Being an Atlanta Braves fan or a sports fan, in general, can sometimes be weird. We can get so invested into these teams and players that we start to think we are actually part of the team. Being a fan is a lot like watching your favorite tv show, you’re naturally going to pick your favorite characters and dislike those you find annoying.
Sometimes you just develop a general distaste for a player because they don’t swing the 34-inch wood stick the way you like it swung. Is it always fair to these guys to get hate on so much for sucking? It’s not like they’re going up to the plate looking to strike out every time just to piss off the guy at home watching on the couch.
Fans can be brutal sometimes, but it’s the nature of the game and these athletes know it comes with the territory and they’re going to have to deal with articles posted like this one where their names are on the list of “Most Disliked Braves Players of the Past 30 Years”. Whether it was a huge overpaid contract where the juice wasn’t worth the squeeze, on field performance, or just being a complete bozo off the field all the players on this list are guys that in one way or another Braves faithful just couldn’t get behind.
After signing one of the biggest deals in baseball history at the time in 2001, Mike Hampton proceeded to reward the Colorado Rockies with a 5.75 ERA over 62 appearances in two seasons. The Braves didn’t care and traded for him anyways for the 2003 season. While he wasn’t atrocious in his time in Atlanta he dealt with bad injury luck missing half of the 05′ season and all of 06′ and 07′. Lot of money spent and not a lot to show for it.
The closer who could never close games. Always a crowd pleaser. After an all-star campaign in the 2004 season with Milwaukee, the Braves thought it would be a good idea to bring in Dan Kolb to replace John Smoltz in the closer role. They were mistaken. In 65 games Kolb managed just 11 saves to go along with a 5.93 ERA and had 7 blown saves.
N0.6 Most Disliked Braves Player – Brooks Conrad
Man, this one hurts. I’m sure Brooks Conrad is a great guy but Braves fans will only ever remember him as the error machine that cost us a shot at the World Series in 2010. It kind of stinks to because Brooks had an awesome year up until that game with clutch hits all throughout the year including 4 game-winning home runs (2 being grand slams).
Game 3 of the 2010 NLDS between the Giants and Braves saw the series tied 1-1. In the 1st inning Brooks manages to bobble a routine ground ball that would have been maybe a double play, one out at worst. Ok whatever no big deal, it happens. In the 2nd inning with a runner on third, Brooks tracked back to shallow right (Jason Heyward should have called him off) and dropped a fly ball that cost a run. Unfortunately, the worst was yet to come. Fast forward to the top of the ninth tied game, hard ball hit right at Brooks. The call on the broadcast that night “Through the legs of Conrad!” echos in Braves fans minds to this day.
No.5 Most Disliked Braves Player – Dan Uggla
Good ol’ Dan “Struggla”. After terrorizing Braves pitchers as a member of the Florida Marlins for years he decided that maybe the grass was greener on the other side. Dan Uggla signed a 5-year $62 million contract with us at the start of 2011. I’ll admit I was hyped when the Braves signed Dan Uggla. 13-year-old me loved watching him play, hell I even modeled my batting stance in little league after him. Editor’s Note: Maybe that’s why you sucked.
Boy was it a rough time though for Uggla. He was in what seemed like a perpetual slump that he just couldn’t break out of in his entire 3 and a half season with the team. In 2011, his first year, there was at least some optimism. He hit 36 home runs and went on an incredible 33 game hitting streak from July 5 – August 14. The following season, there was not much to be excited about. Uggla’s power production that was his biggest attribute fell off a cliff and he hit an abysmal .220 to go along with just 19 home runs. He did however draw walks at a ridiculous rate and despite his poor hitting he actually ended up 3rd in OBP in 2012 among all 2nd basemen, Billy Beane would have loved to have this guy on the Money Ball A’s.
Unfortunately, you don’t pay the kind of money that Uggla was being paid to a guy whose best asset is that he walks a lot. Needless to say, Braves fans were getting fed up with the constant liability that Uggla had become at the plate. He ended up just being cut by the Braves in the middle of the 2014 season and they took the hit on paying the remaining $19 million of his contract the following year.
No.4 Most Disliked Braves Player – Melvin “B.J.” Upton
A lot of similarities here between Uggla and B.J. Upton. In 2013 Upton signed what was at the time the largest free agent contract the Braves had ever dished out at five years and $75 million. Along with his brother Justin who the Braves had acquired via trade, there was a lot of hope that they would be cornerstones of the franchise for years to come.
It didn’t pan out. Upton pretty much was terrible from day one. I had the privilege of being in attendance on Apr 6th, 2013, at Turner Field in the game against the Cubs where B.J. tied the game with a homer and Justin walked it off. It was an awesome moment. Unfortunately, that was one of the lone highlights of Upton’s brief tenure in Atlanta.
There’s not much to really say here about Upton’s stint with the Braves because he basically did nothing, and when you’re paying a player $75 million nothing just doesn’t cut it with the fanbase. The contract definitely was a part of the reason the Braves franchise went into rebuild mode.
No.3 Most Disliked Atlanta Braves Player – Melky Cabrera
“The Melkman” arrived in Atlanta in time for the 2010 season via a trade with the New York Yankees. Though he only spent one year with the team he is still one of the most unpopular players to put on the uniform amongst fans. To be fair he was still considered a prospect with some upside so he wasn’t expected to light up the stat sheet right away but he had the potential as he would later show (with a little help from PED’s).
In contrast to a guy like Dan Uggla, Melky Cabrera showed a distinct lack of effort. He would walk down the baseline after hitting a ground ball, not try to make any extra plays in foul territory, and openly complained whenever he would get moved down in the batting order. Just not a great personality to have around in the locker room.
He continued to rattle Braves fans cages even after he was cut by them. In a series against the Giants in July 2012. Melky decided the best way to deal with the Atlanta crowd was giving them a D-Generation X style crotch chop. He would also fake out fans by acting like he was going to toss a game ball into the crowd and openly taunting Jason Hayward to try and tag up on him. In an interview after the game Chipper Jones said “That’s Melky, and that’s why he’s not here anymore.”
No.2 Most Disliked Atlanta Braves Player – Hector Olivera
Unlike most of the other players on this list, Hector Olivera‘s reasoning for being here doesn’t have anything to do with anything on the field. After defecting from Cuba in 2014, Olivera signed a six-year $62.5 million deal with the LA Dodgers. He ended up being dealt to the Braves later in the year and had a lot of fans excited about the potential that he brought with him to be a high-level major leaguer.
Unfortunately we never got the chance to see if Olivera could live up to the hype. In April 2016 Olivera was arrested in Virginia and later found guilty of misdemeanor domestic assault leaving the victim battered and bruised. Major League Baseball suspended Olivera 82 games and he wouldn’t make another appearance with the Braves or any another Major League team.
No.1 Most Disliked Atlanta Braves Player – John Rocker
If you were making a list of the most disliked baseball players of all time John Rocker would probably find a place on it near the top. Again it has nothing to do with on field performance, in fact Rocker was a pretty darn good pitcher for the majority of his time in Atlanta. He was drafted out of high school by the organization and throughout his 4 seasons with the Braves he posted a 2.63 ERA in nearly 200 innings pitched to go along with 83 saves. The numbers were undoubtably inflated though due to steroid use, Rocker himself said in an excerpt from his book “Yeah, of course I was [taking steroids]. I mean who wasn’t? Let’s be honest here, who wasn’t?” Fair enough I guess.
Rocker’s outspoken nature and antics ended up with him falling out of good graces with fans not just of the Braves but all of baseball. It all started with the infamous Sports Illustrated interview with Jeff Pearlman. In the interview Rocker goes on a tirade against New York and makes many disparaging remarks about people of the LGBTQ community and different ethnicities and nationalities.
He hasn’t done much to rehabilitate his public image in the years since. It seemed like for a while every time he gave an interview he was saying something derogatory about someone. In his appearance in 2014 on the 29th season of Survivor, Rocker proved how much of a roided up meat head he still was by challenging the opposing tribe to fight him after a challenge and telling a female contestant that “If you were a man, I’d knock your teeth out.”
There you have it the most disliked Braves players of the last 30 years. Hope it didn’t bring back too many bad memories. Is there any other players you think should have been on here? Sound off in the comments!