COMMENTARY | Every organization has them, players who, for whatever reason, end up being despised and overly scrutinized by fans, the media, and even their teammates.
When considering the Los Angeles Dodgers, a number of guys certainly come to mind who fit in one or both of those categories.
My list, as you might expect, focuses on the period of my life that I've been following the Dodgers and able to process and analyze what I'm seeing and the numbers the players are putting up. My perception and list of which players Dodgers fans despise and scrutinize is based off of what I've seen, read, and observed fans do and say.
Chad Billingsley is both highly overly scrutinized and despised by L.A. fans, despite being one of the few stabilizing figures in the rotation over the last half-decade.
Between 2008 and 2011 -- before he suffered an elbow injury that shortened his 2012 and led to a wasted 2013 capped by Tommy John surgery -- Bills pitched at least 188 innings each year with a FIP of 3.83 or better.
He averaged 3.1 fWAR during that four-year span, while limiting the long-ball and whiffing over eight batters per nine innings. He was comparable value and production-wise during that stretch to Adam Wainwright, Chris Carpenter, Matt Garza, and James Shields.
Think about their reputations with mainstream media and fans, and now think about Bills constantly being labeled as "gutless," unable to perform in big games and the playoffs, and "lacking in intestinal fortitude." It doesn't compute, and Billingsley is getting massively shortchanged.
If one pitch can ruin a guy's reputation amongst the majority of a fan-base, then Jonathan Broxton is proof of how fickle fans can be. One of the greatest relievers in franchise history, Broxton allowed a big home run in the 2008 NLCS.
Apparently, that's all this devious fellow ever did while pitching for the Dodgers, according to far too many fans. He has become a hated figure with so many who root for the Dodgers who see his entire career as a failure and claim he was unable to pitch in big games or late-game, high-leverage situations.
Which is simply not the case based on the easily attainable evidence on hand. It's easy to just remember the Matt Stairs homer and Jimmy Rollins playoff double, but it takes effort and logic to recall the countless times he saved games and got important outs in both the regular season and the postseason.
Broxton struck out 11.5 batters per nine with the Dodgers, and during his peak (before Joe Torre blew his arm out in mid-2010) he posted an ERA+ of 154.
The Atlanta Braves version of center fielder Andruw Jones was a Hall of Famer, mixing power and solid plate discipline with superb defense. He was one of the greatest, if not the greatest, defensive outfielders of all-time.
The Los Angeles Dodgers version of Andruw Jones is one that left Blue Crew fans seeing Andruw as one of the most despised and scrutinized players in the franchise's long, long history. It's obviously not his fault that he signed a 2-year, $36.2 million contract, as that falls on general manger Ned Colletti.
That being said, Jones became a player whom was viewed as lazy and lacking hustle. He was also, without question, out of shape during his one year in Los Angeles. He posted an fWAR of -1.2 that year with an OBP of .256 and just three homers.
Milton Bradley's talent was not on display as often as it should have been, as the ornery outfielder was consistently getting ejected from games and into trouble for anger issues that brought him into direct conflict with teammates and the media wherever he happened to be playing at the time his problems flared up.
From race issues to respect issues to simply not being a very likeable guy, Milton never lived up to his potential, even suffering a serious knee injury after leaving L.A. while arguing with an umpire and being restrained by his coach.
In the end, Milton Bradley did net the Dodgers Andre Ethier, so while fans hated the guy, at least somebody else attempted to buy into his potential and was willing to pay a solid price for it.
Delino DeShields was acquired in the ill-fated Pedro Martinez deal, as I wrote about awhile back. He was not the player the Dodgers and fans had hoped for -- worth 2.7 fWAR total in three seasons in blue -- and, as such, he's been scrutinized and is despised by some, as is wont to happen when a trade goes down and fans are displeased with it.
Interestingly enough, it's often the player acquired who bears the brunt of fan backlash as opposed to the general manager that made the trade and any other front office personnel involved in the decision-making process.
The one-time Dodgers general manager became the whipping boy of Los Angeles Times columnists Bill Plaschke and T.J. Simers, who nicknamed him "Google Boy" and consistently wrote about him as if he had never seen a baseball game or looked at a stat sheet.
DePodesta was only given a year and a half as head honcho, and though his short tenure is viewed as a failure, he signed good players like Jeff Kent, J.D. Drew, and Derek Lowe while not stripping the farm system like the man who followed him has consistently done.
His forward-thinking was mocked by fans and media members, yet all teams now employ people of DePo's ilk.
Greg Zakwin is the founder of Plaschke, Thy Sweater Is Argyle, a Dodgers' and sports card blog. He writes with an analytical tilt about The Blue Crew at ChadMoriyama.com. You can find and follow him on Twitter @ArgyledPlaschke. A graduate of UCLA in 2011 with a Bachelor's in History, he's been a follower of the Dodgers since birth and still mourns the loss of both Mike Piazza and Carlos Santana.
- Sports & Recreation
- Los Angeles Dodgers
- Chad Billingsley
- Jonathan Broxton
- Andruw Jones
- Milton Bradley