wrote on the clubhouse board that the ship was sinking, complained about sharing playing time, and was annoyed over the fact that he did not play after returning from adopting a baby girl.
After the Jays got rid of him, other teams had pretty much the same issues, and he was out of the league the following year.
Chicago White Sox: Chick Gandil
The brainchild of the Black Sox Scandal would have to be the least popular member of the White Sox in history, especially for those who are Shoeless Joe fans. The fact that he looked like someone who would pull off such a scandal adds to the lack of popularity.
Cleveland Indians: Albert Belle
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Unlike many of the others on this list, Albert Belle was actually at his career best during his many years with the Cleveland Indians. That didn't stop people from not liking him, though.
Belle was a perennial All-Star during his eight seasons in Cleveland, but had a combative personality and alienated the media, which did not help his image. Factor in the corked bat issue of 1994 and it's no wonder why he was unpopular.
Detroit Tigers: Ty Cobb
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Ty Cobb was one of the greatest baseball players to ever play the game, there's no doubt about that. Despite his playing ability, he was hated by pretty much everybody—even Connie Mack noted him as a dirty player.
If you know anything about the Ty Cobb story, you know why he ends up here. Yes, he's highly regarded now, but back then he was not a guy you wanted to get near.
Kansas City Royals: Neifi Perez
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I actually had to look up quite a bit about Neifi Perez, since the name wasn't all that familiar. Twelve seasons culminating in a 0.1 WAR is pretty much the definition of forgettable, after all. However, Perez's year-and-a-half was marred by many issues.
For starters, they traded fan favorite Jermaine Dye to get this guy, so Perez was in the doghouse from the start. He was also found to be two years older than the Royals thought, making the trade look worse.
Add in a terrible 2002 season (-1.9 WAR) and questions of his attitude, and one can see where his unpopularity comes from.
Minnesota Twins: Chuck Knoblauch
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This was a tough one, since there are few players who could really be considered unpopular from Minnesota. A.J. Pierzynski would be many people's choice here, but he didn't become a pain until he left Minnesota, and the Twins got great players in return for him.
Chuck Knoblauch, conversely, was very popular in Minnesota throughout his eight seasons with the team. He then demanded a trade at the end of 1997, pretty much asking why anyone would want to play there when they could play for a contender.
The end result? Massive boos anytime he returned to the Metrodome, including having stuff thrown at him in one instance. Twins fans were quite happy when he completely fell apart after leaving Minnesota.
Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim: Jose Guillen
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If there's one thing I've learned in my time writing about baseball, it's that Angels fans hate Jose Guillen with a passion.
He spent only the 2004 season with Anaheim, and actually had one of his most productive years there, hitting nearly .300 and passing the 100 RBI mark. However, late in the season, Mike Scioscia benched him for a pinch runner in a game.
Guillen got so worked up over that, that he was suspended the rest of the season. In a game the following year as a member of the Nationals, he continued to cause controversy and again blasted Scioscia.
Oakland Athletics: Todd Van Poppel
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A good way to be unpopular to fans of a team is to be a highly-touted prospect, yet fail to achieve anything in the majors. Such is the case with Todd Van Poppel.
Van Poppel was selected 14th overall in the 1990 MLB Draft and was brought up the following year as one of the few prospects to have Strasburg-level hype. In five seasons with Oakland, he went 18-29 with a 5.75 ERA, bouncing around the league for a decade afterwards.
As consistently good as Oakland pitching has been in their farm system, the fact that it failed so badly here was doubly surprising.
Seattle Mariners: Milton Bradley
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Milton Bradley is the type of guy I could use for each team he played for and probably get away with it. Nonetheless, in his past two seasons with Seattle, he seems to be at his worst.
He was brought in to help the lineup bounce back, since he performed well in Texas, but was terrible on the field in 101 total games. Combine that with a charge for making criminal threats to his wife during the past offseason, and one can see why he never caught on anywhere, let alone in Seattle.
Texas Rangers: Mark Teixiera
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This was a tough one, since the Texas Rangers don't really have a cast of unpopular players to tap into. My choice may be controversial as a result, but hear me out.
Teixeira was very popular in his four-and-a-half-season career with the Rangers, then he turned down a massive eight-year contract extension, and was traded in 2007 as a result. He then went on to sign pretty much the same deal with the Yankees (a bit more money, of course).
I'm not positive how unpopular Teixeira might be in Texas nowadays as a result, but they have full permission to boo him when he comes around. Imagine how tough their lineup would be with him instead of Mitch Moreland.
Atlanta Braves: John Rocker
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I'm not sure Rocker was all that popular to begin with as the Braves closer, though he did pitch well his first three seasons. However, his infamous comments about New York in 2000 drew the ire of everybody who watched the game.
A year later, he stopped pitching well too, so the Braves were glad to get rid of him while they had the chance. Perhaps more surprising was the fact that anyone else picked him up.
Florida Marlins: Hanley Ramirez
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Hanley Ramirez really isn't all that unpopular, but there are very few options for me to choose from here. Ramirez does have star potential, but the problems erupt when he seems to slow down.
There are a lot of detractors due to his lack of effort and his season-long slump in 2011, and while it doesn't seem entirely deserved, Marlins fans naturally expect much more out of their star player.
New York Mets: Vince Coleman
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Unlike some other teams on the list, there's a mountain of options that I could use for the Mets. However, two easily stand out above all the others. One was Bobby Bonilla, a player who falls right into the category of: star on one team, gets big deal, terrible after that.
The other is Vince Coleman, who gets an automatic addition into these types of lists with how he acted on the field and off. Once his production dropped off, he turned to injuring Dwight Gooden with a golf club and throwing a firecracker into the crowd.
At least Bonilla didn't do anything like that, even if he is still on the Mets payroll.
Philadelphia Phillies: Lance Parrish
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Lance Parrish wasn't hated necessarily, but he did end up being someone who drew the ire of Phillies fans during his time due to a lack of production.
He had a great decade with the Detroit Tigers, then was signed by the Phillies to help move them towards a pennant. Instead, he atrophied and had mediocre stats in two seasons with Philadelphia, with the Phillies tumbling down the standings in the process.
Washington Nationals: Nyjer Morgan
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There are few players who fit into unpopular for the Nats, or even the Expos, but one player clearly comes to mind who the Nationals are glad to be rid of, and that's Nyjer Morgan.
In a season-and-a-half with Washington, Morgan overplayed his limited skills, racking up caught-stealing numbers, and he certainly did not warm up to the fanbase at all.
Chicago Cubs: Carlos Zambrano
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Every few years, it seems that another Cubs player underachieves or cops a poor attitude, and as a result, the least popular player on the Cubs is essentially a revolving door of many people.
Due to this, I'm merely noting the latest player in this long line, Carlos Zambrano. For those who disagree with this approach, fret not, as I'm sure this will change next year. Besides, I already used Milton Bradley earlier.
Cincinnati Reds: Reggie Sanders
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Putting Reggie Sanders here is not easy, but if any Reds fans are unsure of why I have him on here, I only need say one thing: 1995 playoffs.
Sanders had eight solid seasons with Cincinnati, and 1995 was his career year, hitting .306, stealing 36 bases and hitting nearly 100 RBI. In the playoffs against the Dodgers and Braves, however, he struck out 19-of-29 times and likely contributed to their loss.
His performance never recovered from that, and Reds fans lost respect for him after such a bad run.
Houston Astros: J.R. Richard
By far, Richard's place on here is most undeserved. He was a great pitcher for the Astros for a decade, and many remember him fondly in hindsight, as he was one of the premier pitchers in the league.
That being said, when he first had arm problems, the media and fans waved it off as complaining or jealousy due to Nolan Ryan's new contract. The problems led up to a stroke and a sudden end to his playing career.
Had the man been more popular or more respected, the fallout may have been very different. It's a tragic story that's not remembered quite enough.
Milwaukee Brewers: Bill Hall
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The Brewers are yet another team that does not really have a slew of hated or unpopular players, so I ended up choosing one who developed a reputation in Milwaukee.
Bill Hall, for the most part, just couldn't hit. He had two good years out of nowhere in 2005 and 2006, and was rewarded with a nice deal. After that, Hall went back to not hitting, and Milwaukee eventually got rid of him.
He later went on to not hit for Boston, and he last didn't hit in San Francisco.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Kris Benson
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In reality, I could put just about any Pirate not named Barry Bonds in the past 30 years here, and it could apply. However, I'm choosing Kris Benson for two reasons.
First, he was a first overall draft pick, and in four seasons with Pittsburgh he didn't accomplish much of anything. Second, he was overshadowed by his wife. That shows either a huge lack of popularity for Kris, a lot of popularity for Anna, or both.
St. Louis Cardinals: Rogers Hornsby
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Hornsby falls under the exact same category as Ty Cobb—he was an amazing ballplayer, and is highly regarded now. However, back in the day, while fans may have been fine with him, fellow players and managers hated him due to his attitude.
When he became manager, he was 10 times worse, as everything had to be done his way, and he broke many unwritten rules of being a manager in the leagues, hurting his team in the process.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Chad Qualls
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I'm not really sure who to put here, given how short the Diamondbacks history is, but given how awful his 2010 season was, Qualls had to have been a very unpopular person in Arizona last year.
Colorado Rockies: Mike Hampton
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The Rockies decided to acquire Mike Hampton from the Mets in 2001, forgetting both that he had perhaps the worst contract in MLB history as baggage, and he would be coming into the worst park for pitchers, especially one that had to rebound.
Needless to say, his two years in Colorado stunk, and fans were fine getting rid of him. A 6.15 ERA at the peak of the steroid era in Coors Field makes it sound not so bad, but we all know it was.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Jose Offerman
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There are a lot of options for the Dodgers on this list, as you have a myriad of players who didn't live up to contracts as well as ballplayers who were tough to get along with. For my option, I chose someone who provides a bit of both.
Jose Offerman was a young gun in his six years with the Dodgers who put up some good speed numbers, but ended up absolutely terrible defensively, which resulted in any fanbase cooling off pretty quick.
He eventually bounced around from team to team after plenty of controversy, and he continues to make headlines for assault on the field, years after playing his last game in the major leagues, making his lack of popularity seemingly justified.
San Diego Padres: Kevin Brown
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I was pretty surprised originally to see that Kevin Brown is hated quite a bit by Padres fans. Once I dug deeper though, it made some sense why.
Brown joined the Padres in a trade for a year in 1998 after winning the World Series with the Marlins the year prior. He attacked Padres fans for cheering Sammy Sosa during his home-run chase, but they were in a pennant race so that could slide.
However, after the season ended, he talked about wanting to be near his family on the east coast, then signed a big contract with the rival Los Angeles Dodgers. The Padres may be used to talent leaving for money, but that one hurt due to that addition.
San Francisco Giants: A.J. Pierzynski
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Pierzynski has to make the list somewhere, and where better than the team who, for whatever reason, traded to acquire him?
No matter where he goes in the majors, he seems to rub people the wrong way. He also reportedly kneed a Giants trainer in the groin during spring training, but it wasn't found out until a year later, and by then A.J. was out of S.F. anyway.
Oh, and his year with the Giants was one of his weaker career years, making the trade look very bad in hindsight.