Question for the Ages: Who’s Your Least Favorite Player? (Part 2)

There is a legitimate, non-baseball reason for people to dislike Matt Garza. (via Thomson)

There is a legitimate, non-baseball reason for people to dislike Matt Garza. (via Thomson)

Baseball seasons are potent deceptions. At ground level they comprise a series of battles that contrive to yield a championship team, and insofar as one team hoists the hardware at season’s end, the deception itself is a win. Those guys wear the goggles, their eyeballs freed of the pain that comes with champagne, while 29 fan bases cry, “Oof! Why can’t that be us?”

In this transparent air we share, however, the seasons are something else: They are galleries of individual portraits, each mined for impressions by which we appraise the player. On the long view, we won’t recall the team—“Yeah, weren’t they the ones who said nobody gave them a chance?”—that got hot in October and then went nuts with sparkling wine, but we’ll all remember the players—Gehrig and Cobb, Beltre and Braun—we love to love or hate.

In efforts to explore the matter further and to settle on something close to insight, I put the question to nine baseball writers—five in Part 1, four in Part 2—and also to myself: In short, who is your least favorite (or most hated) baseball player, historically and/or currently, and why? As a reader might expect, the answer still—and always—depends on the person.

Christopher Fittz: “Okay, these thoughts are coming in raw: My first-ever least favorite player was Ron Karkovice of the Chicago White Sox, mostly because the Chicago White Sox were the first team I hated for besting the Rangers in the first true pennant race I got to witness as a Rangers fan in 1993. Officer Karko specifically garnered my ire because he was featured heavily in the ‘Good Guys Wear Black’ campaign on WGN that I was forced to see ad nauseam when I was just trying to be a hip kid and follow the Michael Jordan Chicago Bulls. The idea that Hawk Harrelson could parrot the idea that these villains were the good guys enough that they made an entire ad campaign about it made me sick.

“So, that surely informed my irrational and petty view for all least-favorites to follow. Of course, I hated all the Angels who were super-good against the Rangers. It seems like all the best Rangers-killers over the years have come from Anaheim. I swear, without looking it up, Tim Salmon, Garret AndersonVladimir Guerrero and Erick Aybar all have career batting averages of 1.000 against the Rangers. But even so, I never hated any of them at the time as much as I hated Bret Boone.

“Bret Boone was just intolerable. The frosted tips. The nebbish, gnomish face. The ‘fiery’ attitude. The being-merely-OK-to-holy-crap-he’s-the-best-player-ever sudden transformation. How did a right-handed hitter who averaged like 12 dingers suddenly hit nearly 40 the first year of playing half his games at Safeco?! That was and remains utter nonsense. None of that was even the greatest Boone sin. No, nothing compared to Bret Boone’s bat flip on the rage-o-meter. Of all the players I have hated, the passion of hate that I had for Bret Boone in the moment that he hit a home run was greater than that of any other. You’re Bret Boone. Stop it. Components of Bret Boone-ism are what led me to hate Torii Hunter and Josh Donaldson.

“Hunter because there’s not a routine fly that that man can’t bat-flip on. He doesn’t even have to hit a home run to fling that wood like he’s just won the World Series. Seriously, every time Torii Hunter succeeds in making a baseball leave his bat he takes a moment to offer up his own personal celebration. Josh Donaldson because he went from priggish nobody yelling at Yu Darvish for not throwing him enough fastballs to MVP-quality player with a stupid haircut. From the ashes of Bret Boone, Josh Donaldson emerged.

“But the player I hate the most, and I suspect I will always hate more than any other player for the rest of my life, is Lance Berkman. Jay ‘Comedy Vacuum’ Leno lookalike Lance Berkman did not sign with the Rangers prior to the 2011 season. Fine, that was his right. But to go on the radio and talk about why he chose the Cardinals over the Rangers and to say it was because the Rangers were an average team who rode Cliff Lee’s coattails to the World Series isn’t forgivable. Especially not when in the same interview he dissed Adrian Beltre by saying his contract with the Rangers was a reach.

“Of course, all that led to the Cardinals eking into the playoffs to face the ‘average’ Rangers in the World Series. We know what happened from there. It’s made all the worse by Berkman hitting the game-tying blooper in the 10th inning of Game 6 to all but render Josh Hamilton’s storybook-capping go-ahead two-run shot in the top of the inning a moot point. He put his money where his money was. Kudos to him. Let it be done and buried so that we may never hear from Lance Berkman ever again. Wait, what’s that? Jon Daniels has signed him and his old-man knees out of retirement for 13 million dollars? Good grief. Now the biggest putz in baseball is on the team I root for? How do I rectify that?

“Of course, Lance Berkman was terrible on the Rangers in 2013. He was hurt like everyone expected him to be. But even when he wasn’t, he was clearly half-assing it. I suspect he couldn’t believe that the Rangers were giving him money and it was probably hilarious to him when the checks came in. He basically just sat in the dugout all season looking like he’d rather be fishing. Apparently, in the locker room, he would taunt the Rangers and Beltre about the 2011 World Series all the time. He’d also go and talk about how he had to beat the Rangers so that they wouldn’t win a World Series before his beloved Houston Astros. What an ass. There will likely never be a player who comprises so many hateable components as Berkman. If ever there’s a single player with a frosted faux-hawk who comes from nowhere to become a good player and routinely beats the Rangers while hitting bat-flipped walk-off dongs in the World Series and takes out national TV ads to make fun of the Rangers, I will still probably like him more than Lance Berkman.

“So, there you go. I apparently have a lot of hate.”

Oh yeeeaaahhh, I know those feelings. I know them down deep, in that place where the unchecked expression of raw emotion is a purification ritual, a way to rid the body of the psychic toxins that eat at the soul. In fact, at NotGraphs, I created a narrator/character whose existence owed itself entirely to his ability to vent uncensored feelings, to give voice to what’s normally left unsaid, and only the death of that site prevented him from making countless more appearances. Trust me on this: I.M. Bitterman would never have run out of topics.

Now, in service to a voice that Fittz so beautifully conjures, and thus to leave no metastatic feeling behind, I hereby resurrect Mr. Bitterman: You want to talk about marketing campaigns? I’ll give you a marketing campaign. And that “Good Guys Wear Black” monstrosity has nothing on this one, at least when it comes to promoting a guy until such time that you want to stab yourself in the eyeballs with a pair of Taco Bell sporks.

A Hardball Times Update
Goodbye for now.

I give you the entire 2014 season as sappy agitprop for The Captain, Derek Jeter.

Good grief. Was it possible to turn on the TV without seeing a schmaltzy tribute that likens Jeter to history’s great humanitarians? He’s a shortstop, for crying out loud, and no longer a very good one, so why the Mahatma Gandhi treatment? I wasn’t aware he had fed the poor and healed the sick while turning a 4-6-3 double play. Seriously, could the talking heads have gone even one half inning without puff-piecing this guy? Could they have gone eight minutes without referencing the Jeter-shaped hole in their collective heart? I guess Mount Olympus has made room for No. 2.

Oh, and I can tell you who turned intolerability into an art form, and he was an Angel, too: Scott freakin’ Spiezio. Nice soul patch, bro. Make sure to dye it red so we can see it even better. Y’know, until you ran into that Felix Rodriguez meatball in Game 6 of the 2002 World Series, we sure hadn’t heard of that Grammy-level band of yours. Sandfrog, is it? So, thank you for that! I’ll be sure to attend your next concert when I’m ready for my brain to bleed. Why don’t you celebrate by assaulting a cabbie and gracing your biceps with a tattoo of your mistress? Oh, wait. You already did all that!

Speaking of frosted tips, how ’bout that Roger Clemens, huh? Hey, Rocket. You’d think that winning a bunch of Cy Young Awards would be enough to make you feel good about your appearance, but instead you went all NSYNC by pretending that only the top of your head goes surfing on sunny weekends. But hey, what do we know? Maybe those blonde tips were actually a result of your intensive workouts with your trainer and BFF Brian McNamee.

Bat flips, yeah, I guess those are annoying, especially from itty-bitty infielders who apparently used the Rocket’s “training regimen,” but what’s worse are the look-at-me-I-just-scored-the-winning-Super-Bowl-touchdown mound theatrics that make So You Think You Can Dance look like midnight mass. Spontaneous joy is one thing, but c’mon, Jose Valverde, what are you trying to do? Bring rain? You too, K-Rod. Act like you’ve been there—and by “there” I mean Mariano Rivera’s School of Being Awesome, if only for one semester.

I am I.M. Bitterman, sure, but even I’d rather see Valverde’s rain dance than Grant Balfour’s stupid fits of temper. Dude, it’s Tropicana Field, not the Roman Colosseum. And he’s Victor Martinez, not Spartacus. Tap the brakes, fella.

Of course, for pure partisan outrage, nothing beats the time when the Rangers brought John “Up With People” Rocker aboard and followed that by welcoming Milton “Puppies ’N Rainbows” Bradley, in 2002 and 2008, respectively. Good times. The only thing that might have made the decade more unbearable is if the Rangers had somehow traded for the ghost of Ty Cobb and the spirit of Cap Anson, in addition to more dreadful pitching.

If there’s ever a single player with a frosted soul patch who gets the Gandhi treatment and then stands on that pedestal to promote his terrible grunge band just before throwing his buddy/trainer under the tour bus and then performing an elaborate mound dance just prior to bad-mouthing roughly half the U.S. population and making criminal threats and committing four counts of spousal battery … well, I’m not gonna like that guy at all.

Scott Lindholm: Least favorite player—historical: “I started watching baseball in 1970, as Sunday Cubs games were broadcast in my hometown of Davenport, Iowa. I picked the wrong year to become a Cubs fan, as they were one year removed from their famous collapse of 1969 and cruelly teased their fans by starting strong in 1970 only to fade down the stretch. It would become a familiar refrain.

“I had an interest in baseball numbers even then, always trying to make meaningful comparisons. At that time the Cardinals had a left fielder who usually got around 200 hits and led the league in stolen bases. I wasn’t aware at the time that Lou Brock had been traded by the Cubs in a deal widely considered one of the worst in baseball history, but even then I sensed something was amiss and that his stats didn’t tell the complete story. I won’t dispute he was the right player in the right stadium at the right time – a fast guy on Astroturf in an era when base stealing reached its apex, but still…

“It wasn’t until I discovered the various flavors of Wins Above Replacement (WAR) that I discovered I had been right all the time about Brock. Whereas he might have been the right person for the 1970s Cards, he was the wrong person for a stat that doesn’t particularly care for corner outfielders with no power. Of the 98 players with at least 2,500 career hits, he ranks 86th in career FanGraphs WAR (fWAR), and his Weighted Runs Created Plus (wRC+) is 109—he was nine percent better than the typical hitter in baseball history. Plus he was a fast guy playing left field, and there’s a term for fast outfielders—center fielder. The fact he played left tells all that needs to be known about his defense.

“‘Nine percent better than the typical hitter and a bad defender’ is rarely found on Hall of Fame plaques, and the fact he was elected on the first ballot makes me sad. Luckily, improvements in understanding baseball numbers have made it easier to separate chaff from wheat, and a modern comparisons to Brock are players like Garret Anderson or Harold Baines, both good-to-very-good players but never mentioned among the best that ever played. Bill Mazeroski is my least-favorite choice in the Hall of Fame, but at least a deluded Veterans Committee made that one. Lou Brock will always be my least-favorite Hall of Famer who was selected by the voters, because even then they should have known better.

Least favorite player—contemporary: “The category was easy to pick but the player difficult to choose, because there are so many contenders. It’s tied to the recent trend for players to spout House of David-type beards that look ridiculous on any simian, let alone a human being. Candidates include David Ross and Adam LaRoche, among others. I cheated with this list of 2014’s best facial hair, and after much consideration, decided to go with…

“The hat is wrong, as this man signed with the Cubs recently, but he has everything I despise in facial hair—too much, gray hair, poorly groomed and completely pointless. Brian Wilson might be the all-time worst, but since his time has passed, the crown goes to Jason Motte. It gets windy sometimes in Wrigley Field, and Motte would be well-advised to shave lest he be caught up and deposited in Lake Michigan. Then again, the beard might be enough of a sail to carry him all the way to Michigan.”

Those feelings? I know them well. At a time when worthy Hall of Fame candidates are denied entry to the tune of 200 or even 300 votes apiece, several Hall of Famers stand out as utterly undeserving. This isn’t to say they weren’t good players, among the top 15 percent to ever play. It’s only to say that by legitimate statistical standards, freed of the favoritism that voters—especially those on the Veterans Committee—have demonstrated, they don’t measure up.

George “High Pockets” Kelly had a great nickname and an excellent career (1915-1932), but does he really belong in the Hall? Granted, he registered five old-school 100-plus RBI seasons, yet on the basis of either new-school metrics (109 OPS+, barely above average for a first baseman) or conventional-school counting stats (1,778 hits, 148 home runs), he probably belongs in the Hall of Pretty Darn Good. The same goes for guys like Freddie Lindstrom, who retired with an impressive .311/.351/.449 triple slash line but whom Bill James once ranked 43rd on the all-time list of third basemen, and Ross Youngs, an excellent hitter (.322 lifetime batting average) who nonetheless played for only 10 years, started for eight and retired with 1,491 hits, 42 home runs and 592 RBI.

What did those three men have in common?

You guessed it, probably: They all played in New York—for the Giants—and were, in fact, teammates for a time. (Alas, Big Apple bias is not a new phenomenon.) I can’t hate anyone for sneaking into the Hall, but who ranks as least favorite? Well, I’ll demonstrate some regional bias of my own by saying it sure ain’t Ross Youngs. The guy grew up in Shiner, Texas, home of the famous Shiner Bock beer, so I raise a glass to my homeboy.

I’ll go with shortstop Travis Jackson, yet another member of the same-era New York Giants (1922-1936) whom the Veterans Committee saw fit to induct, in 1982. True, Jackson put together a nice 15-year career, racking up a .291/.337/.433 lifetime line, but he was hardly a postseason hero, going .149./.186/.162 in 74 playoff plate appearances, and his OPS+ of 102 is lower than Alan Trammell’s 110. And Trammell, as many fans know, garnered less than 25 percent of the vote in 2015.

Four Hall of Famers in one lineup? (Actually, with Hack Wilson, Frankie Frisch and Bill Terry, it boasted seven!) Heck, the Giants should have swept the 1924 World Series, not lost it, to a Senators team featuring dudes named Bucky and Goose and Muddy and Curly and Mule and Nemo and Firpo, in the bottom of the 12th of Game 7. Perhaps that’s what happens when a legit Hall of Famer, Walter Johnson, hurls a scoreless final four innings.

Now, as to selecting a least favorite player purely on the basis of his beardedness, well … so many whiskers, so little time. First, I’ll say that when it comes to this sort of aesthetic appraisal, I’m always troubled by the tension between libertarian sensibilities—hey, live and let live—and my own conscious liberty to think, “Egad, man, that beard is hideous. An entire family of ringtail possums could live inside that thing!”

In any case, Least-Favorite Emeritus goes to the aforementioned Brian Wilson. Last we saw of B-Dub, the dude’s beard had a beard. Remember that thing? The sound you heard was George Steinbrenner rolling over in his Barbasol. Seriously, Brian. We all want every player to “be himself” and all that jazz, but do you have to try so hard to be yourself? Because if you’re trying so hard to be yourself, maybe it’s not really your self.

The current titleholder is harder to choose. Had he not done the world a favor by issuing an emancipation proclamation to his Honest Abe chin curtain, it would have been Rangers shortstop Elvis “Former 16th President” Andrus. Mike Napoli? Nah, the big boy wears it well, like a burly lumberjack on vacation from his flannel. Derek Norris? The late, lamented NotGraphs once deemed him the league’s first openly feral player, a fitting designation of a defiantly hirsute dude, but the catcher has since trimmed it. Dustin Ackley? Sure, it’s bad, way too Yukon Cornelius for a relatively small guy, but the choice has got to be Adam Lind, the major league leader in billy-goat beardedness.

Then again, if with a Bic disposable a dude can remove the root cause of contempt, perhaps it’s not contempt but something closer to stylistic discretion. And if we confuse stylistic discretion with actual loathing, we need to despise every Astro of the “orange rainbow” era and each White Sox player from August 8, 1976, the day when owner Bill Veeck imposed upon them the Shorts Seen ’Round the World. And how about those early-’90s mullets?

Eric Pleiss: “The best thing about having a least favorite baseball player (especially when your favorite team is in the tank) is that it gives you something to root for (or against, I suppose) when you have nothing left to root for. For me, one of the criteria in picking my least favorite baseball player is that the player has to be good, or at the very least, has to play very well (or play well in key moments) against your favorite team. For me, as a Twins fan, that man has been Paul Konerko for the better part of the past 16 years.

“During that 16-year stretch with the Sox, Konerko hit .281/.356/.491, good enough for a 120 OPS+, but he played even better against the Twins (who, despite winning a bunch of AL Central championships during that time, never really threw much out on the mound, with the exception of a few years of Johan Santana). Paul Konerko was a Chicago favorite, which helped me like him even less. But he was also pretty great at times. He is a six-time All-Star who twice finished within the top six of MVP balloting, this from a guy who played first base in a time of many great first basemen.

“Oh, jeez, this is turning into a Paul Konerko love piece (but maybe that’s what it is to have a least favorite player). I didn’t hate Paul Konerko, but I loved to try to hate him. He was a great player, and I wanted him to strike out every time he came up to bat (which he didn’t; he was a relatively low strikeout player for a guy with his power), or at least hit into a double play (which he did quite regularly, leading the league in 2003). When he was paired with Adam Dunn on the White Sox, I think I rooted against them both equally, Konerko because he’s the guy I dislike, and Dunn because three true outcomes are pretty ugly on the field, in practice. They teamed up to make the White Sox (that I already hated) my most hated team in the league.

“With Konerko’s retirement, I’ll have to find another least favorite player. Luckily for me, they replaced Konerko with another first baseman I can love to hate!”

Quite well, is how I know that feeling. Vladimir Guerrero used to absolutely destroy the Rangers. In his six seasons with the Angels, Vlad the Ranger Impaler slashed .395/.461/.661 against my guys, the kind of line typically associated with a highly touted junior at Baseball Factory Tech. So dominant was Guerrero that Rangers Spanish-language broadcaster Eleno Ornelas dubbed him “El Verdugo”—the Executioner. In his 50 games in Arlington, he hit .394 with 14 home runs, 18 doubles, 38 runs scored and 33 RBI. Need more proof that El Verdugo sharpened his blade on the bones of Rangers hurlers? He registered at least one hit in each of his first 44 games—from 2004 to 2006—against the Rangers.

That sort of team-specific supremacy can generate a strange cognitive dissonance in a baseball fan, particularly a fan of that specific team: a grudging awe on the one hand, an awful grudge on the other. Back then, seeing Guerrero step to the plate was like seeing a state trooper step on the gas, bright lights flashing in the rearview mirror. Your day was about to get worse. The lone solution to the Guerrero problem was to hire the guy away, which the Rangers did, in 2010. Question: How can you go from hating a guy to loving him? Answer: Let him change uniforms and promptly return the favor. Indeed, I’ll never forget Vlad’s second game against his former team, in Anaheim, when he registered four hits, including a solo homer and a grand slam, in the Rangers’ 6-4 defeat of the Angels.

Revenge—baseball revenge—is best served by Vlad Guerrero hot at the dish.

Now … what shall we do about that awful Kyle “The Ranger Assassin” Seager?

Craig Calcaterra: “As a kid, I hated players who routinely did well against the teams I liked, so George Brett was a problem for me and, later, Mike Schmidt. I don’t know for a fact that they routinely did well against the Tigers and Braves, respectively, but it sure felt like they did.

“Later I grew out of that (and came to really appreciate how awesome Brett and Schmidt were) and, today, I can’t really say I hate any player based on actual baseball stuff. Some annoy me a bit, but since I’ve been an adult I just can’t find it in myself to get so worked up over anything that happens on a baseball field and let it rise to anywhere close to hate.

“Off the field is another story. I try my hardest to separate art from artist, but any player who has been involved in a domestic violence or sexual assault situation—or really, any sort of crime or behavior in which there are victims as opposed to situations where they merely hurt themselves due to drugs or personal excess—is no one I want any part of and, yes, I actively root against them. I don’t know if that’s ‘hate’ as most people define it. I try to have empathy for people as best I can, but guys like Milton Bradley, Brett Myers and Josh Lueke are on my list. Of course we don’t hear about a lot of these players’ conduct until after their career, so it doesn’t often translate to the actual present enjoyment of baseball.

“I hope the group of hate-worthy players always remains small like that.”

This, too, is a feeling I’ve come to know. With age comes the wisdom—or at least the knowledge that the wisdom is available and that such wisdom is probably preferable to the atavistic instinct that inspires humans to launch batteries at other humans—to know that baseball players, in uniform, are really just exquisitely talented mercenaries. They are men like Vladimir Guerrero and, more recently, Hanley Ramirez and Nelson Cruz and Nick Markakis, dudes whose keen eyes and fast-twitch fibers allow them to launch spherical objects in entertaining trajectories while wearing the laundry of the team that provides their per diem. That’s it. Any heroic or villainous mantle they assume is strictly the work of fans as they stand in allegiant relation to the dyes and stitches on the laundry.

Out of uniform, though, those same players occupy a different story, the very narrative in which the rest of us grapple with flawed character and characters. As a child, I never knew if Hitter A and Pitcher B were good guys. Either the information wasn’t available or I didn’t see it. (Santa Claus is always dying, but he’s never quite dead.) In a way, they weren’t even human; they were action figures, distant and wholly mediated by the flat dimensions of TV and cardboard and sometimes by the 400 feet between the cheap seats and home plate. What did I know of their charity? What did I know of their malevolence? They were swinging a bat or throwing a ball or wielding well-oiled leather, and their performance came divorced of moral calculus or even simple ethical math. Go team!

Now, in the age of information and adulthood, I know as much as I want and sometimes more than I like. Milton Bradley is an abuser. Brett Myers is a wife beater. Josh Lueke is a rapist. The facts are indisputable; our reactions are personal, variable, forged by thoughts and feelings that no one else can claim. When such a man dons a uniform, when he wears the colors that signal his affiliation with a team and a fan base and a region, he draws on the camouflage that fabric and performance and even the fans themselves can provide. He might have good qualities, as a player and a teammate and even a human being, but he is never absolved of the offenses he committed. They are as much a part of his biography—they are more a part of his biography than are OPS+, xFIP and WAR.

The camouflage is always as thick or thin as each fan makes it.

For my part, I was pretty upset when A.J. Pierzynski joined the Rangers prior to the 2013 season. Like practically everyone else who paid attention to baseball, I couldn’t stand the guy. In fact, I thought it cosmic kismet that I had actually been in Chicago—I lived in San Diego at the time—on the very day when Barrett had gone Apollo Creed on his face.

Granted, Pierzynski had never gone Ugueth Urbina on anyone, at least as far as we know, but still, like many Rangers fans, I didn’t want him in our colors—red, white and blue, after all. It seemed akin to naming Charlie Sheen a U.S. ambassador. But like any fan whose personal objections yield at last to team spirit, I cheered as much as anyone when Pierzynski delivered his first hit, his first homer, his first (of few) runner-caught-stealing.

Slowly, then, I actually began to like the guy. My feelings went beyond the usual hate-him-on-their-team-but-love-him-on-yours canon. In interviews, he proved thoughtful, intelligent, expansive and generous. On the field, he played as hard as anyone. From my seat, he appeared a good teammate. What more could a fan ask? He hadn’t hurt anyone.

By contrast, when the Rangers traded for then-Cubs pitcher Matt Garza in July 2013, I emphatically endorsed the move. He’s just the guy we need! Oh, really? Weeks later, after Garza had outed himself on Twitter as a sexist and a sophomoric punk, I wanted Commissioner Selig to retroactively nullify the trade somehow. Emotional dissonance is the default mode when you want your team, but not its starting pitcher, to get the win.

Still, so far as we know, Garza has never brandished a machete at anyone. And Urbina breathes free air. Meanwhile, though not an actual assassin, Seager remains a figurative killer.

Which player—which person—do we really hate?

Hall of Fame voters have their morals clause, and so, as fans, do we. When Seager steps to the plate against Texas next season, he’ll remain among my least favorite players, but I’ll disown any loathing. At least I’ll try. Meanwhile, Milton Bradley is serving his sentence. Brett Myers is out of baseball. And last we saw, Josh Lueke was headed for the Mexican League – two down, one to go and maybe almost gone. Perhaps soon, or someday, the answer will hinge entirely on baseball.

It’ll be just for fun.

John Paschal is a regular contributor to The Hardball Times and The Hardball Times Baseball Annual.
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Detroit Michael
9 years ago

Alan Trammell’s career OPS+ is 110, not 155.

John Paschal
9 years ago

Ugh. You’re right, of course. Thanks for pointing it out.

I’m not sure how I booted that one. I hate being human. It’s one of my biggest flaws.

Of course, this puts the respective OPS+ of Jackson and Trammell considerably closer together, but Trammell still outdistances the Hall of Famer.

We will make the change presently. Thanks again.

Detroit Michael
9 years ago
Reply to  John Paschal

Thanks for your response. The pair of articles was fun to read.

Statistics don't lie
9 years ago

As a long-time Orioles fan, I will add 3 players to the list of loathing.

Doyle Alexander – Before the 1972 season, the Os gave up Frank Robinson to get him from the Dodgers. I mean, it’s not his fault that he was traded for a Hall of Famer, but his performance with the Os was nothing special. If the Os had Robinson as their DH from 73-75, how much difference would that have made?

Glenn Davis – The Os gave up Curt Schilling, Pete Harnisch, and Steve Finley, who each were very successful players, to get Davis from the Astros before the 1991 season. Davis was 30 when he came over and had average 27 HRs/year for 6 seasons in the NL. For the Orioles he spent most of his time on the DL – 185 games in 3 seasons – and then he was out of baseball. Imagine an Os rotation of Mussina, Ben McDonald, Schilling, Sutcliffe, and Harnisch with Brady, Finley, and Devo in the OF.

Jeter – Jeffrey Maier. Average fielding SS getting GGs on reputation alone, who should have moved from SS for the sake of team defense when A-Roid joined the team. Seriously, Jeter had no range.

Jason S.
9 years ago

Alexander was traded for another Hall of Famer later in his career. He was sent to Detroit by the Atlanta Braves in exchange for John Smoltz. He was part of a multi-player deal in the Robinson trade, but still, kind of odd to be traded for Hall of Famers near the start and end of his career.

Mike Green
9 years ago

I don’t hate any players, even the obnoxious ones. Now, a privileged owner who is part of a monopoly yet treats fans disrespectfully…Hate may be too strong a word, but rabid dislike might work for me.

9 years ago

1st place – Barry Bonds
2nd place – Barry Bonds
3rd place – Barry Bonds
Dishonorable Mention – Frank McCourt

Big Daddy V
9 years ago

Anyone who decides to anoint himself as the protector of the “unwritten rules” can go to hell. Of course, Brian McCann and Chris Johnson come to mind, but I have to give the nod to Dallas Braden, who flipped out at A-Rod for running across the mound. Later interviews with other players revealed that none of them had ever heard of such a rule existing.

I’m trying to remember the time a year or two back, when someone got heat from the other team for stealing bases in a blowout – a blowout that his team was losing – but I can’t find it for the life of me.

9 years ago
Reply to  Big Daddy V

I completely agree with the Brian McCann assertion. While he’s far from my least favorite player ever (see every Yankee from 1995-2005), he is completely obnoxious. His seems to be more a factor of being a Barve, but, just as you said, his “guardian of the unspoken galaxy of rules” was obnoxious and completely unnecessary. It wasn’t being tough in a big game (being thrown at in the playoffs, etc) when being tough meant really defending the city. It was being annoyed at guys that took too long to round the bases of a 8-3 game in the middle of July in Miami. I don’t have the time or energy to waste on researching more specific incidents (as a Nationals fan I saw it too much) but….f*ck Brian McCann.

9 years ago
Reply to  Hkeith

One obvious incident is when he blocked Carlos Gomez from touching home plate on a home run because “it’s what anybody would do”, and had never been done in the history of the game.

Coach Buttermaker
9 years ago
Reply to  Big Daddy V

When you break the “unwritten rules” you are asking for trouble. Guys like Carlos Gomez who have no respect for their fellow players are the guys who start the bean ball wars and the first to run and hide behind their teammates when the fracas begins. Standing up for what is the right thing to do is a necessary sometimes and Freeman, Johnson and McCann did what needed to be done before the next dozen Brewers-Braves games became a shooting gallery for pitchers.

Big Daddy V
9 years ago

The beanball wars are far more harmful to the game than “disrespectful” celebrations (which are already tamer than celebrations in any other sport).

9 years ago

John, I didn’t realize that you grew up in Davenport, IA. I am also a Davenport native.

Your “hatred” for Lou Brock doesn’t make much sense to me, especially your comparisons to other MLB players that aren’t in the HOF. Harold Baines and Garret Anderson? Come on now, seriously? Did you mean Tim Raines? He’s at least ranked as the most similar player to Brock by Baseball Reference.

You failed to mention one number in your analysis. 938. Another number you failed to mention, 118.

Both of those numbers are why Brock is in the HOF, oh wait one more number…3,023…

John Paschal
9 years ago
Reply to  IATailgtr24

IATailgatr24: Sorry if the layout got a bit confusing, but it’s the esteemed Scott Lindholm to whom you should direct your comment. (I’ve never even been to Iowa, though in college I did date a girl from West Des Moines. That’s gotta count for something, Iowa-wise. ) Perhaps you guys can hash it out at the Davenport Diner. (Is there a Davenport Diner? I completely made that up.) Cheers!

Scott Lindholm
9 years ago
Reply to  IATailgtr24

That’s all me, I’ll take all the vitriol. And I referenced all those numbers, and why they don’t matter.

9 years ago

The Bash Brothers A’s were all awful — particularly McGwire. I grew up in Tacoma, Washington in the ’80s, and I hated the front-running other kids my age did, rooting for the A’s instead of the Mariners. (Tacoma was Oakland’s Triple-A team and the Mariners were dreadful at the time.)

Kirk Gibson’s home run was one of the happiest moments of my sports life.

Paul G.
9 years ago

Hey, Mr. Paschal. There is reason why those lesser Hall of Famers were teammates with Frankie Frisch. Frankie ended up on the Hall of Fame Veterans Committee, more or less gained control of thing, and then started selecting his old teammates. Frankie had gotten cranky as he aged and decided that all the modern players were bums compared to his teammates. Bill James details it well in one of his books.

Now I’m not saying you need to go dance on Frankie’s grave or anything, but if you do please post video and possibly bail.

9 years ago

Maybe I missed it, but no mention of Bonds, McGwire, Sosa or Canseco?

9 years ago

Anybody who mentions Brett Myers should not forget to include Willy Aybar, who, if it’s possible, is ten times worse.

9 years ago

Any yankee

Paul Blocklyn
9 years ago

Jose Canseco has been punished enough…and by his own hand. He apparently blew off his middle finger while cleaning a gun. Sic semper tyrannis.

Eric C
9 years ago

Ron Gant. Check out his baseball card from 1994 here.

9 years ago

Well done on covering both Boones!
As a Twins fan, I had to suffer through the schadenfreude/self-loathing of “Knobby” Knoblauch, though there was much more schadenfreude after the Trojan Horse Trade to the Yanquis, complete with a case of the yips for the ages. So, I guess he did ‘redeem’ himself in a sense…

However, while in grad school in Chicago, I had to suffer through The Hawk, ‘crowing’ about the South Siders. True, he’s not a player, but the way he talked about players on a first-name basis really drove me nuts, and in the case of “Maggs” Odonez, actually pushed me over the edge into outright hatred. “Paulie” Konerko and The Big Hurt were too obviously great for even the Hawk to ruin, but the phrase “Maggs has wheels” still has the power to bring out a blinding rage.

Anyway, great series- make it an annual thing… and add broadcaster to the mix, please!

9 years ago

How about a first ballot Hall-of-Famer with a WAR about as low as Lou Brock AND a real sweetheart of a husband/philanderer/sexual assaulter:

Kirby Puckett is a double doseof hateability. I feel bad for all the Twins fans who undoubtedly loved the guy for for being the face of their championship teams.

Ray Miller
9 years ago

I’ve rooted for the Cubs and/or Red Sox my entire life; I can’t hate players for routinely beating them. I also have a hard time hating the lesser players in the HOF, although, yes, there is a dubious smell arising from the candidacies of all those 1920-30’s era NY Giants. But the same could be said of a lot of the other Veterans Committee candidates who were the pets of influential members: Joe Gordon and Bobby Doerr, anyone? I have no problem whatsoever with Bill Mazeroski, and I bristle when his name comes up in these discussions–there should be room in the Hall for guys who were the best defensive player at their position for a long period of time. But, in the end, I’m all for a bigger Hall of Fame–these guys were all excellent ballplayers and made a positive contribution to the history of the game.

That being said, I really detest Reggie Jackson. He went from being a hard-working team guy in Oakland to a cartoon-character greed-headed narcissist in NY. He basically said he deserved to made into a folk hero, and the parochial NY media was all too happy to oblige. I can’t think of anyone else who basically boasted his way into a first-ballot HOF induction. (Hall of Fame calibre player? Yes, probably. But a first-ballot Hall of Famer?!) I really believe it will take years to properly sort out his actual accomplishments from the polyester “legend” that was created around him, and that he so actively encouraged. [As a rule of thumb, take any athlete on any NY team who’s getting a lot of attention nationally, and ask: Would he be getting this much attention if he were doing the exact same thing in Cleveland?]

Vincent Cash
9 years ago

I think an interesting article would be about which teams we hate the most.

As a Yankee fan, I hate the red sox, and all the other teams in the American League.

As a baseball fan and human being, I hate the braves, cardinals and dodgers.

Americas team my ass…..

9 years ago

1. Barry Bonds
2. Gary Sheffield
3. Kevin Brown
4. Pete Rose

My unfavorites now, my unfavorites tomorrow, my unfavorites forever.

Ray Miller
9 years ago

Oh, I’ll also add Wade Boggs, who (at least) once refused to swing on a hit-and-run because “I never swing at the first pitch”, thus hanging the runner out to dry–and in the middle of a tight pennant race, too; his elevator never seemed to go to the top floor, either. There was always something about Pete Rose that repelled, even as he demonstrated excellence on the ball field–something about “Charlie Hustle” that spoke more about creating a personal brand than helping the team win; the gambling and subsequent lying about gambling, as well as the all the self-serving stunts on Hall of Fame weekend, etc., merely confirmed the status of flaming a-hole. Roger Clemens also crossed the line that separates competitiveness from “flamer” status; there are too many specific transgressions to list here, but angrily declaring that he doesn’t “give a rat’s ass about the Hall of Fame” kind of says it all. Hal Chase was a crook. Ty Cobb was a psycho and a racist. Jose Canseco was a prima donna, meat head, and rat. Oh, and Kevin Brown, too. Just because. As for non-playing figures: George Steinbrenner (bully and blowhard, whose teams won in spite of him, not because of him); Walter O’Malley (for what he did to Brooklyn); Bowie Kuhn (why is this non-entity in the Hall of Fame?); Scott Boras (any competent agent can get you a good contract; this one will turn you into a delusional, money-grubbing prima donna, too); and Ben Chapman, the non-entity manager of a miserable Phillies team, who taunted Jackie Robinson with racist epithets in 1947.

For the record, for me, Barry Bonds is more of a tragic figure (in the classical Greek sense). And Sosa and McGuire are more pathetic, in a way, than anything else.

9 years ago

I’m sorry, but if anyone hates a player because he “did well against my team” more so than because he’s a domestic abuser/rapist/racist/homophobe you’re just being small minded and petty

9 years ago

thanks for stating an obvious point that was understood and moved past by our esteemed author for the sake of entertainment. I do agree that would Hitler and Pol Pot have formed a baseball battery at some point, they would likely be the most hated.

Pat Cook
9 years ago

Absolutely, no question about it, Neifi Perez while he was polluting my Cubbies. I’ve never enjoyed watching a player less, and I’ve seen a lot of crappy players. Second place: Cliff Bartosh. Third place and rising: Edwin Jackson.

Pat Cook
9 years ago

Lest I forget — my least favorite non-Cub: Carlos Lee. Obnoxious, rude, and played his whole career (minus one forgettable injury-plagued season with the Rangers who I don’t care for one way or the other) on four of my most hated teams: the White Sox, Astros, Brewers, and Marlins.

9 years ago

Excellent article . . . it’s great to run through the memory bank and start searching through the players of the past that I both liked and disliked. As a kid there was no real merit to my decisions ( I despised Cal Ripken because the school I attended made a model of his attendance and I enjoyed not attending). I also loved players like Casey Lankford and B.J. Surhoff but I can not recollect why.

Today, I am avid hater of Josh Hamilton. I hate the constant second chances, press conferences and excuses. I hate the media coverage of how he can be feel good story of retribution, I hate that he wrote a book about it, and mostly I hate that hundreds and hundreds of players don’t get the credit for never developing the issues he had to overcome.

I also have a bias against Nick Swisher. As a Yankee he pulled the famous fake-throw to the RF stands to a bunch of children and then carried the ball back to the dugout. Seems in character for him.

Kevin B.
9 years ago

What about the worst baseball anchors? Christopher Russo, the loudmouth that must have paid MLB to have a show, it’s seriously the worst show, It gives me a headache. Brian Kenny, too far left into analytics that turns people off, plus the dude talks too fast, and constantly feeds his bias (those top 10 shows are ruined by him; mainly just him always trying to explain why he is right). And lovable Harold Reynolds, who I like as a person, but his response to change is, “Back in my day…it should stay the same forever.” (Also his misinterpretation/and denial of analytics (and how useful they are)). There’s a ton from over the ages and on all networks.

9 years ago

Ross Youngs died dude, at the age of 30. So his career numbers being abbreviated is due to death of Bright’s disease at the age of 30 at the height of his career, and hit .322 lifetime, including hitting .306 as he was dying in his last season.

So while it is true that there was controversy because the Veterans Committee had some of his former teammates on it, his admission to the HOF is not a complete travesty, he hit .300 nine times, and then died with years of play ahead of him. So you are a little harsh to include him it seems to me.

John Paschal
9 years ago
Reply to  Steven

Steven: Apologies for the late reply. I just returned home from a fortnight away.

You make a good point, of course. Sadly, Youngs did die at a terribly young age. He might well have gone on to post lifetime numbers (counting stats in particular; his rate stats were great) commensurate with those of other Hall of Famers. Either way, his inclusion in the Hall, as you state, certainly isn’t a travesty.

Many of his contemporaries, Babe Ruth included, considered him among the finest players of the time.

I hope my criticism didn’t sound too harsh. I raise another glass to Mr. Youngs.

John Paschal
9 years ago

Great contributions, everybody. I enjoyed reading them all.

Thanks again for reading … and for responding.