That according to SportsBusiness Daily, which surveyed oodles of sports business professionals. The list ended up breaking down thusly:
1. Derek Jeter
2. Albert Pujols
3. Joe Mauer
4. Stephen Strasburg
5. Ryan Howard
6. Evan Longoria
7. Tim Lincecum
8. David Wright
9. Alex Rodriguez
10. Dustin Pedroia/Torii Hunter
I’ll accept that list at face value, but I can’t help but think that determining which baseball players are the most “marketable” is not unlike determining which the best football team in Alaska. Maybe it’s important locally, but the winner of the poll is not exactly a national power in that particular arena.
The key concept here is “local,” which baseball has truly become. This is not a bad thing. Regional sports networks have been the engines that have shot baseball’s revenues up to the $7 billion range and which have have primed the pump that has led to labor peace for a very long time. And of course, if you ask any executive at a Silicon Valley or national media company they’ll tell you: local is where it’s at, baby.
But it does mean that baseball players really don’t rate as national ad men anymore. Beyond the outliers like Jeter and some blips here and there by guys like Ryan Howard, ballplayers aren’t nationally recognizable. Some that are have achieved that status by being more notorious than by being whatever it takes to be a good pitchman (see Rodriguez, Alex). If you had to launch a big product with an athlete as your pitchman, you’d go to the NFL(exclusively national platform) or the NBA (way more recognizable and demographically-friendly stars) before baseball every time. You’d probably hit golf and UFC figures before baseball players too.
Which doesn’t really bother me. I like my ballplayers playing ball. Not shilling for Mr. Coffee or whatever.
MLB.com’s Jenifer Langosch reports that Cardinals’ shortstop Aledmys Diaz has been sporting a new look around Busch Stadium with a pair of “strobe glasses,” technology-enhanced specs designed to help athletes focus on the ball. Like a strobe light, the lenses of these glasses affect a player’s vision by rapidly changing opacity, giving its wearers the illusion that the objects they see are moving more slowly than normal. Once a player adjusts to the new speed of play, they gain a greater sense of control and are able to time their actions with more precision.
Diaz isn’t the first MLB player to utilize the technology, just the first Cardinals’ player to do so. It’s been tested by Bryce Harper, Corey Brown, Tommy Joseph, Austin Hedges and Joe Mauer, among others around the league, and has been used for everything from refining a catcher’s reflexes behind the plate to tweaking a hitter’s ability to track a pitch. Per Langosch, Diaz has been using the glasses to hone in on the ball during pregame drills, increasing both his confidence and response time on the field and improving his defense at short.
The shortstop has been the focus of some concern this season after seeing a sizable dip in his production at the plate, and his five fielding errors, 0.6 UZR and 0.6 fWAR haven’t helped matters, either. He sustained a minor thumb injury during an at-bat on Friday night, and was left off of the Cardinals’ starting lineup on Saturday, though manager Mike Matheny didn’t rule out his ability to pinch-hit during the series. While the strobe glasses are a good start, Diaz will need more than a pair of specs to match the spotlight-worthy performance he turned out during his rookie season in 2016.
Red Sox’ left-hander Eduardo Rodriguez may finally get a chance at cracking the rotation again, assuming all goes well in Double-A Portland first. Rodriguez took the field prior to the club’s afternoon session with the Angels, firing 68 pitches in a simulated game as he prepared for an upcoming rehab assignment in Portland on Thursday.
The 24-year-old southpaw suffered a right knee subluxation during pregame warmups on June 1, and it’s been a slow path to recovery ever since. It’s not the first time Rodriguez has had issues with his right knee — he sustained a similar injury during spring training last year — and this time around, the Red Sox weren’t about to gamble with their starter’s health. Ian Browne of MLB.com reports that Rodriguez was put in a knee brace and underwent exercises designed to help him regain some mobility and stability while he worked back up to full strength on the mound.
He’ll still need to prove he can throw a 75- to 80-pitch outing in Double-A, and barring any significant setbacks, will likely rejoin the Red Sox’ pitching staff when they visit the Rangers next month. In the meantime, the club will continue to cycle starters through the No. 5 spot, which has seen no fewer than three different pitchers since Rodriguez hit the disabled list. The lefty is 4-2 in 10 starts this season after logging a 3.54 ERA, 3.1 BB/9 and career-high 9.6 SO/9 through his first 61 innings.