Why we like him: If you're anywhere close to my age, you know you remember this guy. Every few years, some super prospect comes along and has scouts all over the league drooling all over their radar guns, slide rules, and notepads of VORP calculations. Invariably, said prospect ends up mercilessly crapping the bed and fading into the realms of baseball obscurity/hilarity.
Essentially hailed as the second coming of Nolan Ryan, Van Poppel put together an impressive high school career that Oakland apparently loved. Van Poppel even went so far as to try to set his own terms, telling the Braves he would not sign with them as the first overall draft choice (The Braves stupidly selected unknown shortstop Larry Wayne Jones with that pick instead.) However, he was destined for failure before he ever set his ridiculously oversized cap atop that brutally misshapen noggin that was adorned with that dorky face. The A's, in their infinite wisdom, signed TVP to a major-league deal which put a limit on the number of minor league options that could be used on him. The result was that A's were stuck with a raw, unseasoned young pitcher who was never that good in the first place.
The Poppelgänger actually managed to piece together two decent seasons with the Cubs in 2000 and 2001 with the Cubs as a reliever, but Chicago cleverly turned him loose to free agency after the '01 season. He landed in Texas, and his ERA landed well over 5.00 for the rest of his career. When he was at his best, he was bad. When he was at his worst, he was, well, even worse. He did make a career of it for 11 years though, and for that, I respect the guy. And his hilariously elongated head.
Ladies and gentlemen, Todd Van Poppel, ballplayer.