Twins single game tickets went on sale last weekend and one thing that seems to get fans in the door is offering some unique giveaways. This year the club will offer such items as a Vintage Twins Bobblehead, a Brian Dozier Bobblehead, a Torii Hunter Adult Jersey, and a Fur Bomber cap.
One noticeable name not featured in a promotion so far is the team's highest paid player, Joe Mauer. This got me wondering... Who is currently the Twins most marketable player?
With multiple batting titles and an MVP under his belt, the Twins $23 million man gets most of the attention from the national level. Topps Trading Cards has a very Mauer feel when it came to their 2015 Series 1 product inserts. When MLB Network does their annual "Face of MLB" contest, Mauer is always penciled in as the nominee for the Twins. Even when the All-Star Game was in Minneapolis last year, Mauer served as the local ambassador for the game even though he wasn't elected to play in the contest.
However, Mauer can be a very polarizing figure among Twins fans. He's failed to live up to some fans high expectations of him and his huge contract makes it even harder for fans to accept him. There have been injuries and poor play for a few seasons so it seems like his local marketing has declined even if he's the most nationally known member of the Twins.
Dozier's emergence over the last couple of seasons has quickly made him a fan favorite. When the club sent out their season ticket renewals last fall, a life-sized cardboard cut-out of Dozier accompanied each information packet. He took some of the national spotlight during last year's Home Run Derby at Target Field. Now the club is ready to immortalize him with his first bobblehead doll. Everything seems to be working in Dozier's favor.
Even with the HR Derby experience last year, the name Brian Dozier isn't a national name. Dozier is getting a lot of love from the Twins marketing team and it's easy to see why with his infectious smile and outgoing personality. With a Dozier long-term contract extension expected to be in place before Opening Day, it seems likely for him to become a central figure in the local marketing campaigns.
It was hard to ignore the cheers and the lines for Mr. Torii Hunter at TwinsFest. He's signed for a one-year deal but he sounds like a man that would like to finish out his career in a Twins uniform. There has to be a desire by both parties for Hunter to continue playing but that's a full season away at this point. Fans are excited to welcome back the player that was the most marketable during this generation's best winnings years.
Many younger Twins fans might not remember the last time Hunter played in Minnesota. The names of Mauer and Dozier are out there and a little more familiar. It's also hard to know how long Hunter will be around in Minnesota. The front office will try and ride him out through the waning years of his career and hope his smile brings enough fans through the gates to pay his $10.5 million contract.
Besides being a local kid and a two-time All-Star, Perkins can be electric on the mound. Last year the team featured Perkins in his first bobblehead and they gave away kids jerseys with his number on them. In Target Field's biggest moment of the year, Perkins was on the mound closing out the game for the American League. He's been a vocal leader in the clubhouse and he and his wife do plenty of good things in and around the community.
Relief pitchers don't tend to get a lot of hype but it helps that Perkins is in a closing role. His under contract through 2017 and he's spent his entire career in the organization. There will be younger relief pitchers making their way to Target Field over the next couple seasons so it will be interesting to see how long he serves in the closer's role.
Buxton hasn't even played a game at the big league level but he might be the second best known name on this list. For most of the last two seasons, he's been considered the best prospect in all of baseball or at least close to the top of the list. Casual fans know his name because it has been out there for multiple years and it's easy to get excited when he get compared to some of the best players in the game.
Last year was disastrous for Buxton as he suffered through multiple injures and couldn't stay on the field. He is still young and hopes are still high that he'll be able to overcome the nightmare he endured throughout 2014. He's been on the cover of magazines, books, trading card packages, and his face might become even more recognizable if he could put together all of the talent scouts have seen in him.