Who is the more marketable player in Major League Baseball?
We all know that Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper and Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout are two of the brightest young talents to ever come up through Major League Baseball’s minor league system. Coming in at a combined age of 39, they both clearly have long playing careers ahead of them. It is close to inevitable that either Harper or Trout will make the playoffs at some point in their career. One may even win a World Series at some point. With so much promise and so much upside between the two, which one will drive more endorsement dollars during their career? That is the question of the day today, if you are looking to sign a Major League Baseball player to an endorsement deal, do you take Bryce Harper or Mike Trout?
Tale of the Tape
I want everyone to channel their inner Mike Goldberg here and cue up the gladiator music for our tale of the tape!
Name: Bryce Harper Name: Mike Trout
Birthday: 10/16/1992 (age 19) Birthday: 8/7/1991 (age 20)
Team: Washington Nationals Team: Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim
Height: 6’3” Weight: 215 lbs. Height: 6'1" Weight: 210
Bats: Left Throws: Right Bats: Right Throws: Right
MLB Debut: April 28, 2012 MLB Debut: July 8, 2011
Where they are now
We all know where both Bryce Harper and Mike Trout stand at the moment as Major League Baseball players, but where do they currently stand as marketing assets. Harper, the Washington Nationals’ prospect-of-the-century, has been closing his fair share of endorsement deals off of the field. Bryce Harper currently has endorsement deals with Akadema (baseball gloves), MusclePharm, Swing Away training equipment, Topps baseball cards, and Under Armour. His current endorsement status is driven by hype that the sports world has never seen before. Here is a guy (I say guy as if he’s older than me…) that graced the cover of Sports Illustrated as a teenager in high school, hit the longest home run in Tropicana Field history, and have stories that make him out to be more like Paul Bunyan than a baseball player.
Mike Trout, the Los Angeles Angels bright young outfielder, has gone relatively unknown to the masses in the beginning parts of his young career. He seems to be that guy that was ahead of Bryce Harper on Keith Law’s list of top prospects, but nobody really knew too much about him. In doing my research for this piece I could not find any endorsement deals that Trout has right now. I’m sure he has to have one or two, but the point is that he’s a notch below Bryce Harper in the endorsement category right now.
What makes a player “marketable?”
An athlete’s marketability comes down to a few essentials: talent, looks, charisma, handling of the media, media market, and clutch (handling of the big moments). Those would also be elements that an athlete could use to build a brand. Some are able to build the brand into a marketing asset, some are not. Of course you can have a marketable athlete that is missing one of these attributes, but I would venture to guess that he/she has built their brand on not having that certain quality. Think about it for a second. Anna Kournikova, no talent. Nyjer Morgan, mainly charisma. LeBron James, nothing in the clutch… just kidding you are all way too hard on him, he’s a marketers dream. Other perfect marketing examples would be Derek Jeter, Tiger Woods, David Beckham, Michael Jordan, Tim Tebow, and Lance Armstrong. Those guys are endorsement powerhouses and that is the kind of potential we have between Bryce Harper and Mike Trout.
Media market and clutch are two that can be made up for in different ways, and the biggest way that I can think of is by a high level performance in the playoffs. The playoffs are broadcasted on national networks and garner big media attention usually regardless of city. That’s where a guy like Tim Tebow made up for not being in a big media market (obviously prior to his trade to New York, so shaddup). To be a “marketer’s dream,” you MUST be a winner.
Edge: Too Close To Call
Edge: Bryce Harper - He has sweet hair? Girls like scruff? I'll go with him by default.
Charisma/Handling the Media
Edge: Bryce Harper – That could be from experience, so Trout has room to make up ground.
Edge: Mike Trout – It’s hard to argue with the second biggest media market in the United States.
Edge: Neither – Neither one has played on the national stage quite yet.
Help From Team
Edge: Mike Trout – Trout has Albert Pujols. Harper has unproven promise. For now, I’ll take the Angels.
Edge: Bryce Harper – I laid it out for you earlier. It’s pretty obvious.
Edge: Bryce Harper is off to a fast start but only time will tell!
Harper – 4 (3 decisive, 1 you can decide) vs. Mike Trout – 2
As of right now, Bryce Harper has the early lead on Mike Trout; however, given the fact that they are both the age of a college sophomore, I think it’s safe to assume that they have some time. Under my model of marketability, it was still too early to tell on three different categories and one was more or less up for grabs. Both have the potential to be marketing and endorsement giants. Although Bryce Harper is more marketable than Mike Trout right now, the future is wide open and I can’t wait to watch the battle.
Endorsement information on Bryce Harper from bizjournals.com/washington and ESPN.com.