Throughout the years there have been a lot of hated Royals, more so lately it seems as the blogosphere allows voices to be heard in an easier fashion amongst fans. Thinking about this, I thought I'd highlight some of the more hated Royal players and managers. To make this whole process an easier read, in the coming weeks, I'll highlight one player or manager at a time until the lineup card is set. Let's start the fun.
Our first player is Mike Jacobs, former Royal first baseman and noted tobacco chew enthusiast.
"That's a lot of chew, bro." -Mark Teahen to Jacobs during a 2009 game
The story of Mike Jacobs is a strange odyssey from late round draft pick, to the centerpiece in a big name deal, to hated Royal, to AAA superstar. Jacobs was drafted by the New York Mets in the 38th round out of high school in Chula Vista, California. The high school Jacobs attended, Hilltop, has produced notable alumni such as singer Tom Waits, author Joan D. Vinge of The Snow Queen series books, and former fellow big leaguer Todd Pratt. The school has also produced notable adult film stars and "Real World" cast members, but that's a story for another day.
Jacobs didn't light the world on fire in the minor leagues, but quietly crept his way through a depleted Mets system until a breakout year in 2003 at AA Binghamton at the age of 22. Previously a light hitter/light power first baseman, Jacobs morphed into a high average/high power guy who seemingly came out of nowhere that year. Suddenly, he was a Top 10 prospect in the Mets system and seen as the first baseman of the future.
2004 wasn't as kind to Mike as he struggled with injuries and hitting upon reaching AAA. 2005 though, played much like 2003 did for Jacobs, as a two year older version of Jacobs dominated AA and AAA before reaching the majors as a September call up. Jacobs came out guns blazing in Queens with a 310/375/710 line and 11 home runs in thirty games. This was the pinnacle of his career.
In what in retrospect was one of the better deals Omar Minaya made during his tenure as Mets GM, Jacobs was sold high as the offensive centerpiece in a trade with the Florida Marlins for Carlos Delgado. Delgado finished in the Top 12 in MVP voting twice in his three years in New York. Jacobs, on the other hand, didn't prove to be as valuable to the Marlins.
Jacobs was immediatedly handed the starting first baseman's job for the continually rebuilding Marlins in 2006. Jacobs put up decent power numbers that year for the Marlins, but was barely above league average as he posted only a 104 wRC+ and 0.8 in WAR.
In 2007, the 26 year old Jacobs should have seen improvement but that was far from the case. The brittle Jacobs missed 48 games, posted a 95 wRC+ and a dismal -0.1 in WAR. The power was still somewhat of a plus but the tea leaves were starting to be readable. He was at best an average hitter, injury prone, a terrible fielder and a terrible baserunner. It appeared Jacobs wasn't going to improve on what he already was and wouldn't age well.
The next season for Jacobs showed that these conclusions were correct as he regressed even more. His average went down, his on base % fell below 300, and his fielding and baserunning were viewed in even harsher light. But, hey, the guy hit 32 home runs, he has to be good.
Unfortunately, this is where the Royals come into the picture. Relatively new GM Dayton Moore decided Mike Jacobs was a guy worth trading for and promptly traded young reliever Leo Nunez to the Marlins for Jacobs. At the time, the jury was still out on Moore as a GM in Kansas City. Some were happy that Moore got owner David Glass to open up his wallet and pony up for high priced free agents. On the other hand, a lot of people were upset the wallet was opened up for the likes of Gil Meche and Jose Guillen. After the Guillen signing for $36 million the previous offseason, Moore's trade for Jacobs made the questions grow louder as to whether Moore could properly gauge major league talent.
Jacobs one season was, to put it kindly, forgettable. He regressed even more yet again with a 78 wRC+ and a WAR value rating of -0.8. To compound the situation, Jacobs wasn't a very likable guy and a fan favorite in Kila Ka'aihue was seen as being blocked by an incompetent player.
To put the whole picture together, it can be argued that Jacobs is not as much hated for who he was as a player, but for what he represents from an organizational standpoint. Trading young talent for proven below average major league talent was a big red flag for Royals fans. The Royals weren't going to win in 2009, why did Moore choose to go into "win now" mode? And why did Moore do it by trading a young player with potential for known below average player with no potential?
Mike Jacobs will forever be the poster boy for these questions of Moore's credibility and talent evaluation until Moore proves us wrong. Sorry Mike, but that's the truth. You didn't help yourself by performing so badly and playing only seven major league games since leaving Kansas City. For these reasons, you are one of the "Prime 9" of Most Hated Royals.