Hitters in 2017 are on pace to crush the previous MLB single-season total home run record, and pitchers think the explosion in hitting can be attributed to something different about this year’s baseballs. USA TODAY Sports
Chicago Cubs infielder Javier Baez, considered one of the most electrifying players on the field, is now finding stardom off the field, too.
Baez, 24, who has emerged as one of the top 10 Major League Baseball players in endorsement deals, signing deals worth $2 million alone in the last six months, is now the face of David’s sunflower seeds.
Yes, the iconic brand of sunflower seeds that has been around ballparks since 1926.
Baez will become the first baseball player to appear on the company’s packaging since former New York Yankees star Derek Jeter back in 2005.
“David seeds is powerful brand, and seeds in baseball goes hand in hand, so we were looking for ambassadors to represent the brand well,’’ said Jill Dexter, senior brand director for David.
“We feel that Javy is a really good fit and match for us.
““He’s a really exciting and bright young star who’s a passionate fan of our product.’’
It’s just the latest, but the biggest, endorsement deal with Baez since the Cubs won the World Series last year. His jersey sales alone rank fourth among MLB players.
Baez, MVP of last year’s National League Championship Series, also recently signed deals with Nike, Toyota, Apple, and was on the cover of ESPN’s body issue.
He even had a street named after him in Chicago this year: Javy Baez Way.
“I haven’t quite seen a popularity explosion like this with anyone I’ve ever had,’’ said his agent, Nick Chanock, senior vice president of Wasserman Sports. “He’s got that sort of X factor. His celebrity is very authentic. You look at his face, and he can tell he’s very excited to be out there.
“I think people like watching him because how much he loves playing baseball. He’s enjoying himself, and people are attracted to that.
“And he has boundless talent.’’
Baez absolutely seized the national spotlight last season with his postseason heroics, not only helping lead the Cubs to their first World Series title in 108 years, but honoring his late sister, Noely.
Noely, born with spina bifida, battled the disease her entire life until dying last April at the age of 21.
“She meant everything to me,’’ Baez told USA TODAY Sports last Fall. “Everything. Everything I do is in honor of her. I know she is watching.
“She’s the one who gives me strength. I can feel it.’’
Now, Baez has been active in charities for spina bifida, doing whatever he can to raise awareness to find cures for the disease.
“I would love for him one day to win the Roberto Clemente award,’’ Chanock said. “That would mean everything.
“You have to give him a lot of credit. Everything he’s been through. Losing his father at a young age. And the way he’s matured. He’s not only playing the game with so much excitement and passion, but he’s giving back, too.
“This is what baseball needs, guys that bring that youthful energy. There’s a human element to these endorsements, and I think that’s why all of these companies want to work with him. He’s just so authentic.
“He wants to use his platform and leave a positive influence in the community.’’
And, oh yeah, make it cool too to chew sunflower seeds, too, instead of using chewing tobacco.
Baez insists he goes through seven packs of seeds a day.
Yes, marketing at its best.