Mike Trout: Baseball’s Best, Without the Brand

“As far as personality,” he said, “they’re completely different people.”

Espinosa also pointed to the differences in their markets.

“We get five to 10 media people in the clubhouse; playing in D.C., you get 30,” Espinosa said. He later added: “Everybody’s awake for the East Coast games. You don’t get to watch Mike Trout if you’re an East Coast kid. That’s just how it is.”

It is true, of course, that many Angels games start after 10 p.m., Eastern time. ESPN does not help Trout’s exposure, either; no Angels games are currently scheduled for its “Sunday Night Baseball” showcase this season.

But the TV explanation goes only so far. A generation ago — long before every fan could watch highlights on a cellphone — a young Ken Griffey Jr. played for a more obscure West Coast team, the Seattle Mariners, and was essentially ubiquitous.

Griffey, whose father, Ken Sr., was still playing in the majors when he debuted, had a chocolate bar named for him; appeared on the first card ever produced by Upper Deck, at the height of the baseball card craze; guest starred on “The Simpsons” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air”; and had his own video game with Nintendo, which owned the Mariners.

“He kind of crossed over into pop culture,” Brian Goldberg, Griffey’s agent, said. “He had some swag. He was cool without trying to be.”

Photo

Kole Calhoun, left, Trout, center, and Albert Pujols celebrating a three-run homer by Pujols in a game against Texas last month.

Credit
Tony Gutierrez/Associated Press

Trout, the first player since Griffey to have a signature shoe with Nike, is squarely in his class on the field. On Baseball-Reference.com’s list of players statistically similar to Trout at the same age, Griffey ranks second, between Mickey Mantle and Hank Aaron….

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