Alex Rodriguez plays for one of the most reviled franchises in all of sports and was suspended an entire season for using steroids, but, at least according to Sporting News, he isn't as despised as a pair of Nationals — Bryce Harper and Jonathan Papelbon.
That conclusion was reached by Jason Foster of Sporting News, who recently ranked the 11 most-hated MLB players of the 21st century. And to him, Washington is currently employing two of the sport's least-loved guys since the decade began, guys who are also more unpopular than Roger Clemens, Rafael Palmeiro and Ryan Braun, to name a few others.
"Until the 2015 season, Bryce Harper was an easy target for fan hate," Foster writes of the Nats' star who showed up at No. 5 on the list, one spot ahead of A-Rod. "He was a mega-hyped, can't-miss, all-ESPN-would-talk-about prospect who had mostly failed to live up to expectations early in his career. That, plus his seemingly cocky nature and weird hair, made for good schadenfreude. Now, he's pretty much a guy you hate because he's gonna do bad things to your team."
So, essentially, Harper is mentioned simply because he's really good and has a ton of hype around him. Uh, OK?
Papelbon, meanwhile, placed at No. 3, mostly for his attitude.
"Maybe you dislike Jonathan Papelbon because he's arrogant," Foster says. "Or maybe it's because he grabbed his crotch on the mound that time. Or maybe it's because he choked a teammate in the dugout...Whatever your reason, rest assured that it's helped Papelbon emerge as perhaps the most hated active player."
Sure, Papelbon and Harper — certainly to a lesser extent than Pap, though — do things that rub people the wrong way sometimes. But having them appear above admitted steroid users and pitchers who throw broken bats at opponents seems fairly ludicrous. These lists are all subjective of course, but Washington fans have every reason to hate the post that is overly critical of two of their players.