Before the World Baseball Classic, Lars Nootbaar was known to fans within the St. Louis bubble, but not many people outside of the bubble knew who he was. He had a funny name, sure, but what was he like?
The WBC catapulted him into stardom, both in the States and in Japan. His Instagram following blew up and has surpassed one million followers already. He was the first player in Japan's baseball history to play for the national team despite not being born in the country itself.
His international stardom can be attributed to his personality and play on the world stage. He made stellar plays in center, led off for the team, and stole two bases throughout the international tournament. Most important, however, was his relationship with the local media and fans. Videos of Lars leading the team before the games and interacting with fans became viral. Nootbaar made it his purpose to cherish the fans and players whom he had never met before and may never see again.
Chris Rose of Jomboy Media interviewed Nootbaar back in April to discuss the WBC. It's a great listen if you have about 45 minutes of your time. In the interview, the two discuss all things World Baseball Classic. Rose does a good job of giving listeners a bit of insight into the player who is Lars Nootbaar.
The international market for a player like Lars Nootbaar can't be matched (except by Shohei Ohatani). I can only imagine the financial benefits of keeping a player with a star as bright and wide as he would be.