If we're talking polarizing or perception being reality, A.J. Burnett's your man. Depending on who you ask, he's either surly or shy, a trouble maker or passionate, and so on.
That Burnett was even available for the Blue Jays to sign, came down to him criticizing the Marlins following a frustrating loss during the 2005 season. As per Joe Frisaro of MLB.com, at the time he said:
"We played scared. We managed scared. We coached scared. I'm sick of it, man. It's depressing around here. A 3-0 ballgame, I give up one run and leave guys on base, it's like they expect us to mess up. And when we do, they chew us out. There is no positive, nothing around here for anybody"
As a result of Burnett's comments, the Marlins told him he was no longer wanted by the club. He did eventually apologize, but the door opened for the Blue Jays to sign him to a five year, $55 million deal.
The North Little Rock, Arkansas native already had a reputation for being injury-prone, and this continued in Toronto. He even started his Blue Jays career on the Injured List and would deal with several ailments during his first two seasons with the team.
The talent was undoubtedly there, but just not on display enough. Along with Burnett continuing to come across to people as unfriendly, he proved to be a frustration figure who fans struggled to get behind.
It was only in 2008 that the righty finally pitched a relatively injury-free season, leading the AL with 34 starts. He also lead the AL with a career-high 231 strikeouts and set another single-season best, with 18 wins.
However, any goodwill that was built up for Burnett during that year soon disappeared, as he opted out of his contract to become a free agent. He subsequently signed with the Yankees and admittedly proved he made the right decision, as they won the World Series in his first season in New York.