The Royals are a competitive team now, which means opposing teams no longer look at us with bemused laughter. We are no longer a "feel good" underdog other fanbases root for. We are the defending American League Champs and we rubbed people the wrong way at times last year, which is good. Winners aren't necessarily liked by their peers.
Accordingly, we have some rivals now that Royals fans aren't particularly fond of either. Let's take a look at some of the most hated rival players by Royals fans.
9. Zack Greinke, Los Angeles Dodgers
I got no hate for Zack, but there are some Royals fans who are still upset with the way Greinke orchestrated his trade out of town. Greinke is seen by some as a prima donna, or a just plain weird dude, accused of not giving his all in Kansas City when the team was losing. Of course, the numbers for the most part paint a different picture, and if it were not for the Greinke trade, the Royals probably don't make the World Series last year. But Greinke remains a polarizing figure in Kansas City, as I imagine other ex-Royals like Billy Butler and even Wil Myers could become some day.
8. Carlos Santana, Cleveland Indians
Carlos doesn't do anything particularly irksome other than hit the crap out of the ball EVERY TIME he faces Royals pitching. Santana has absolutely destroyed the Royals to the tune of a .324/.436/.594 line with 15 home runs in 67 games, his best numbers against any American League opponent. While we may not hate Santana personally, we certainly hate seeing him come to the plate.
7. Adam Jones, Baltimore Orioles
Adam Jones isn't a jerk by any stretch - he actually seems like one of the more likeable players in baseball. He just seems to pop up against the Royals at inopportune times. There was the incident in 2011, where a Mike Aviles inside-the-park-home run was called back because Adam Jones was alert enough to call for a dead ball when the ball was stuck under the Kauffman Stadium outfield wall padding. That run was enough to make up the difference in an eventual 3-2 Orioles win. Damn you for your heads up play, Adam Jones!
Jones was the player that broke up Danny Duffy's perfect game bid back in May of 2014. Jones also happens to be the guy that was awarded the 2014 Gold Glove in centerfield, despite a drop-off in performance, over Lorenzo Cain. He seemingly has gotten a lot of big hits against the Royals, although his numbers are fairly pedestrian against Kansas City - .267/.317/.460 in 50 games. The Royals kept him in check in the ALCS, and Jones was pretty gracious during that series, so its hard to hate him too much. Still, he keeps popping up.
6. Joe Nathan, Detroit Tigers
Nathan has been facing the Royals forever, from his days as the long-time reliever of the Minnesota Twins to his more current stint as Tigers closer. He has faced the Royals 73 times in his career, more than any other team. Over that time, he has given up just 13 runs in 10 seasons against the Royals. His 1.34 ERA and 45 saves are the best numbers he has against any American League club. He even dashed Royals fans hearts last fall by picking off Jarrod Dyson in an important September contest when the Royals had the Tigers on the ropes, possibly costing Kansas City the division.
5. Yadier Molina, St. Louis Cardinals
Just everything about the Cardinals seems to rub Royals fans the wrong way, from the self-proclaimed "Best Fans in Baseball" to the "play the game the right way" attitude the team espouses. The player that seems to epitomize that all is Yadier Molina. Molina is a gritty gamer who embodies class, yet has shoved an umpire and taunted rival teams with his t-shirts (a no-no Jeremy Guthrie learned the hard way). Let's not forget this "accident" from last May, either.
And don't even try to suggest to a Cardinals fan that Molina might not even be the best catcher in the state of Missouri.
4. Robinson Cano, Seattle Mariners
This all stems from Cano's snub of Billy Butler in choosing the participants for the 2012 Home Run Derby when Kansas City hosted. Cano had previously committed to choosing a hometown guy, but when it came time to select American League competitors, Butler's name wasn't called despite a career best year in the power department. This led to a calvacade of boos when Cano's name was announced in Kansas City for the Home Run Derby, and those boos did not subside when Cano failed to hit a home run.
3. Jon Lester, Chicago Cubs
Lester is on this list simply for dominating the Royals over the years. In 13 career starts against Kansas City, Lester is 9-3 with a 1.84 ERA in the regular season. He even threw a no-hitter against them back in 2008. Of course, the Royals finally got their revenge in the 2014 Wild Card Game, overcoming a 7-3 deficit to defeat Lester and the Oakland Athletics in thrilling fashion. Now that he's with the Cubs, we probably won't see much of Lester anymore, although we may get one more shot at him this May.
2. Madison Bumgarner, San Francisco Giants
Again, this is more of a case of a player just straight up dominating the Royals, as Bumgarner did in the 2014 World Series, en route to becoming World Series MVP and Joe Buck's center of attention. Bumgarner seems like a likeable guy okay, but I could probably do without ever seeing him on the mound against the Royals ever again.
1. A.J. Pierzynski, Atlanta Braves
No one else could top this list, right? Pierzynski is probably the most hated man in baseball, and he embraces the role. He is on his last legs now in Atlanta, but he was long a gadfly to the Royals and other teams as a catcher for the Minnesota Twins and Chicago White Sox. Pierzynski is the guy that does just enough to irritate opposing players and get under their skin, while not doing anything against the rules. He'll step on opposing players and straight up get into brawls. Here are some more of his greatest hits. I also seem to remember a 2003 series against the Royals where after a walk or hit-by-pitch, he angrily tossed his arm guard at the pitcher while he ran to first base, nearly starting a brawl. In any case, his career will soon be over, and we'll have to find someone else to hate.
So who is your most hated rival player?