SBD/April 4, 2017/MLB Season Preview

Miguel Cabrera Tops MLB's Most Marketable International Player List By Wide Margin

Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera is baseball’s most marketable international player, according to a survey of sports business execs and media personalities conducted by THE DAILY. Cabrera -- who owns a World Series title, two AL MVP awards and famously captured the Triple Crown in ’12 -- earned three times the first-place votes from our 41 respondents as the second-most marketable players, Mets LF Yoenis Cespedes and Indians SS Francisco Lindor (tie).

RANK
PLAYER
1ST
2ND
3RD
TOTAL
% OF BALLOTS
1
Tigers 1B Miguel Cabrera
9
5
5
39
46%
2t
Mets LF Yoenis Cespedes
3
7
5
28
37%
2t
Indians SS Francisco Lindor
3
7
5
28
37%
4
Orioles 3B Manny Machado
2
9
24
27%
5
Astros 2B Jose Altuve
3
4
5
21
29%
6
Mariners 2B Robinson Cano
5
1
3
19
22%
7t
Astros SS Carlos Correa
4
1
3
15
20%
7t
Marlins RF Ichiro Suzuki
3
2
2
15
17%
9
Blue Jays RF Jose Bautista
1
3
6
10%
10
Angels 1B Albert Pujols
1
2
5
7%


METHODOLOGY
: This being a World Baseball Classic year and with baseball an increasingly global game, we decided to do a separate survey on the marketability of international players, meaning any active player born outside of the U.S. or who repped a non-U.S. WBC team. The survey was distributed to corporate brand managers, marketing and branding execs, agencies and baseball media, who were asked to list, in order, the top three most marketable international players in MLB. Players were awarded three points for a first-place vote, two points for second-place and one point for third-place.

MIGHTY MIGGY: Cabrera easily capturing first place speaks to his staying power and consistency. And with David Ortiz out of the game and Albert Pujols no longer putting up the numbers he once did, few active international MLB players can match Cabrera’s on-field prowess. His first-ballot HOF credentials give him instant credibility with fans. Repped by Diego Bentz and Fernando Cuza of Independent Sports & Entertainment, Cabrera in the past was notoriously particular about products attached to his name. In ’13, he was thought to be earning about $150,000-$200,000 yearly from endorsements. However, that was before he signed an eight-year, $248M extension with the Tigers in ’14, the same year he was the cover athlete for Sony’s “MLB: The Show” video game. Last year, Cabrera unveiled a new "Miggy hat" collection that features a personal brand logo. He has also endorsed Chrysler, Citgo, New Balance, T-Mobile and Wilson Sporting Goods, among others. PLB Sports has its own “Miggy's Salsa” brand in jars featuring Cabrera's face, and he promotes Maltin Polar, a nonalcoholic beer brewed and sold in his native Venezuela. Seattle-based ad agency Copacino+Fujikado Account Superviser Chris Copacino said Cabrera “has that larger-than-life ‘it’ factor.” Copacino: “I could see him representing brands that have strength, power and consistency as part of their brand promise.”

IN GOOD COMPANY: While Cabrera is low-key on the field, Yoenis Cespedes has no problem bringing attention to himself, whether arriving to Spring Training on horseback or flipping his bat after a monstrous home run. Cespedes has also benefitted from playing in the N.Y. market. In ’14, he switched agents and is now co-repped by CAA Sports' Brodie Van Wagenen and Roc Nation Sports' Kyle Thousand. His endorsement deals include New Balance and Franklin. Francisco Lindor is still only 23 years old, and the Puerto Rican has a little less than two full seasons under his belt at the major-league level. Beverly Hills Sports Council’s Rafa Nieves said Lindor has the “personality, the smile and the swag to attract the masses.” While Cleveland has a smaller Latino population than many other MLB markets, Nieves said, “Latino fans follow their favorite players no matter what team they play for. Being on a playoff team is more important because they get that national exposure in October.” Lindor, repped by agent David Meter, has a deal with Pepsi and is in the midst of becoming the face of New Balance’s baseball cleat business. Rounding out the top five in our survey are Venezuelan-born Astros 2B Jose Altuve and Orioles 3B Manny Machado, who grew up in Miami but whose family hails from the Dominican Republic. The 24-year-old Machado is represented by Dan Lozano of MVP Sports Group while the 26-year-old Altuve is repped by Scott Boras.

TOKYO DRIFT: Marlins RF Ichiro Suzuki, now 43 years old, finished the highest of any non-Latino player and received several first-place votes. Baker Street Advertising Creative Dir Bob Dorfman said playing in the U.S. actually helps Japanese players’ marketability back home. Dorfman: “They’ve reached the pinnacle of their game in Japan; making it in MLB is a major accomplishment and new chapter in their brand story for marketers to mine, and with the heavy follow they get from the Japanese media here, no way are they being forgotten back home.” But Dorfman noted Japanese ballplayers have some disadvantages in terms of their U.S. marketability, such as “lacking a significant Japanese consumer base” here and being “more reserved” personality-wise. Suzuki is repped by JBA Sports' John Boggs.

Staff Writer Liz Mullen contributed to this story.
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