Mike Trout is one of the best players in baseball history, and he’s not even 27 yet.
He finished in the top two in American League MVP voting in each of his first five full seasons. That streak was snapped last year, when he played just 114 games … and still finished fourth in the MVP race.
And still, the Angels outfielder doesn’t have nearly the cultural relevance of Kevin Durant or Tom Brady. Like, not even in the same stratosphere.
According to MLB commissioner Rob Manfred, Trout could work a lot harder to make himself a household name.
“Mike has made decisions on what he wants to do, doesn’t want to do, how he wants to spend his free time or not spend his free time,” Manfred said in told USA Today ahead of the All-Star Game. “I think we could help him make his brand very big.
“But he has to make a decision to engage. It takes time and effort.”
But it’s not Trout’s job to be marketable. His job is to kick ass on the diamond. And he’s doing it at damn near unprecedented levels.
It’s actually Manfred’s job to promote Trout and the sport, and it’s hard to argue he’s been successful. Zero active baseball players appeared among America’s 50 favorite athletes in a recent survey of more than 6,000 sports fans. In May, ESPN dropped their third annual “World Fame 100” list. For the third year in a row, it featured no baseball players. Two table tennis players. A badminton player. Three swimmers. No baseball players.
Could Trout be doing more to promote himself? Subway ads aside, sure. But Manfred’s got a lot of nerve to throw him under the bus when his own record for breathing interest into the sport is spotty, at best.