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.