Angels back Mike Trout after Rob Manfred says he has a marketing problem

Los Angeles Angels outfielder Mike Trout is arguably the best player in Major League Baseball, and one of the biggest names in the sport.

Though, according to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, his brand isn’t big enough. But it’s not the league’s fault for failing marketing its best player. It’s Trout’s.

Manfred was asked on Tuesday ahead of the MLB All-Star Game about Trout and his lack of visibility outside of the sport. If he spent a little more time marketing himself, Manfred said, Trout’s brand — and the Angels’ brand — would be much, much bigger.

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“Mike is a great, great player and a really nice person, but he has made certain decisions about what he wants to do, and what he doesn’t want to do, and how he wants to spend his free time, and how he doesn’t want to spend his free time,” Manfred said. “That’s up to him.

MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said that Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout would be a bigger star if he marketed himself better. (Getty Images)
MLB commissioner Rob Manfred said that Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout would be a bigger star if he marketed himself better. (Getty Images)

“If he wants to engage and be more active in that area, I think we could help him make his brand really big. But he has to make a decision that he is prepared to engage in that area, and it takes time and effort.”

Mike Trout’s visibility outside of baseball

Trout certainly has proven himself on the field throughout his eight-year MLB career. He’s been an All-Star in seven of his seasons with the Angels, and is a favorite to win the American League MVP award this season — something he’s already done twice before. The 26-year-old is about the perfect player for MLB to market the game around.

Now, Trout has done promotional things in the past — including a major shoe deal with Nike and advertisements for Subway. But according to Henry Schafer, the vice president of Q Scores, just more than one in five Americans even knows who Trout is.

Q Scores, a firm that measures the consumer appeal of personalities, said that Trout scored a 22 in its awareness category, according to the Washington Post.

His closest comparison in the NBA in terms of awareness, Schafer told the Washington Post, is Brooklyn Nets forward Kenneth Faried. Based on Schafer’s research, that means that someone on the street would be just as likely to recognize Faried — who averaged just 14.4 minutes over 32 games last season — as they would Trout, who is arguably the best player currently in professional baseball.

“In general, baseball does not do as good a job as other major sports in the U.S. as far as promoting their stars nationwide, especially compared to NFL and NBA,” Schafer told the Washington Post. “[Trout is] basically not a well-known commodity among the general population.”

The Angels back Trout, Trout responds

The Angels backed Trout up on Wednesday afternoon, though, commending him for his work both on and off the field and applauded him for “prioritizing his personal values over commercial self-promotion.”

“Mike Trout is an exceptional ambassador for the game,” the Angels said in a statement. Combined with his talent, his solid character creates a perfect role model for young people everywhere. Each year, Mike devotes a tremendous amount of his time and effort contributing to our organization and marketing Major League Baseball.

“He continually chooses to participate in the community, visiting hospitals, schools and countless other charities. One of Mike’s traits that people admire most is his humility. His brand is built upon generously spending his time engaging with fans, both at home and on the road, while remaining a remarkable baseball player and teammate … We applaud him for prioritizing his personal values over commercial self-promotion. That is rare in today’s society and stands out as much as his extraordinary talent.”

Trout responded to Manfred’s comments late Wednesday night, too.

“I have received lots of questions about commissioner Manfred’s recent statement,” Trout said in a statement. “I am not a petty guy and would really encourage everyone to just move forward. Everything is cool between the commissioner and myself. End of story. I am ready to just play some baseball!”

Trout could certainly do more to promote both himself and the Angels nationally, as Manfred wants. After all, it would only be beneficial for the MLB to do so.

Trout’s reasoning, at least in part, behind not doing more, though, is solid.

He’s simply focused on playing the game.

“I try to do as much as I can, but keep it to a point where I can still play baseball,” Trout told USA Today on Monday. “Obviously you want to get out there, but you’ve got to pick and choose for sure.”

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