MadBum, Bryant debut in Nos. 1-2 spots on Most Popular rankings
By Mark Newman
The Most Popular Jerseys rankings, traditionally dominated by Derek Jeter before No. 2's exit last year, have a new and younger look with Giants ace Madison Bumgarner and Cubs rookie third baseman Kris Bryant making their debuts on the list at Nos. 1-2, respectively.
Major League Baseball and the MLB Players Association released the top 20 rankings on Thursday, based on sales of Majestic Athletic jerseys at the MLB.com Shop from Opening Day through last week's All-Star Game presented by T-Mobile.
Bumgarner's No. 40 jersey has become a fixture at AT&T Park in the wake of one of the greatest Fall Classic pitching performances of all time, as the 25-year-old left-hander led the Giants past Royals in seven games and earned the World Series MVP honors. He takes a 10-5 record into his next scheduled start Saturday against Oakland in the Bay Bridge Series.
Bryant has the highest ranking of a rookie on this list since MLB and the MLBPA began releasing jerseys sales rankings in 2010, reflecting the craze over his No. 17 jerseys even as they were being stitched early this season. He leads all rookies with 51 RBIs and was selected for the All-Star Game and the Gillette Home Run Derby presented by Head & Shoulders, and he has helped put the Cubs squarely in the postseason race.
Third on the list is Bumgarner's batterymate and National League MVP Award candidate Buster Posey, followed by Dodgers left-hander Clayton Kershaw and Nationals right-fielder Bryce Harper. Hunter Pence was sixth, meaning the Giants have half of the six most popular jerseys sold this season, further proof of the carryover interest in a third title in five years.
Six of the top 10 players on the list are 26 years of age or younger.
Mike Trout, who just won his second consecutive All-Star Game MVP Award presented by Chevrolet, comes in at No. 7 -- the highest American Leaguer in the rankings. Reds third baseman Todd Frazier, coming off his dramatic Home Run Derby triumph in front of his home fans in Cincinnati, debuts at No. 15.
Players representing 12 clubs make up the top 20, which includes eight infielders, four outfielders, two catchers, five pitchers and one DH. Not only is Jeter noticeably absent from this list, but so is his former position: shortstop -- so often a marquee position. That and left field are the only positions not represented.