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, 23, Baseball
The face of a new generation of baseball players
Representatives: Boras Corporation
Key partners: Under Armour, MusclePharm, Gatorade, New Era
2015 ranking: New entry
‘Aggressive, young and fearless’ is how sportswear brand Under Armour described Washington Nationals right-fielder Bryce Harper in May, after signing the 23-year-old to a ten-year endorsement deal believed to be the largest in Major League Baseball (MLB) history. Having initially signed with the sportswear brand as a raw and promising 18-year-old first draft pick, Harper penned his first renewal as the National League’s reigning MVP, the youngest ever player to be unanimously voted to that award.
When MLB’s commissioner Rob Manfred laid out his vision for the future of baseball at his inauguration last year, among his priorities for driving the sport into a bold new era were encouraging greater youth involvement and a pacier approach to the game. In his meteoric rise from junior level and his aggressive batting style – he hit home runs in four consecutive games to reach his career century already in April – Harper offers Manfred an exemplary figure for both those initiatives.
The new commissioner’s third major priority was improving baseball’s commercial outlook, demanding more intense marketing of its big teams and, especially, its stars. Harper, along with fellow most marketable entrant Mike Trout, is leading the way on that front, too. His ground-breaking deal with Under Armour followed high-profile endorsements for Gatorade and New Era, and both he and Manfred will believe there is scope to add to this in the coming years, as MLB firmly sets it sights on a return to the glory years. AN
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