Athletes from across the world have been ranked according to their marketing potential over a three-year period from this summer.
- Value for money
- Home market
- Willingness to be marketed
- Crossover appeal
American, 25, Baseball
The charmer who broke sport’s longest curse
Representatives: Scott Boras
Key partners: Adidas, Red Bull, Rawlings, Express
2016 ranking: New entry
Few baseball lives have been as auspicious as that of Kris Bryant. In 2013, he won the Dick Howser Trophy for the college baseball player of the year. In 2014, he took the award for the best player in the minor leagues. A year later, he was the American League Rookie of the Year; last year, the Major League Baseball (MLB) MVP.
Those currents of good fortune must be powerful indeed, because in 2016 they were enough to carry the Chicago Cubs to a first World Series win in 109 years. It was Bryant, the team’s outstanding performer all year, whose throw finally confirmed glory at the end of a long, long seven games.
“He just understands what makes him tick, what makes him happy, and he focuses on those things. He’s not going to change who he is. Nothing will ever get him out of his comfort zone.”- Theo Epstein, Chicago Cubs president of baseball operations
On the field, Bryant’s highly evolved swing has helped him hit the home runs that took the Cubs back to the promised land. Off it, he is unassuming: a teetotaler who toasts wins with apple juice and married his childhood sweetheart in January. But between his looks and, as teammate Anthony Rizzo alleges, a predilection for “free stuff”, he is a rare MLB breakout and a natural brand spokesman.
2017 has been quieter so far for player and team but there is some way to go, both in the season and the career of a hitter in no hurry to extend a Cubs contract that expires in 2022. EC