March 23, 2011
For the first-time ever, Major League Baseball has broken down to the persistent demands of CNBC reporter Darren Rovell and released a list of the best-selling jerseys in baseball.
Actually, that's no surprise at all as I even saw fans wearing Jeter jerseys walking around the Cactus League last week. My guess would be that the New York Yankees shortstop has led MLB's merch sales for at least the past decade, so perhaps baseball thought it was an irrelevant exercise to release the same thing each year.
• Minnesota Twins catcher Joe Mauer(notes) ranks second and Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Roy Halladay(notes) comes in at third. Mauer's spot is surprising, mostly because I didn't know Minnesotans had that much buying power — must be the tax-free clothing at Mall of America — and the fact that a No. 7 Twins jersey probably doesn't buy too much street cred among, uh, "America's youths."
Halladay is somewhat less of a newsmaker, though not if you consider that the Phillies' other stars that could've easily siphoned sales away from Doc. He survived a strong challenge from Chase Utley(notes) (No. 4 on the list) and Cliff Lee(notes) (No. 5). Those types of numbers make you wonder if a Fightins' jersey has been adopted as formal — excuse me, "phormal" — wear around Philly these days.
• Albert Pujols(notes) ranks sixth — probably because everyone in the greater St. Louis area owned his jersey by 2004 — but you have to figure he has a strong chance of unseating Jeter if he signs elsewhere this offseason and starts generating excited sales in his new city. (That Jeter stays at the top of the list by selling shirts to enough new customers despite no change in design or team is pretty impressive.)
• The only three players of color in the top 10 are Jeter, Pujols and Alex Rodriguez(notes) (No. 9), while Ryan Howard(notes) — a player I would've guessed ranks in the top 10 — comes in at No. 18. Hardball Talk's Craig Calcaterra wonders if this means that white baseball fans are less comfortable wearing the jersey of a player with a skin tone that doesn't match their own.
• Is there a bigger sign of New York Mets fans' apathy than David Wright(notes) not only being absent among the top 10, but also the top 20? (The Mets don't even appear in the top-10 teams ranked by merchandise sales.)
• Finally, the Chicago Cubs rank fifth in overall merchandise sales but don't have a single player inside the top 20. If I'm Pujols' agent, I'm bookmarking Rovell's post for when he talks with the Cubs later this year.