Help Us Determine Who Is The Face of Major League Baseball

Who is the face of Major League Baseball? When posed to any other sport today it is a question that is rather quickly solved.

NBA? LeBron James. NFL? Peyton Manning. NHL? Sidney Crosby. Boxing? Floyd Mayweather. Soccer? Cristiano Ronaldo. Even faux sports like WWE it’s easy with John Cena. There is a guy to run out in front of every major sporting attraction in the world today—but not Major League Baseball.

This is due in part to the fact that for years now, that job has been divided up along many different guidelines. There are times when the best player (Albert Pujols, Miguel Cabrera) is not necessarily seen as the face, in the same way that the most popular one (Joe Mauer, David Ortiz) isn’t as well. Sometimes, it has been because the notability is a rather dubious one (Alex Rodriguez, Ryan Braun) or because the word is still getting around about a guy on the mainstream radar (Mike Trout, Andrew McCutchen). All things considered, there may have never been a more difficult time to say who the front man for the MLB is — or how to sort out who should be.

But that is where we are right now: figuring out who is the face of the MLB. The MLB Network is currently running its annual poll on the same subject, whose past two winners — Joey Votto and David Wright — show why the notion of a pure fan vote can produce the same sort of dubious outcomes that All-Star voting has in years past. Rallying the people to get behind a guy they like on the merits of popularity and city pride alone probably is not the best way to sort out who is the game’s preeminent property.

On the dawn of a new season that will feature a turning of the page on the man that previously stood in as the face of the game — Derek Jeter — and on the day where longstanding commission Bud Selig official cedes to his successor in Rob Manfred, we here at TSFJ, we are going to take on the task with a bit of a twist. Similar to the MLB Network’s effort, all 30 teams will be pitted against each other with a representative standing in as their foremost player. Yet, the teams are broken down into four categories based around one of the most popular discussions in the game: team money.

The categories are the Upper, Upper Middle, Lower Middle and Lower classes. The basis for the team’s separation is based on payroll power, current expenditures and spending habits. Then, the decision comes down to what all goes into determining a player’s notoriety, which is a mixture of popularity, on-field production and media presence. Each player/team is pitted against each other in a bracket contest that will ultimately come down to a final four to figure the true Face of the MLB today.

And we want your help in taking these criteria, and turning it into results. Below are the representatives for each team, as well as what makes them the face of their franchise. Tomorrow, the bracket that will pit each player versus against each other will be released, and then you can send in your votes on how it should go. Here are the faces of the each franchise, one of which will be the true Face of the MLB.

To win a copy of MLB 15: The Show please fill out our official TSFJ survey in its entirety.


National League East

Atlanta Braves — Andrelton Simmons: Simmons is the game’s finest defender, regardless of position, capable of changing the course of an entire inning by reach virtually anything not hit directly at first base. At 25 years old, he is already on his second Gold Glove and is beginning to come around at the plate as well. He is just scratching the surface of what he will be.

Miami Marlins — Giancarlo Stanton: He’s most notable recently as the owner of the biggest contract in sports history, but more over than that he is one of the most exciting young talents in the game. At only 25, he is coming off a runner up finish in the National League MVP race and is primed to be one of the game’s premier talents for the next decade.

New York Mets — David Wright: While he is coming of a career-low season, his pedigree keeps him as the Wright arguably is as synonymous with his franchise as any other player in the game today. The all-time leader in hits and home runs in Queens, he takes over as New York’s senior statesman now in the wake of Derek Jeter's retirement.

Philadelphia Phillies — Chase Utley: With the departure of his career-long middle infield mate Jimmy Rollins, Utley becomes the unquestioned face of the Phillies. The six-time All-Star has been the best second baseman of his generation in the National League, and his hard-nosed play and work ethic has made him a perfect ambassador for his city.

Washington Nationals — Bryce Harper: He is being aligned as one of the key figures in the future of the game, but the dynamic 22-year-old already has a flare for the big moment as is. Winner of the 2012 Rookie of the Year nod, while he is still waiting to put together the type of monster season that everyone is anticipating, he has already shown he is ready for October. He he clubbed three huge home runs in this year’s Division Series.

National League Central

Chicago Cubs — Jon Lester: His signing instantly made it clear that the Cubs were serious about getting back into competitive baseball, and Lester instantly becomes the face of the franchise in the process. All he really does is win, as his two World Series’ titles and failure to win less than 15 games only once in his career pays testament to. His presence validates the Cub rebuild and makes them an instant threat every fifth day.

Cincinnati Reds — Joey Votto: Injuries curbed the 2010 NL MVP’s summer last year, but when healthy he remains one of the most diverse and consistent hitters in the game. The on-base machine is a four-time All-Star, and owner of a .310 career batting average. The Reds have reached the postseason three of the past five years during his run atop the team.

Milwaukee Brewers — Ryan Braun: All situations are not created equal, and at this point Braun is as much the face of the Brewers for his talent as he is for the PED scandal that shadows the 2011 NL MVP. But at his best, he is one of the game’s top all-around talents, owner of a .305 career batting average, as well as five season of 30+ home runs and 100+ RBI.

Pittsburgh Pirates — Andrew McCutchen: He is easily counted among the top 2 or 3 best all-around players in the game today; there is nothing that McCutchen cannot do on the field. The leader of the Pirates’ revival and the 2013 NL MVP, The Cutch is a Wins Above Replacement monster, having topped a .314 average, 20 home runs and 18 stolen bases for the past three years, while making four consecutive All-Star Games as well.

St. Louis Cardinals — Yadier Molina: The game’s biggest tactical game changer, both for his team and their opponents, Molina is in the short conversation for greatest defensive catcher of all-time. Owner of seven consecutive Gold Gloves and two Platinum ones as well, he has gunned down at least 40% of potential base stealers against him in five of the last six years. He is one of the rare players that makes catching look exciting, and is capable of changing the course of an inning instantaneously.

National League West

Arizona Diamondbacks — Paul Goldschmidt: It was a shame that his season came to close early after having his finger broken by a pitch because he was on the way to another impressive overall performance. The breakout star of 2013, he led the NL in home runs and RBI two years ago, and has made two consecutive All-Star Games.

Colorado Rockies — Troy Tulowitzki: Despite being subject to a now annual run on the disabled list, Tulo’s talent shines just too bright to be denied. He remains the game’s top shortstop, and he proved why resounding in 2014. Despite being limited to only 90 games, he hit .340 with 21 home runs, while posting a career-best .603. He is one of the game’s most thrilling — while tantalizingly unfulfilling — properties.

Los Angeles Dodgers — Clayton Kershaw: His effort on the mound this year was so great that the Cy Young Award just not enough to do it justice — so he got the MVP as well. He has led the Majors in ERA for four straight years, and in addition to being the most dominant force off a mound in over a decade, he is champion humanitarian as well. There has to be a chink in his armor somewhere, right?

San Diego Padres — Matt Kemp: While his star had fallen in Los Angeles, it was more than welcomed in San Diego. Kemp instantly gives his new team the type of notable presence it has long lacked. And while his health has been his greatest enemy in recent years, if he can duplicate the success he had late in 2014, he’ll be a great boost for the suddenly enticing Pads.

San Francisco Giants — Buster Posey: At 27, he is a three-time World Champion, a batting champ, the 2012 NL Most Valuable Player, carries a .308 career average, and is arguably the game’s greatest catcher. He is one of the most focused and decorated competitors in recent memory and still only on the first half of his career.


American League East

Baltimore Orioles — Adam Jones: A tough team to pull one player apart from the pack, with a deep roster that leans on many different elements to perform in its 90+ win concert. But, Jones is the most exciting member of the band, a 3-time Gold Glove winner that has hovered at 30 home runs in each year as well. He is one of the game’s best all-around talents, and has no reservation in showing it.

Boston Red Sox — David Ortiz: He is perhaps the game’s most senior statesman now, with a jovial nature that belies how dangerous he still is with a bat in his hand. He’s still doing the same things he was doing 10 years ago: pounding out 30 homers, making All-Star appearances, and being a frontline face for the game on a mainstream level.

New York Yankees — Alex Rodriguez: Here’s a twist for the proceedings here, but think about it for a second: who is the most notable current Yankee? For better — but most definitely for worse — it’s A-Rod. While his team itself works around his presence and makes the most of the time they have left together, he is instantly the most recognizable and spoken of Yank in the post-Jeter era.

Tampa Bay Rays — Evan Longoria: As the Rays are amid a rapid deconstruction of their familiar incarnation, one part that remains virtually unmovable is their All-Star third baseman. Longoria committed to the club long-term during his 2008 Rookie of the Year campaign, and since he has become a three-time All-Star and top 10 MVP finalist as well. As well, he is the only widely marketed member of the team, carrying the Rays logo to areas otherwise blind to their presence.

Toronto Blue Jays — Jose Bautista: Since his 54 home run breakout in 2010, “Joey Bats” has remained one of the game’s most exciting presences. He has made five consecutive All-Star Games, while winning three Silver Slugger Awards for his all-out onslaught on baseballs. In addition to this, he is baseball’s most engaging social media presences, with over 600,000 followers and 350,000 follows made himself.

American League Central

Chicago White Sox — Chris Sale: The young lefty has quickly become one of the game’s most feared presences on the mound. The gangly flamethrower has quickly reached the inner circle of the game’s top arms while still being years away from his prime. An All-Star in every season since becoming a starting pitcher three years ago, his star should continue to climb along with the suddenly competitive Sox.

Cleveland Indians — Corey Kluber: A tough call, as the Indians are an ensemble collection of contributors, with Jason Kipnis, Michael Brantley and Carlos Santana all carrying a part of the load. But Kluber ascended to the top of the mountain with his Cy Young season a year ago, outshooting a who’s who of American League hurlers to become one himself. While the pressure will be on to see if he can repeat, for now, he is the chief of the Tribe.

Detroit Tigers — Miguel Cabrera: The top hitter of his generation and already among the greatest of all-time with the bat, Miggy is among the most decorated players in the game. A two-time MVP, three-time batting champ, nine-time All-Star, and winner of the ever-elusive Triple Crown in 2012, he is the greatest Tiger since Ty Cobb. His on-field exploits have also made him a face for brands such as Chrysler, his native Venezuela’s state owned Citgo Petroleum, as well as a slew of athletic equipment brands.

Kansas City Royals — Alex Gordon: Years ago he was touted as the future of the organization as a power hitting third baseman, but sparked his career as an outfielder capable of defensive wizardry and being versatile presence at the plate. He is a crossover Midwest collegiate/professional star, Gordon who the mainstay that it is all built around.

Minnesota Twins — Joe Mauer: The ultimate hometown superstar, Mauer made a quick jump from St. Paul-area three sport prep star to 2009 MVP, three-time batting champ and local hero, after he re-signed with the Twins in 2010. He has been the cover athlete for back-to-back versions of the “MLB: The Show” video game series, as well as multiple commercial lines such as Head & Shoulders, Gatorade and Pepsi.

American League West

Anaheim Angels — Mike Trout: Simultaneously game’s top player and prodigy, it is Trout who’s star shines the brightest on the field currently, and has much mainstream potential as well. The 2014 AL MVP profiles to continue to evolve as a player and become one of the game’s great all-time talents, but he has only begun to scratch the surface of his broader appeal. A Captain America lookalike, armed with a long-term contract that binds him to the city of Los Angeles until 2020, the 23 year old’s Subway deal should be only the beginning for where his brand could extend.

Houston Astros — Jose Altuve: He plays a lot bigger than his 5’6 frame, but ironically it is his build that both makes it easy to get behind him and to marvel at the impact of his ability. After leading the American League in hits and stolen bases, the Astros’ lone All-Star is primed to lead the charge to more and more of his teammates joining him in upcoming years.

Oakland Athletics — Josh Reddick: The quirky outfielder is both a diverse talent and interest bearer. On the field, he is a brilliant outfielder capable of making jaw dropping plays. Yet, it is on the microphone where he set himself furthest apart. An ardent supporter of the WWE, he often plays the part of an over the top personality that would fit right into Vince McMahon’s over the top world.

Seattle Mariners — Robinson Cano: He shifted the entire perception of the Mariner franchise when he left the Bronx for the Pacific Northwest last winter. And while the M’s fell just short of the postseason, it has been Cano’s star and continued play at a premier level that has Seattle instantly one of baseball’s prime relocation points for talent. In addition, his alignment with Jay-Z’s Roc Nation Sports has put him on a much larger map of pop culture as well.

Texas Rangers — Yu Darvish: Adrian Beltre or Prince Fielder will likely fight it out over who is the team’s best player, but it is Darvish who is the most dynamic and diverse talent. The best Japanese pitcher to make the MLB jump to date, he is a huge crossover success. Regularly flirting with no-hitters due to his (at least) seven out pitches, he is a big moment waiting to happen.

Again, to win a copy of MLB 15: The Show please fill out the survey in its entirety. Winners will be notified in the next 5-7 days. Good luck!

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