When fans loathe you so much they prefer to see [name redacted] to seeing your actual name, you've earned the "honor" of leading off the Fan Foils series.
And no Cubs player, at least of recent memory, is more loathed than Milton Bradley. You might recall that "Gameboard" was, shall we say, a bit of a volatile personality.
Bradley played for eight teams from 2000-2011, never staying three years in one place (keep that time frame in your back pocket). His traditional career slash line of .271/.364/.440 is that of a rather talented offensive player.
The lesson of the Fan Favorites series, at least so far, is that fans love players who bust their butts and don't make excuses. Physical errors and limited abilities can be overlooked if the effort is there.
These are lessons that were totally lost on Milton Bradley. The outfielder showed inconsistent effort and made excuses like they were going out of style. Add on a "that was never a good idea under any circumstance, given the history" contract (a 3-year, $30 million gift from Jim Hendry) and outbursts towards opponents, teammates, the organization, and fans and you have a recipe for trouble.
And that's exactly what the Cubs got.
For their investment, the Cubs could stand just one season of Bradley, as he put up a .257/.378/.397 line for the 2009 Cubs. The OBP was nice, but the underperformance and off-field problems compelled Hendry to ship Bradley and cash off to the Seattle Mariners in exchange for Carlos Silva.
We can blame Hendry for signing Bradley (more in a moment), but he did a nice job getting out from under some of Bradley's contract in exchange for Silva, a different malcontent who was at least useful for a half season.
Back to the signing. Taking a closer look at some of the numbers, we can confirm that Bradley was pretty bad (given the contract) for the Cubs. He was worth just under 1 WAR and put up a 107 wRC+.
That makes our collective stomachs churn. But take a look at that link and back up a line. Bradley was coming off a simply dynamite offensive season for the Texas Rangers. He posted all sorts of career bests (you're shocked, I'm sure) on his way to a line of .321/.436/.563 (that's a .999 OPS) and 4.3 WAR. Of course, he was playing in the Texas launching pad and benefited from a not-even-close-to-sustainable .388 BABIP. When you really break down his season with the Rangers and the following year as a Cub, the difference is the power. Everything else is, more or less, explained by the super-predictable drop in BABIP.
If you look at Bradley's personal life, you can see he's a troubled man. As disappointed, disgusted, disturbed (or any other choice verb) we were at Milton's behavior and sub-par play, I hope he can somehow get things straightened out. The world needs fewer crazies.
So join in the conversation. What were some of your "favorite" Milton memories? And who else "deserves" a look as a Fan Foil? Don't worry... Todd Hundley is already in the queue.