Major League Baseball has made no secret of their lust for young fans to get hooked on their product but have failed at nearly every turn. Instead of focusing on brand awareness, they focus on intentional walk pitches and mound visits. The fact of the matter is that if MLB can’t market the 2019 postseason to folks under 35, they don’t deserve the youth market they covet.
The 2019 postseason is filled with young and exciting players who can truly capture the hearts of young fans who want to see amazing athleticism night after night.
Trea Turner (Nationals, NLWC) is only 26 years old and ranks in the top 10 for the national league in batting average, doubles and stolen bases. He has a .298/.353/.497 batting line and 2.4 WAR but most outside of baseball have never heard of him.
The Matts (Athletics, ALWC) in Oakland could go down as the best 1B/3B tandem in baseball if they continue on their current pace. Matt Olson (1B) is a 25 year old Gold Glover with 36 home runs on a season shortened by injury. His 5.1 WAR is pretty good in itself but he has the second highest WPA (Win Probability Added) in the American League at 4.7. All of this in his second full season with the squad.
Then there is his counterpart over at third, Matt Chapman. Chapman is likely to amaze viewers of the Wild Card game, hosted on his home field, as he expertly navigates his diamond. The All Star, Platinum Glove winner ranks second in Defensive WAR, seventh in home runs, sixth in WPA, first in assists (3B), first in putouts (3B), and first in fielding %. Chapman puts on a master course in defensive play every night in Oakland and is as exciting to watch as any player in the hot corner has ever been. But most outside of baseball have never heard of either of the Matts.
How about Austin Meadows (Rays, ALWC), the All Star 24 year old with 33 home runs? He ranks in the top 10 in slugging%, OBP, Triples, OPS+, Situational Wins Added, and boasts a 3.8 WAR. Or what about Ronald Acuna Jr.(Braves, NLDS) who is following up his Rookie of the Year season by launching 41 home runs, stealing 37 bases and leading the National League in runs scored? Why isn’t this 21 year old being marketed like crazy?
And that is just a select few players who are making huge impacts on the game at a young age. It says nothing about the established players like Freddie Freeman who are consistently valuable to their teams or to the rising stars like Marcus Semien who have grinded from obscurity to MVP candidate through hard work and dedication to the game.
And what about the pitchers? Has a postseason ever started with a more elite group of pitchers? The Astros alone could put Justin Verlander or Gerrit Cole on the mound while the Dodgers hand the ball to Clayton Kershaw or Hyun-Jin Ryu.
Major League Baseball is enjoying an embarrassment of riches this season with record setting home runs, four teams finishing with 100+ wins for the first time ever (and two Wild Card teams who were within striking distance of 100 themselves), and a young, exciting crop of newcomers and rookies who are amazing their respective fan bases.
But, what will MLB do with these riches? Squander it. The Wild Card games will be buried on TBS or ESPN on Tuesday or Wednesday nights. Both of these games promise to be exciting and are more than worthy of a proper network airing.
The same old announcing crew that fans have complained about for years will undoubtedly be handed their mics again. ***As a side note, I am a firm believer that the home team television crew should be the ones to call playoff games. Who knows the teams better than those folks?
Lastly, there will be very little marketing directed at folks who aren’t already watching baseball. It does no good to advertise the ALWC during an Oakland or Tampa Bay telecast. Those fans already know! This is fall baseball, put some money behind getting eyes on the games.
There are so many great stories to be told with this group of players. From the incredibly talented youth to the fan favorite elder-statesmen, from unstoppable offense to unbeatable defense, and one of the best group of pitchers the game could possibly assemble.
Baseball isn’t hurting because it took too long to intentionally walk a batter or because managers put pitchers in for one batter, it’s hurting because baseball hasn’t done enough to market, promote, and expose their incredible talent pool to the people who aren’t already watching games.
The 2019 postseason may be their best chance to capture new fans and excite people over the greatest game there is but as long as Joe Buck gets the mic and Matt Chapman is an unknown outside of Oakland, it just doesn’t appear baseball understands what needs to be done.
Featured picture: 2019 Topps Now MLB #921