Whether they know it or not most fans probably keep a mental list of baseball’s most obnoxious players (or any sport for that matter). These are the players that just elicit a gut reaction of disgust when you see them step to the plate. And they might be perfectly fine people, we can’t discount that. In fact most probably donate a lot of time and money to charities and special causes (though some still manage to be obnoxious while being charitable). There are just some players that make it really hard to like them. It might be their personal style, their approach to the game, or a lack of respect shown toward a veteran player. It’s can be hard to describe why we find them so annoying, but we do.
For the first time we convened The Renaissance Fan’s Sports Panel to assemble our list of the baseball’s most obnoxious players. These must be current players. And we put more focus on everyday position players (for reasons we will explain later). We let each member of our panel do their own research and develop their own criteria for what makes a player obnoxious. Our panel consisted of Josh Mulhollem (JM), Jon Pickett (JP), Rob Anderson (RA), and myself (MW). JM provides our lead in:
When approached with this question, the first image that popped in my head was A-Rod’s smug face – adorned in pinstripes and just being so thoroughly hate-able. But I think I’m referring to the guy in the past: before his lies about PED use, injuries, and Father Time turned him into a punchline (with a .205 batting average). He was the punchline, but the Yankees were the butt of the joke. That was the best part.
As I thought about it, though, I can’t say that A-Rod is still one of the most obnoxious. He’s been so beat down by the media, inside and out of NYC, that he can no longer be the arrogant (insert nasty term) that he once was. Last year, while he (somewhat quietly) had a respectable, bounce-back season, I found myself… kind-of rooting for him? It felt gross.
But I digress. Rodriguez may have been one of the most obnoxious players of the century to this point, but I can’t justify putting him there now. Luckily, there’s never a shortage of obnoxiousness in major league baseball. It’s part of the game. It’s celebrated, even. In any other walk of life, a redneck (and racist, as we later learned) psychopath sprinting a hundred yards to his place of work and then yelling obscenities at seemingly no one would be the epitome of obnoxious. But we called it intensity. Only in baseball.
Now here are the tabulated results from our panel:
Bryce Harper walks away with the top spot, appearing on 3 of the 4 panelist’s lists. AJ Peirzynski, Hunter Pence, and Yadier Molina each grabbed multiple votes as well. But there were quite a few players that appeared on only one panelist’s list, indicating that different people are rankled by different characteristics. For JM, admiring home runs was an important criteria in determining obnoxiousness. For JP and RA, steroids played a role in a few selections. General “sloth” was cited as a factor in the selection of David Ortiz and Pablo Sandoval. We by no means consider this list comprehensive, just a snapshot from a small group of baseball fans (with an admitted bias for Midwest teams). But stay tuned for part two of this experiment, when we apply some analyses to this list of baseball’s most obnoxious players to see if Our National Pastime’s built-in criminal justice system sees these players the same way the panel does…
Now, let’s end with some choice words from the panelists about their individual selections for baseball’s most obnoxious players:
On Bryce Harper:
JM – He’s that kid that you hated in high school because he was better than you at everything – and knew it. But he is damn good, and he plays hard. I think, for me, the kicker is the hair. He probably wouldn’t have made my list if he didn’t share a stylist with Gwen Stefani. I hate this trend of new young baseball talents sporting these ridiculous (and obnoxious) mohawks, faux hawks, and whatever-other-hawks. They’re just silly. (Please let it be noted that I also considered Kris Bryant and Eric Hosmer for this list, and they should be thankful that I chose Harper to be my stupid-haired-scapegoat).
JP – I want to like Bryce Harper so bad. I have defended him for the last two years but my patience is coming to an end. So much raw talent but the man is 23 years old going on 12. It is a love/hate scenario: I hate how much I want to love him. It’s like when your best friend starts dating a girl you like; you want to hate your best friend, but you just can’t completely toss them out of your life. Full disclosure: Bryce Harper is not my best friend.
On A.J. Pierzynski:
JP – Boy oh boy, where to start? If there was a Gold Glove award for causing bench clearing brawls, A.J. would surely be in the Hall of Fame. This guy likes starting fights and antagonizing people so much that he is actually now trying out professional wrestling! What is his professional wrestling name you ask? A.J Styles… You can’t make this stuff up folks.MW – AJ acts like he wants to get in fights all the time. There might be a way to pull that off and not be obnoxious (like an enforcer in hockey). But AJ gets in dumb fights, loses, and seems to have kind of embraced being an a-hole. Baseball needs more characters, but this one is just obnoxious. The two photos featured in this article should speak for themselves as well.
On Hunter Pence:
JM – He runs obnoxiously. He throws obnoxiously. His stance is obnoxious. To put it simply, his game is obnoxious.
MW – It’s the socks. I love that style on literally everyone else but hate it with a passion on Hunter Pence. I cannot explain it. It is unquantifiable.
On Melky Caberea
JP – The man created a fake website in an attempt to trick Major League Baseball into thinking he was duped into buying steroids to try to avoid a 50-game suspension. Liar, cheater, chinstrap; enough said.
On Carlos Gomez
MW – Carlos Gomez is obnoxious in several ways. The first of which is that it is frustrating to watch someone with such incredible physical gifts fail to meet his potential because he has no self-control. That manifests itself in him taunting everyone, constantly. And fighting anyone, instantly.
On Yadier Molina (who is not popular with the Brewers fans on the panel)
JP – I don’t know what’s worse, the shit grin or the general cockiness, but that man drives me nuts. Disclaimer: Brewer fan who really hates the Cardinals.
RA – Maybe one of the best catchers in the game, but I hate the way he handles himself, again an air of cockiness (even though it is mostly backed up) drives me nuts.
Chime in, who are the most obnoxious players to you? Is someone on this list simply misunderstood? We’ll return with Part Two next week.