Sports Illustrated has released its annual “World Fame 100” ranking of the most famous athletes on the planet. Only one baseball player made the 2019 list – new Philadelphia Phillies outfielder Bryce Harper.
There had been no baseball players to make the list in either of the last two years. Harper undoubtedly received a big push from his hotly contested pursuit in free agency this past off-season.
The folks at ESPN explain their process in this manner: “To identify the 100 most famous athletes in the world, we started with 800 of the biggest names in sports, drawn from 78 countries. We then ranked them based on a formula that took into account three fame factors.”
Those three fame factors are made up of the individual’s internet “search score“, the annual value of their current endorsement deals, and the size of their social media following.
The search score measures just how often the name was searched on Google by taking “the weighted average of an athlete’s Google Trends peak score (how much he spiked on his most searched day) and his average score (how much he was searched throughout 2018, on average.)”
ESPN uses a variety of resources including contributors to such sites as Forbes in order to approximate the endorsement values. The social media figure is taken from the individual’s number of followers on their most popular account platform.
Harper received a search score of 3, was listed as having a $13 million endorsement figure, and had 1.4 million followers (Instagram) on his largest social media account. Harper ranked two places behind New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski, right behind Bangladesh cricket player Mashrafe Bin Mortaza, and just ahead of basketball player Blake Griffin.
The top four names on the list remained unchanged from a year ago. Soccer stars Cristiano Ronaldo (1), Lionel Messi (3) and Neymar (4) were sandwiched around American basketball star Lebron James, who finished in second place.
Golfer Tiger Woods, a regular in the top 10 since the rankings began in 2016, fell from the #6 spot last year down to #10 in the current rankings. Dropping out of the top 10 from a year ago was basketball star Kevin Durant, replaced by Indian cricket star Virat Kohli.
Harper also becomes the first baseball player to make the Top 100 since the first year that the list was created back in 2016. That year he was ranked #71 with seven more players from Major League Baseball recognized. Mike Trout (73), David Ortiz (78), Robinson Cano (85), Miguel Cabrera (88), Masahiro Tanaka (89), Albert Pujols (93) and Matt Kemp (100) all made that first list.
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