Derek Jeter and the Most Profitable Player on Each MLB Team
There's no doubt that Derek Jeter, despite producing at an all-time low, is the most profitable player on the New York Yankees.
Jeter sells tickets. He sells jerseys. He's a walking advertisement for everything that is the New York Yankees.
Most teams have at least one star attraction who draws fans. Maybe he's a good-looking guy, or maybe he's an electrifying player. Or maybe he's both, and he's Jacoby Ellsbury.
Pitchers will draw the short straw on this list unfortunately. Fans buy tickets in advance. With starting rotations in flux throughout the season, it's an educated guess as to who will pitch when. You think I wanted to see John Lackey face off against Bruce Chen last Wednesday night?
Even for losing teams, it's important to have at least one guy who can sell seats. The Houston Astros had the player in Hunter Pence, and now he's gone.
Everybody knew the Astros would sellers at the trade deadline, but with Pence gone, there's no reason to talk about the Astros. You could never say that about the hapless Toronto Blue Jays when Roy Halladay was on the team.
Some teams, of course, have more than one marquee player, making this choice much more difficult. There's plenty to choose from on the Yankees, Boston Red Sox and Philadelphia Phillies.
But for some teams, there's one player they absolutely cannot lose.
Arizona Diamondbacks: Justin Upton
In 2007, Justin Upton was called up to the big leagues at just 19 years old. There are few better ways to endear yourself to a fanbase than by being young. It automatically makes you a favorite to every fan younger than you.
Upton and his brother, B.J. of the Tampa Bay Rays, are two insanely athletic players who swing for the fences and are known to show off a bit in the outfield with basket catches.
The Arizona Diamondbacks wouldn't have much of a draw without Upton's smooth swing and young face. A little attitude (featured above) doesn't hurt either.
Atlanta Braves: Jason Heyward
Jason Heyward gets the nod as the Atlanta Braves' biggest draw because of his youth (21) and potential (endless).
Heyward has done deep in his first at-bat in each of his first two major league seasons. He's a giant at 6'5'', 240 pounds, a physical specimen who passes the, "Is that a basketball player?" eye test.
Heyward probably is the least expensive player on this list as he's still on his rookie contract. I doubt that will last long, but Atlanta has a better chance of keeping the slugger considering he grew up in Georgia.
Baltimore Orioles: Matt Wieters
Matt Wieters earns his spot on this list as one of the few catchers with star power. Granted, it's quite a dim star given Balitmore's lowly record, but Wieters is the best catcher in the best division in baseball.
Wieters was picked fifth in 2007. Nowadays, it's more and more common for catching prospects to be moved the first base or the outfield (see Harper, Bryce) to extend their careers.
Not Wieters though. He's a defensive stopper, a poor man's Yadier Molina with some pop in his bat, if you will.
He too is still on his rookie contract. It'll be tougher for the Orioles to hang onto him given the league-wide shortage of good catchers.
Boston Red Sox: Dustin Pedroia
The first tough decision. The Boston Red Sox's most profitable player probably depends on who's playing the best at any given time. Kevin Youkilis, Adrian Gonzalez, Jacoby Ellsbury and David Ortiz would all be the main draws on each of the three teams on the list so far.
But my choice is Dustin Pedroia. Lazer Show. Relax.
Nobody on the current roster personifies the Boston attitude better than Pedroia.
He's cocky, but he can back it up. He's small, an underdog, but it never seems to matter. He's a guy you want on your side during a bench-clearing brawl. His production at second base and hilarious personality are irreplaceable on this team.
Honorable mention to Youk, Gonzo, Jacoby and Big Papi. Throw in Jon Lester when he's producing. Nothing like a good comeback story. And if Carl Crawford ever steals bases like he did when he was on the Tampa Bay Rays, add him to the mix too.
Chicago Cubs: Starlin Castro
As fun as it would be for me to write "Carlos Zambrano" or "Alfonso Soriano," I feel bad enough for Chicago Cubs fans already.
I confess to know very little about Starlin Castro, though I hear good things about his flashy fielding. Castro has committed 18 errors already this season, but he's made plenty of amazing plays to make up for at least some of them (check out MLB.com for defensive highlights. It's nearly impossible to find baseball highlights on YouTube).
Castro should be an All-Star shortstop for years to come and a draw every day for miserable Cubs fans.
Chicago White Sox: Alexei Ramirez
Tough call here. Neither Alexei Ramirez, Gordon Beckham, Mark Buehrle or Paul Konerko are really big draws.
Ramirez gets the nod here because he plays the most exciting position (shortstop), but the argument could be made that Konerko should be in this slot because of his home run prowess.
MLB really needs to step up their social media game. If I were doing this for the NBA, I'd have thousands of highlight reels to choose from. Instead I'm scrolling down 10 videos on YouTube just to find a double play.
Cincinnati Reds: Aroldis Chapman
Aroldis Chapman beats out Joey Votto as a rare pitcher on this list. In a way, it's almost to Chapman's advantage on this list that he's a relief pitcher as fans never quite know when he'll be pitching.
Chapman makes the list because of his ability to throw the ball harder than anyone in history. If a 101-mile per hour fastball is the pitcher's equivalent of a 500-foot home run, what's a 106-mile per hour fastball?
Cleveland Indians: Ubaldo Jimenez
I chose Ubaldo Jimenez here but embedded a video of Asdrubal Cabrera. Quite simply, it's one of, if not, the best plays I've ever seen. Moving on.
Jimenez gets the nod here because of his newness. Fans are going to be drawn to Cleveland Indians games simply because Jimenez is there. Fans will buy tickets to Jimenez's starts, raising the attendance in one of ever five games.
If Cabrera could hit, it might be a different story.
Colorado Rockies: Carlos Gonzalez
Carlos Gonzalez gets the nod over Troy Tulowitzki here. CarGo is a five-tool player, and when he's healthy, he's one of the most dynamic players in the MLB.
He's also very profitable to the Colorado Rockies because of Denver's high Hispanic population. Over 34 percent of Denver's population is made up of Hispanics or Latinos.
Detroit Tigers: Miguel Cabrera
Miguel Cabrera earns the first spot for a true power hitter on this list. At any given point, Cabrera can go deep, and that makes him one of the scariest hitters in baseball.
Cabrera's got 22 home runs already this season and is hitting .311, just below his career average of .313. That's a pretty solid average for a big guy like him.
One might expect him to show up drunk and try out the old Adam Dunn/Mark Reynolds 50 home runs with 300 strikeouts season, but Cabrera keeps himself sober (at least on the field).
Florida Marlins: Hanley Ramirez
It goes without saying that Hanley Ramirez is one of the best players in baseball. He hits, he fields, he runs. If there's one player, talent-wise, the Red Sox shouldn't have let go, it's Hanley Ramirez.
Which is why it makes absolutely zero sense that YouTube doesn't have a single Hanley Ramirez highlight to offer this slideshow. An absolute travesty. Clean it up, Bud Selig.
Like Carlos Gonzalez, Ramirez is profitable to Miami because of the city's high Hispanic population. Josh Johnson just can't compare.
Houston Astros: Hunter Pence
Yeah, the Houston Astros will probably sell more Hunter Pence jerseys to burn than any others to wear. Poor Houston. It's like Cleveland, but the Astros were already bad.
Kansas City Royals: Uhhhh...
Do the Kansas City Royals even make a profit?
Los Angeles Angels: The Pitching Staff
The Los Angeles Angels don't have a huge bat with which to go to war, but they do have a strong core of starting pitching. Jered Weaver, Ervin Santana (he of the recent no-hitter) and Dan Haren are three of the starting five pitchers.
True baseball fans will buy tickets to see good pitching. Though my cousin in California describes Angels games as anything but chaotic.
Los Angeles Dodgers: Matt Kemp
At least one Bleacher Report writer thinks that Matt Kemp deserves to win the National League MVP. I don't know about that, given his team isn't a contender. But Matt Kemp is a likable guy with a famous (ex)girlfriend.
Andre Ethier is a close second, but Kemp's production puts him ahead.
Milwaukee Brewers: Prince Fielder
Ryan Braun might be the more complete player, but Prince Fielder undoubtedly sells more jerseys and tickets with his monumental swing, fat belly and crazy hair.
There's something ironic about skinny white dudes from Wisconsin wearing a Prince Fielder jersey. I think they're called hipsters, but I'm not sure.
Minnesota Twins: Joe Mauer
Joe Mauer passes the, "Who do you think of when you think of (insert team here)" test for the Minnesota Twins. Mauer's an All-American guy who could have gone pro in football as well as baseball. All class on the field, works hard, etc.
Oh, and he's the best hitter for average in the MLB when he's healthy. Great swing.
New York Mets: Jose Reyes
This was a surprisingly tough call as I considered David Wright and Jose Reyes. Both players have the ability to put up huge numbers and play solid defense.
I'm giving Reyes the edge here because of the stellar, MVP-caliber season he's having, and he's more stylish and flashy. Things like that matter to New Yorkers. Look at the New York Knicks. Style over substance.
New York Yankees: Derek Jeter
No player in baseball is more important to a fanbase than Derek Jeter. To New York Yankees fans, Jeter is the reincarnation of Jesus, only if Jesus got to sleep with Jessica Alba and Jessica Biel.
Jeter sells more jerseys, more tickets and more advertisement space than any player I can think of, ever. It doesn't matter that he can't hit an inside fastball anymore, he'll be living large and raking cash until he's 100.
Oakland Athletics: Trevor Cahill and Gio Gonzalez
Tough call here because the "Moneyball" strategy naturally discourages the signing of marquee players. The highest-paid players on the Athletics are David DeJesus and Josh Willingham, not exactly two players you want trying to fill seats.
The big draw of this small team might be its young pitching staff. Trevor Cahill, Gio Gonzalez and the not-so-young Rich Harden are all pitchers I remember giving the Boston Red Sox trouble at some point.
When you give my team trouble, I don't like you. But then we pay you more like Carl Crawford, and then I like you.
Philadelphia Phillies: Ryan Howard
This is actually the toughest call for me. The Philadelphia Phillies have a ton of great players and are far and away the best team in the National League.
But being a league away, I don't quite know how great players like Chase Utley, Roy Halladay and Cliff Lee resonate with Phillies fans. Because of this, I'll stick with my rule of staying away from pitchers and give the nod to Ryan Howard.
All fans love towering home runs, but not all fans love the subtleties of good pitching or percentage hitting.
Pittsburgh Pirates: Andrew McCutchen
The now and future face of the Pittsburgh Pirates, Andrew McCutchen has flair, speed, skills and strength, which is probably more than one can say about any Pirates player since Barry Bonds.
I was thinking, before the trade deadline, about whether the Pirates would be buyers or sellers. One thing lead to another, and soon I was thinking of a Carl Crawford, Jacoby Ellsbury and McCutchen outfield at Fenway Park.
I realize it would never happen, but would there ever be a more athletic outfield? I think not.
San Diego Padres: Heath Bell
At this point, this has to be true, right? San Diego Padres fans probably buy tickets just so they can see Heath Bell run in from the bullpen and laugh when he finally pulls a hammy.
San Francisco Giants: Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson
Noted smoker Tim Lincecum and noted crazy person Brian Wilson tie for the San Francisco Giants honor.
Lincecum is worth the price of admission simply to marvel at his mechanics. Similarly, you never know when the Boogyman or Bigfoot is going to pop out of Wilson's beard.
That and the Giants don't have any good hitters.
Seattle Mariners: Michael Pineda
For the past decade, Ichiro would have undoubtedly held down this spot as the premier hitter in the league.
As Ichiro's declined, Felix Hernandez would fill the void as the Seattle Mariners' moneymaker.
Now, with the Mariners' coming off an epic losing streak, the focus shifts to Michael Pineda, the 22-year-old All-Star and Cy Young of the future.
When you can't realistically hope your team wins now, you have to hope for the future. That's why Michael Pineda will sell jerseys for a long time.
St. Louis Cardinals: Albert Pujols
As if it would be anyone else.
Tampa Bay Rays: B.J. Upton
Again, not a single worthy YouTube video of B.J. Upton. I almost chose Evan Longoria here but stuck with Upton for the same reason I'd take Jacoby Ellsbury over Adrian Gonzalez.
It's more fun to watch athletic, slightly showy outfielders than power-hitting corner infielders. Especially for someone whose one career home run came not during baseball but intramural slow pitch softball.
Texas Rangers: Josh Hamilton
Look at that little hop after Josh Hamilton rips that pitch over the stands. That's a man who loves playing baseball, and that kind of enthusiasm is contagious.
Hamilton is good for baseball and good for the Texas Rangers because he is a beacon for young children against drugs. He brings in money in that manner as well as hitting bombs like this one.
Toronto Blue Jays: Jose Bautista
Boom. Again, did you really think it would be anyone else?
Jose Bautista is the only player good for 50 home runs in the MLB right now. Not Albert Pujols, not Prince Fielder. Jose Bautista.
Washington Nationals: Bryce Harper
The Washington Nationals' most profitable player hasn't even touched Triple-A yet. Bryce Harper is beasting in the minor leagues and could reach the majors before he's 20 years old. Think about that.
Harper's making the transition from catcher to left field, where he'll succeed due to his speed and plus throwing arm. What separates him from the pack is hit bat speed. He hit the longest home run of all time at Tropicana Field.
When Harper reaches the majors, he'll likely join Stephen Strasburg, and the two will join forces to end world hunger and bring 17 straight titles to Washington D.C. That's fact.