Mike Trout has been an All-Star in all seven of his seasons with the Los Angeles Angels, has received the MVP awards for the American League twice, and has never finished lower than fourth in MVP voting at the MLB All-Star Game. The Washington Post reckons that his current pace might yield “the greatest season ever produced”, so why isn’t he more well-known?
According to MLB Comissioner Rob Manfred, it’s all because of Trout’s disinterest in “participating”.
“Mike has made decisions on what he wants to do, doesn’t want to do, how he wants to spend his free time or not spend his free time,” Manfred said, via USA Today. “I think we could help him make his brand very big. But he has to make a decision to engage. It takes time and effort.”
To USA Today a day earlier, Trout had defended his current “participation levels”, saying, “I try to do as much as I can, but keep it to a point where I can still play baseball.”
He continued, “Obviously you want to get out there, but you’ve got to pick and choose, for sure.”
Henry Schafer, the executive vice president of Q Scores, a firm which measures consumer appeal of personalities, explained to The Washington Post that Trout’s sport isn’t doing him any favors. “In general, baseball does not do as good a job as other major sports in the U.S. as far as promoting their stars nationwide, especially compared to NFL and NBA. He’s basically not a well-known commodity among the general population.”
Schafer added that Trump’s current Q score is 22, meaning that one in five Americans know him.
Trout currently holds endorsements with such companies as Nike and Rawlings, though he’s held endorsements with Subway, J&J Snacks and more in the past. Between his salary and endorsements, he was set to earn $36 million in 2018, lending him another bullet point on his resume: the highest paid MLB player, for the first time in his career.
Specifically, Trout’s endorsements are set to earn him $2.5 million, while his salary will earn him $32 million.
In a SportsBusiness Daily Survey in 2017, Trout was labeled the most marketable player in the MLB, which is perhaps what has led to general confusion as to why he’s not more well-known.
Ted Berg of USA Today has three theories for why Trout isn’t more well-known, despite holding a ranking in baseball akin to LeBron James for the NBA or Tom Brady for the NFL: the schedule, the game itself, and the culture.
For the schedule: “Following any one baseball team closely during the summer requires something near a full-time commitment, so the sport seems better suited to breeding regional stars than national ones.”
For the game, itself: “A casual fan, unfamiliar with the players’ stats or reputations, could conceivably attend and closely watch a full three-game series featuring both Miguel Cabrera and Jeff Francoeur and leave with little sense whatsoever of who is the better hitter.”
For the culture: “Distrust of self-promoters exists in all walks of life, but rarely does it seem more deeply embedded than it does in MLB clubhouses. The sport’s much-lamented, oft-dumb unwritten rules state rather clearly that a ballplayer must respect the game above all else.”
Source: Heavy Sports