There is a statistic that also marks a reference outside the ball parks of the Liga Arco Mexicana del Pacífico (LaMP) and that is the number of followers that the stars of the circuit have on their social networks.
Roberto Osuna and Félix Pérez, players of Charros de Jalisco; and Joey Meneses and Ramiro Peña, from Tomateros de Culiacan, are in force in the Pacific League Final Series dominating the statistics with the largest followers: Osuna with 179,000 fans on Instagram, Pérez with 195,000, Meneses with 41,400 and Peña’s almost 25,000. In comparison, most of the players from the ninth state of Guadalajara do not reach 4,000 followers and those from Culiacán oscillate between 5,000 and 10,000.
Having a significant number of followers on social networks is not only a matter of popularity, but this translates into an opportunity to generate alternative income to the salary offered by the team, since different brands are interested in reaching their final consumers from of public figures and influential people.
Characters like infielder Ramiro Peña know this, one of the few Tomateros players who has sought to take his image beyond sports through sponsorship with Zoe water, with the design of his personal brand ‘RP19’ and by creating a line of hats. This has to do with the context in which the player developed in the Major Leagues, where one of his teams was the Yankees, a franchise expert in marketing, analyzed Javier Balseca, an expert in sports marketing and sponsorship.
Félix Pérez, the player of the Finals of the LaMP with more followers, he posted on his Instagram channel that for promotional purposes send a direct message. There are no advertisements on his account and although his YouTube channel has had no new videos for two years, he remains active on Twitter by sharing his highlights and stories on Instagram. This is a case similar to that of Roberto Osuna and Joey Meneses.
“When making a comparison, other leagues in the world push their players to shine in all aspects. Sadly, in Mexico, leagues like soccer (MX League) they don’t do anything for the league itself, or for the teams, or sponsors (…) In baseball, the league begins to do it but it doesn’t have strength,” said Balseca.
Through its social networks, the LaMP and its clubs promote the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of each match with a publication and grant awards such as the Héctor Espino award to the MVP of the season, which this season went to the Águilas de Mexicali pitcher , Jake Sánchez, and the Vicente “Huevo” Romo award for pitcher of the year, which went to Elián Leyva (Naranjeros de Hermosillo).
Similarly, in Liga MX, the organization recognizes the 11 best players of each day, it usually replicates some of its players’ publications and in 2021, as a way of promoting its best players, it participated with a team in the Game of Stars against the MLS.
But beyond these actions, the specialist exemplified that in the Mexican Baseball League (LMB) organizations face a problem of economic resources, which means that their structure is limited in its different departments and many times a single person has to fulfill various tasks, so the positioning of each of its players can happen to the background. Balseca added that the LaMP was also “locked in” as a result of its agreement with Sky, since the transmissions are exclusive to the subscription television system and by the OTT Extrabase, depriving fans who do not have these channels of enjoying duels of very attractive playoffs. This strength in their positioning means that brands do not recognize them or are not interested.
Balseca acknowledges that although billboards are hung in the squares and the players are more recognized in the Pacific for their local fans, they do not manage to position themselves as emblematic players. “It requires a very strong strategy of positioning your figures. What do they do in the Major Leagues, Bryce Harper is the figure of Washington and he and the team get the most out of it”.
In terms of attracting brands, players need to dedicate time to social networks, interact with followers, upload content, have a wide audience, but it is a difficult task when they are focused on sports performance, in addition to salaries are not big enough to hire a community manager to do that job. To have a reference, Balseca shared that in the summer league the average salary is between 60,000 and 80,000 monthly.
“Iván Terrazas (player of Diablos de la LMB) got together with other players and hired a community, then Terrazas was playing and from his account he interacted with his followers. There are few who take this initiative due to the cost issue, it should be done by those who have a little more status than consecrated figures”.
Brands are looking for a related and massive market, but baseball players do not have many followers, daily publications, impact or reach, “there is no way for a brand to bet on the athlete because they themselves do not have that strength in communication,” said the specialist.