Story by Kyle Graham
Who is the current face of baseball?
This question is seemingly asked every year and we still cannot seem to figure out the answer. Baseball is unlike any other major sport because you can make a valid argument for a plethora of players at multiple positions. One can argue that this is a negative thing for Major League Baseball, but I will always argue that it’s a great thing because it always leads to an exciting debate.
At the beginning of the season, Bleacher Report came out with a “Face of MLB” rankings that ranged from the Cleveland Indian’s shortstop Francisco Lindor at #10 all the way to the most handsome man on the planet at #1 (yes, I have a man crush on Kris Bryant and I am not ashamed). A lot has changed over the past four months including the emergence of superstar Aaron Judge and the unexpected slump of pre-season predicted AL MVP Manny Machado, so I decided to make a new list.
Here are my top five choices for the current face of the MLB:
- Aaron Judge
After posting an abysmal stat line of .179 (BA) and 42 strikeouts in 84 at bats last season, Judge has silenced the doubters this year with an astounding .311/30 (HR)/66 (RBI) stat line. He has taken the league by storm with his unbelievable power and by slugging 30 first half home runs, which is tied with José Abreu (2014) for 2nd all-time for a rookie. What is more impressive to me is not how many home runs he has hit but how hard he is hitting them. In the Home Run Derby, he hit four home runs over 500-feet and his average exit velocity for the season is 110 mph. If he keeps this up and avoids the Home Run Derby Slump (he is currently 1-21 since the all-star break), he could easily become the new face of the MLB.
- Mike Trout
It’s been no secret that Trout has been the best and most consistent player in baseball over the past six seasons. The only problem for him is he has been on a pretty bad baseball team for most of his career and being placed on the DL for the first time in his career this season also doesn’t help his case. Still at 25, which is the same age as Aaron Judge, he makes a solid case for the face of baseball purely based off the fact that he is the best position player in the MLB. Unfortunately, being the face of a sport requires more than just talent and leans more on wins and media exposure. Although he is in LA which is a major sports market, they are outshined by their metropolitan neighbors, the LA Dodgers. If Trout continues to play for the bad-to-mediocre Angels, it won’t be long before Judge surpasses him on this list.
- Clayton Kershaw
Now it’s time to talk about the best pitcher in the league, Clayton Kershaw. Kershaw has been the most dominant pitcher in baseball since the first time he stepped foot on the mound. So why is he #3 on this list? It’s all due to his lack of success in the playoffs. In the postseason, he has a 4.55 ERA compared to his astounding career 2.38 career ERA in the regular season. If Kershaw can lead the Dodgers (who just so happen to be the number one team in the league right now) to the World Series this year, he could finally cement his name as the face of the MLB.
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- Kris Bryant
Easily the most handsome player in the league, Kris Bryant is the perfect face for the MLB (literally). Fresh off an MVP award and World Series Championship coming into the season, Bryant was primed to be the face of the MLB and he would be now if it weren’t for the Cubs World Series hangover and Bryant not being selected to the all-star game. Bryant has put up a solid batting average (.272) and 19 home runs so far this year so he still can save himself with a great second-half. On the bright side, Kris and the Cubs have been on fire coming out of the all-star break and are starting to look like the 2016 Cubs again. Their poor play is the main reason Bryant is #2 on my list but if this current trend continues, the 25-year-old will no doubt be the face of the MLB once again.
- Bryce Harper
Ever since he began his career at 19 years old, Bryce Harper has been a force to be reckoned with. Despite his slump in 2016, Harper has been playing like his 2015 MVP self this season. Even though Trout has the slight edge over him talent-wise, Harper has the edge on him with popularity and his swagger. Not to mention the fact that Harper has a great chance of winning a title on a very good Nationals team, which is something that cannot be ignored when you compare him to Trout. Harper also has the same amount of endorsements as Bryant and finds himself on commercials on a very frequent basis. The interesting part about Harper though is he will be hitting the free agent market in two years which opens him up to join either Aaron Judge in pinstripes in New York or with his childhood friend Kris Bryant in the North side of Chicago. As of right now, Harper has the best case as the face of the MLB but it will all depend on what happens here in the second-half of the season.
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Featured image for this story courtesy of BuffaloRising.com