With his two-way abilities and global marketing power, you'd expect that Los Angeles Angels star Shohei Ohtani would be breaking records for jersey sales — but that's not quite the case.
In a list of the top-selling MLB jerseys through the first half of the 2023 season, the Japanese phenom was second behind Atlanta superstar Ronald Acuña Jr., who led four Braves in the top 12 of the rankings.
Based on sales from MLBShop.com of Nike jerseys since opening day, the top two best selling jerseys were also the two highest vote-getters in balloting for the MLB All-Star Game, which takes place this week at Lumen Field in Seattle.
Acuña is a dual threat in his own right, an elite mix of speed and power that has him chasing history. He is on pace to become the first player in baseball to have 30 homers and 60 stolen bases in a season. He hit the All-Star break with 21 dingers and 41 thefts, to go with a .331 average and 55 RBIs.
A host of other All-Stars are, not surprisingly, among the most popular MLB player jerseys. Yankees outfielder Aaron Judge places fourth despite missing a significant amount of time this year with an injury that will keep him from taking his spot as an All-Star Game starter.
All-Star snubs Fernando Tatis Jr. (Padres) and Jose Altuve (Astros) round out the top five, while No. 6 Mookie Betts (Los Angeles Dodgers) and No. 7 Julio Rodriguez (Seattle) both showcased their skills at Monday night's Home Run Derby.
Betts topped the jersey sales in 2020 and 2021 after making the move from the Boston Red Sox to the Dodgers. In 2021, Betts led four Dodgers in the top 8, joined by Clayton Kershaw (No. 5), Cody Bellinger (No. 6) and Corey Seager (No. 8).
Kershaw checks in as having the 20th most popular jersey this year, while Seager — now with the Texas Rangers — has the 15th most-purchased threads.
Orioles catcher Adley Rutschman, also a HR Derby participant, joins the list in his second season as a big leaguer.
The jersey sales reflect a growing international market for the MLB and the game of baseball. The year 2021 marked the first time that the top 4 jerseys were for players from four different countries or territories — American Betts, Dominican Tatis Jr., Venezuelan Acuña Jr. and Puerto Rican Javier Baez.
Flash forward to two years later, and nine of the top 20 MLB jerseys are worn by players outside of the U.S. Nine players, including five of the top 10, are players who are either Black or Latino. Of course, you also have Ohtani, who is Japanese; Freddie Freeman, who is part Canadian; Ozzie Albies from Curaçao; and Yordan Alvarez from Cuba.
Here's the list of the most popular MLB player jerseys at the 2023 All-Star break:
The Most Popular MLB Jerseys in the First Half of 2023
- Ronald Acuña Jr., Braves
- Shohei Ohtani, Angels
- Fernando Tatis Jr., Padres
- Aaron Judge, Yankees
- Jose Altuve, Astros
- Mookie Betts, Dodgers
- Julio Rodríguez, Mariners
- Matt Olson, Braves
- Alex Bregman, Astros
- Mike Trout, Angels
- Austin Riley, Braves
- Ozzie Albies, Braves
- Joey Votto, Reds
- Francisco Lindor, Mets
- Corey Seager, Rangers
- Freddie Freeman, Dodgers
- Yordan Alvarez, Astros
- Adley Rutschman, Orioles
- Manny Machado, Padres
- Clayton Kershaw, Dodgers
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