For every player MLB fans can’t help but love and root for, there are just as many that fans want to see fail. From Alex Rodriguez’s troubled career to Barry Bonds being the ultimate MLB bad guy, fans love to hate certain superstars. These are the most hated players to ever put on cleats and step on the baseball diamond.
Alex Rodriguez Is Liked More Since Retiring
Alex Rodriguez will probably never make the Hall of Fame, but unlike Barry Bonds and Pete Rose, his attempts to fix his reputation have largely been successful. One of the least liked players of his generation, when Rodriguez left the game, his redemption tour started.
Rodriguez was hired by ESPN and took full responsibility for his past actions. As an in-game analyst on national MLB telecasts, the formerly maligned superstar has become one of the most respected voices in the business. Even if fans still can’t stand him.
Bryce Harper Signed With The Enemy
Bryce Harper was a phenom when he debuted for the Washington Nationals before he was old enough to drink. In 2015, Harper hit .330, knocked in 99 runs, scored another 118 runs, and bashed 42 homers on his way to winning the National League MVP award.
In 2018, Harper decided it was time to cash in, and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. The only problem was the Phillies and Nats are rivals, which led Washington fans to disown their fabled son. The next season, Washington won the World Series and the Phillies missed the postseason. Call it karma?
SF Fans Will Never Forgive A.J. Pierzynski
One of the best catchers of his generation, A.J. Pierzynski was also a controversial figure with fans. Not known for being the friendliest person in the world, when the San Francisco Giants traded for him before the 2004 season, there was nothing he could do to turn his haters into fans.
Pierzynski actually put up good numbers in his one year in SF, but it wasn’t enough for the team to keep him around. It didn’t help that the Giants traded two future all-stars, Joe Nathan and Francisco Liriano, for one year of disinterested play.
Don Drysdale Wasn’t Trying To Hit Bats
Over a span of eight years, Brooklyn Dodgers’ pitcher Don Drysdale led the National League in hit batsman five times. He wasn’t throwing pitches to make contact with bats, a practice that turned him into one of the most hated players of his era.
Standing six feet and five inches tall, however, players rarely stood up to Drysdale. Eddie Matthews was one of the few players who wasn’t intimidated, and after he was plunked in 1957, he used his fists to let the pitcher know how he felt.
Carlos Zambrano Couldn’t Control His Temper
Carlos Zambrano could have had a Hall of Fame career if he could have just kept his temper in check. As a starting pitcher for the Chicago Cubs, he was nearly unhittable. In 2006, he led the National League in wins. Two years later he threw a no-hitter.
Zambrano was also known as a wildcard. One teammate even described him as a grenade who was best to stay away from. After a miserable outing in 2011, Zambrano cleared out his locker and told the Cubs he was retiring. He would later admit, “It was my fault, the way I got off of the Cubs. It was my fault, not the Cubs’ fault.”
Carlos Gomez Made Himself A Target For Pitchers
In his last two seasons in Major League Baseball, Carlos Gomez played in 223 games and was hit by 40 pitches. While not all of those were intentional, it’s likely more than a few were thanks to his love for showy bat flips and slow trots.
For Gomez, it was a part of the fun. After one particular bat flip against the Pittsburgh Pirates sparked a major brawl, the slugger said, “I’ve been doing this for eight years. They know that I do that. It’s not to disrespect nobody.”
Gary Templeton Made Sure St. Louis Hated Him
Gary Templeton started his MLB career with the St. Louis Cardinals, but he made sure he didn’t stay there. Tired of the city and team, he flipped the bird to several fans one game after being ejected. With no choice but to move him, St. Louis shipped him off to San Diego.
Speaking about his time with the Cardinals, manager Whitey Herzog said, “Templeton doesn’t want to play in St. Louis. He doesn’t want to play on (artificial) turf. He doesn’t want to play when we go to Montreal. He doesn’t want to play in the Astrodome. He doesn’t want to play in the rain. The other 80 games, he’s all right.”
Barry Bonds Broke Records And Hearts
Barry Bonds went from one of the game’s most beloved players to one of its biggest villains. The winner of multiple National League MVP awards and the reigning single-season and career home run champ, Bonds is more known today for his alleged use of steroids.
In San Francisco, Bonds is still loved like family, but in every other baseball city, he is known as one of the game’s biggest cheaters and will likely never make the Hall of Fame as a result.
Albert Belle Was Known For His Personality
Albert Belle was an incredibly consistent offensive force during his MLB career. He’s one of six players ln league history to have nine consecutive seasons of 100 RBIs or more. Despite this production, he was also a locker room problem and not the easiest personality to play with.
As Buster Olney wrote in The New York Times, “It was a taken in baseball circles that Albert Belle was nuts… The Indians billed him $10,000 a year for the damage he caused in clubhouses on the road and at home, and tolerated his behavior only because he was an awesome slugger.”
Ryan Braun Lied To Everyone
Just when it seemed the steroid era of MLB was over, along came Ryan Braun. A superstar for the Milwaukee Brewers, he was also one of the most likable players in the league. When he denied his first positive test for PEDs, it was easy to believe him.
Two years later he was linked to the Biogenesis scandal and came clean, releasing a statement that read, “I realize now that I have made some mistakes. I am willing to accept the consequences of those actions.”
The 2017 Houston Astros Cheated For Rings
Unfortunately for the 2017 World Series champion Houston Astros team, it’s impossible to choose just one player to make this list. Two years after winning it all, it was revealed the team cheated, stealing pitches from opposing teams and using trash cans to signal when pitches were coming.
Jose Altuve, Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and George Springer had their reputations crushed, and it will be a long time before non-Houston fans will find forgiveness in their hearts.
Pete Rose Was Banned From The Hall Of Fame
Pete Rose is arguably the greatest hitter in MLB history, yet is not in the Hall of Fame. How is this possible? During his managerial career, Rose bet on the outcomes of games, turning him into the top enemy of the league.
Even after apologizing, the league has refused to forgive one of the greatest on-field talents the game has ever seen, “I placed bets on major league games in violation of the rules. It was a big mistake that I regret to this day. I apologize to the players, the fans and the game.”
Ty Cobb’s Reputation Was Sensationalized
Ty Cobb was an MLB superstar for nearly a quarter of a century. He retired with a career batting average of .366 and over 4,000 total hits. During his career, he was known as volatile, but also maintained the respect of many of his peers.
After he retired, several biographies were published that painted a less-than-ideal picture of the icon, turning him into a villain for many. Although much of the information in these biographies has been discredited as sensationalized, the damage to Cobb’s reputation will never go away. He’s arguably the most-loathed star of pre-steroids baseball.
Milton Bradley Refused Anger Management
When Milton Bradley was at the peak of his career, he was one of baseball’s elite power hitters. Because of that, teams were able to overlook his issues, even when he refused to go to anger management classes at their request.
In 2007, Bradley disagreed with a call by umpire Mike Winters and had to be restrained by his coach. When his talent no longer made up for his temper, no team was willing to sign Bradley to a new contract.
Jeff Kent Clashed With Barry Bonds
Jeff Kent was a home running hitting second baseman who made his name as a battery mate with Barry Bonds on the San Francisco Giants. During his time with the team, he put up massive numbers but also turned the entire team against him.
Getting into a dugout fight with Bonds didn’t help things. At the end of the day, SF chose to stick by its franchise player and Kent ended up in Houston, where he continued to produce.
Kenny Rogers Fought The Media
Kenny Rogers pitched in the major leagues from 1989 until 2008, and became infamous for one incident in particular. In 2005, while playing for the Texas Rangers, Rogers was infuriated with how the media was handling his contract negotiations.
After one game in Anaheim, Rogers decided to make his frustrations known and attacked multiple cameramen. He was suspended for 20 games, fined $50,000, and was sued by one of the cameramen.
You Either Loved Manny Ramirez Or You Hated Him
When Manny Ramirez played for your team, you probably loved him. When he played for anyone else, you probably wished he would sit on the bench for nine innings. The man who invented “Mannywood” was both a personality on and off the field.
Ramirez was in your face, got into fights with teammates, and even got busted for steroids. Still, he made every team he played for better, making him worth the baggage for the teams he signed with.
Roger Clemens Will Never Admit To His Faults
On paper, Roger Clemens should have been a first-ballot Hall of Famer. He retired with 324 wins and seven Cy Young awards. He was also labeled a diva after famously refusing to carry his luggage through an airport.
Clemens also became one of the faces of the steroid era of MLB, although he still maintains his innocence. Clemens will have until 2022 to be enshrined in Cooperstown before his name is officially taken off the ballot.
Jose Canseco Called Out His Teammates
Playing alongside Mark McGwire for years in Oakland, Jose Canseco shined as a “Bash Brother.” After he retired, Canseco ruined any goodwill he had gained after publishing a scathing memoir about his MLB career and controversies surrounding it.
Not only did Canseco come clean, in detail, about his use of performance enhancers, but he also named other players who he saw using the same thing. He may never be welcomed in an MLB clubhouse ever again, but at least his conscience is clear.
John Rocker Should Have Kept His Opinions To Himself
When he first came up with the Atlanta Braves, relief pitcher John Rocker was a revelation. In his first three seasons, he kept his ERA under 3.00 and became the team’s closer. Then he ran his mouth and it all came crashing down.
Before a game against the Mets, Rockers unleashed an angry, unwelcome, and hurtful rant about the city’s subway riders. The comments did not go over well, and his career cratered as a result. There was no coming back.