Seiya Suzuki’s Admiration for Mike Trout Highlights Huge Missed Opportunities by MLB

One of the biggest figures in Japanese baseball has the utmost respect and admiration for Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout. If only MLB showed the same reverence and commitment to the best player in the sport.

Trout is already one of the greatest players in MLB history. His greatness has made waves across the Pacific Ocean, with new Chicago Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki giving the Halos outfielder his flowers during an introductory press conference over the weekend. He’s a generational talent and a phenomenal ambassador for the sport.

Yet, MLB has consistently failed to adequately market Trout to the masses. And as Suzuki’s recent endorsement seems to indicate, the league has missed an enormous opportunity with its consistent missteps.

MLB Commissioner Rob Manfred previously blamed Mike Trout for being hard to market

By the summer of 2018, Trout had already won two American League MVP Awards and was pushing for a third. In his age-26 season, he had easily established himself as the best player in baseball and already garnered consideration as one of the greatest ever.

Somehow, Commissioner Manfred blamed the face of the sport for the public’s general lack of awareness regarding his talent.

Manfred said in 2018 (h/t Darren Rovell of Action Network) that, for all intents and purposes, it takes two to tango. Trout responded by saying he was doing everything in his power to grow the game.

Uh, yeah, we’ll probably side with Trout here.

Sure, it’s perhaps easier to elevate the profile of more outspoken characters, whereas Trout is more reserved in nature. But when you have a player who really is that good, there are no excuses. Major League Baseball should have done everything in its power to boost Trout’s standing as one of the best athletes in sports, period.

Some will make the argument that Trout’s visibility suffers from the Angels’ inability to make the postseason. He’s played October baseball just once (2014) in his career. But why should he take any of the blame for repeated front-office shortcomings?

Truthfully, Manfred and his partners at the league offices in New York City have never had a good understanding of how best to relate to players in a mutually beneficial fashion. St. Louis Cardinals pitcher Adam Wainwright suggested as much when he criticized Manfred for almost exclusively siding with owners during the MLB lockout.

It’s a frustrating situation, one made more head-scratching because of how straightforward it should be to market elite talent.

Seiya Suzuki’s love for Trout shows that individual brilliance speaks for itself

When the Cubs officially introduced Suzuki over the weekend, reporters wanted to know why he chose to wear the No. 27 jersey. His answer was simple.

Suzuki, who mostly spoke with the assistance of an interpreter, leaned into the microphone. In five words, he made it abundantly clear who he hailed as his baseball hero.

“Mike Trout: I love you.”

–Cubs outfielder Seiya Suzuki during his introductory press conference

Bear in mind that Suzuki comes to MLB as one of the most highly-anticipated Japanese products in recent memory. The Cubs signed him to a five-year, $85 million contract, the largest ever for a Japanese position player.

However, Suzuki wants to be like Trout. That speaks volumes about the gravity the three-time MVP possesses in the sport.

Trout garners the adulation of one of the biggest overseas stars in baseball. It really shouldn’t be all that difficult to make the American public (and the rest of the world at large) understand why he’s a once-in-a-lifetime player with five-tool ability.

Rob Manfred and everyone else at MLB must increase their efforts in marketing the future Hall of Famer domestically, as well as internationally. He deserves the same kind of push as Angels teammate and two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani.

Baseball must do the leg work to improve the sport’s standing

L-R: Seiya Suzuki is introduced as the newest member of the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout posing during the team's media day
Seiya Suzuki (L) and Mike Trout (R) | Left to Right: Chris Sweda/Chicago Tribune/Tribune News Service via Getty Image and Chris Bernacchi/Getty Images

At this juncture, it’s incumbent on MLB to repair the damage incurred by the lockout.

Owners locked out the players. Even if some fans felt turned off by the players’ steadfastness during labor negotiations, the league office and the owners are primarily responsible for alienating the baseball community and lessening the sport’s popularity in recent years.

If baseball hopes to make up ground, it must draw on the wealth of talent across MLB. That should start with Trout and trickle down from there.

To its credit, MLB has bought into slogans like “Let The Kids Play.” It hired Ken Griffey Jr. as senior advisor to the MLB Commissioner with an eye on youth operations and diversity.

Still, the league must do more, especially as far as Trout is concerned. Manfred and Co. cannot allow his gifts and influence to go to waste.

RELATED: Boston Red Sox: Does the Trevor Story Deal and Carlos Correa Signing Mean the End for Xander Bogaerts?