With Major League Baseball and the Players Union reaching an agreement to start regular season games in late July, baseball fans are getting a season like no other in a year like no other. And while most of us would be just fine standing in front of a Men In Black “flashy thing” and forgetting 2020, there will be beautiful gloves on the field, and that’s something to look forward to.
From simple and stylish to innovative and transcendent, here is some of the leather I’m excited to see.
Mookie Betts | Wilson A2K MB50
As soon as the trade to send the 2018 MVP, Mookie Betts, to the Dodgers was complete, visions of Mookie’s new gamer danced in my head. His previous namesake 12.75” Wilson A2K MB50 ($360 at BaseballExpress.com) was heavy on Red Sox colors, so an adjustment would have to be made before being fully embraced by Dodgers Nation.
Wilson is incorporating both aesthetic and performance enhancements into their glove lines going forward, the most visually prominent of which is the oval-less, circle-less Wilson logos on the wrist and thumb.
Mookie’s new A2K MB50 features a full SuperSkin back with a one-piece wrist, which is a drastic weight reduction without sacrificing durability. The glove itself is a 1/4” shorter than his previous model, measuring in at 12.5”.
Betts says that it gives him more control, and given his infield background, he felt like he could handle it better at that size. This glove is stunning, and there is talk of it becoming a Wilson exclusive later this year.
Ramón Laureano | Easton Professional Reserve RL22
(photo credit: Kenny Nguyen, Easton Baseball)
Taking an extra base on Laureano isn’t a great idea, as the 25-year old Dominican has earned the nickname “Laser Ramón” by throwing out 17 runners in the past two seasons.
Sabermetrically, his arm is ranked as “ridiculous”, with multiple throws topping 100mph in 2019. Laureano was also fourth in the league in range factor for a center fielder with the aid of his Easton Professional Reserve RL22.
Laureano’s game spec features a Japanese tanned Premium Reserve USA steerhide shell and palm. It also shows some A’s pride with a cream colorway with accents of green, and a gold-outlined Screamin’ E Easton logo.
Easton developed the new and aptly named “L” pattern for Laureano, which will feature more curved fingers than their previous model (the F73), which will create more optimal depth and control when chasing down line drives in the gap.
Marwin Gonzalez | Wilson A2000 1799 w/Spin Control
(photo credit: Ryan Smith, Wilson Sporting Goods)
Wilson has revealed some of their recent upgrades in limited runs like their College World Series editions in 2019. Since those were individually numbered in small batches from 12 to 18 and could only be purchased in Omaha, it wasn’t exactly accessible to everyone, but glove nerds were talking about them as soon as they hit social media.
NEW FOR 2020: Marwin Gonzalez’s glove may look gorgeous at first glance, with a sky blue back, red stitch, and a navy palm. But this A2000 is packed with Wilson’s newest comfort and performance features. The handslot sports a new Pro Lux liner which is soft with a little bit of tack for maximum grip. Additionally, a small leather pocket called the Pro Comfort Sleeve has been installed, housing the wrist strap to reduce any pinching on the back of your hand. Finally, Wilson created a dimpled palm called Spin Control, which is a specially-tanned indented leather that increases friction at contact which reduces spin in the pocket. If the technology looks familiar, it is reminiscent of SSK Baseball’s Dimple Sensor which was a circular dot pattern in the palm which debuted in Japan in 1978. Wilson’s pattern is tighter and covers the entire palm, and during testing, resulted in 7% more friction over their traditional pro stock leather. These features are to be released on a few retail and limited edition models later in 2020, so be on the lookout.
Andrew McCutchen | Rawlings Heart of the Hide PRO27HF
(photo credit: Adam Hermann)
During his time with Nike and Rawlings, Cutch’s glove style has been fairly simple, opting for a base of black and sometimes gray with the flair coming from the lace color. With the Pirates, he had a black Nike Sha/Do Elite J OX1275 with yellow binding and lace, then a Rawlings Pro Preferred PROS303-6KB in a similar colorway. Entering his 12th season, the Phillies outfielder decided to pull out all the stops.
Adam Hermann of NBC Sports Philadelphia was fortunate enough to screen capture three new Rawlings pieces for Gold Glove winner Andrew McCutchen back in March. The red and white fastbacks are PRO601 patterns, and the royal blue is a PRO27HF. Hermann’s timely screen captures show the backs of all three, of which I liked the blue PRO27HF the best.
The “Cutch” embroidered PRO27HF has white binding, red lace, and white rolled welting to go along with a red palm, white stitching, and a red H-web. Gold palm stamping creates a composed piece that highlights the Gold Glove patch that he earned in 2012.
Jeff McNeil | Rawlings Pro Preferred NP5-2KBPRO
The Flying Squirrel made the All-Star roster as an outfielder in 2019, but will likely see increased time at the hot corner with the departure of Todd Frazier to Texas.
Despite logging only 154 innings at third base, his capability at the position (and any other one, frankly) would arguably make him the best third baseman in the NL East, and he’s preparing for the increased responsibility with a new Rawlings Pro Preferred PRONP5-2KBPRO.
McNeil’s glove has a touch of flash, and instead of a completely camel or black glove as in past years, he decided to combine the two. The glove base is black kip leather with royal blue lace and stitch, with a Trim 2 camel stripe flowing from the ring finger across the wrist. The 11.75” NP5 pattern will provide good depth with a single-hinge break across his middle and ring finger, and although the gold stamping provides no added performance capability whatsoever, it looks darn nice.
Pick up your 2020 McNeil PRONP5 here.
Josh Donaldson | Marucci CMOD
(picture credit: Eric Walbridge and Scott Carpenter, Marucci Sports)
Donaldson enters the Twin Cities as the 2019 NL Comeback Player of the Year after slugging 33 longballs and producing a 6.0 WAR last season. When the Bringer of Rain is healthy, he is a force of dingers and defense, and was a Gold Glove Award finalist last year at third base. Donaldson has a number of Marucci gloves in his arsenal this season, but keep your eyes peeled for this navy and red 11.75” “5” pattern.
Notice that this glove does not have any thumb or pinky loops. That is because the inside of this 11.75” Marucci Capitol Series is specifically tailored for Josh’s hand.
In 2018 Marucci Sports acquired Carpenter Trade, LLC, run by glove genius and master of synthetics Scott Carpenter, who hails from Cooperstown, NY. In the shadow of the Hall of Fame, Carpenter makes CMODs, which are custom ergonomic handslots that lock in the glove hand without being too tight. To achieve this, Carpenter took a casting of Donaldson’s digits and created a palm liner that matches the exact undulations and ridges of his hand.
The result is a “no slack” synthetic microfiber handslot that is lighter, wider, and more stable, which Donaldson regards as “a gamechanger for infielders.”
The vision by CEO Kurt Ainsworth was to align newly hired glove expert Eric Walbridge’s design capability with Carpenter’s technical aptitude to create state-of-the-art gamers that are equal parts performance and brand-defining aesthetic. They became available earlier this year, so check out the future of custom performance here.
Ozzie Albies | Wilson A2K OA1
(Picture credit: Ryan Smith, Wilson Sporting Goods)
Albies led the league in 2019 in games played as a second baseman, as well as putouts and double plays turned. With a .994 fielding percentage, Ozzie knows he needs a glove that gives him confidence as well as consistent performance. And for that, he teamed up with Wilson’s Global Project Manager and Senior Glove Designer Ryan Smith to design the A2K OA1.
Last year, Smith and Albies cooked up the January 2019 Glove of the Month limited edition 1786, an all red 11.5” A2K that was a favorite of glove and Braves fans alike. This season, Albies has made a few changes, resulting in a gameday glove all his own.
The OA1 is modeled after a DP15 spec in that it is an 11.5” with thinned heel padding, but this one will have a regular-sized handslot versus the DP15 with its narrower opening. Albies added a gap welt in between the index and middle finger, which allows the OA1 to be deeper while adding pocket stability. Although this is more common in a slightly longer glove like the 11.75” 1785 pattern, the Ozzie is going to be very popular with infielders for its size, depth, and control. Expect to see the OA1 released this year as the Albies Gameday model.
Tim Anderson | Marucci Capitol Series TA7
Tim Anderson left Wilson Sporting Goods in favor of Marucci Sports entering this season, but his style remains consistent to his previous model, the A2000 G4.
Just as the G4 is built on a 1786 chassis, the TA7 is built on Marucci’s “4” pattern, which offers a wide fielding area, more precurved fingers for added depth, and dual welting for stability and shape retention.
Tim’s gameday glove is both practical and innovative, and features premium Japanese-tanned kip leather throughout, a sheepskin finger lining with padded thumb and pinky loops, and a memory foam padding over top of a moisture-wicking wrist lining.
Anderson asked Marucci Vice President of Soft Goods and glove expert Eric Walbridge to have the the palm (not just the heel) thinned as much as possible for maximum feel in the palm.
The result is a one-of-a-kind glove for a one-of-a-kind player, but for the rest of us, we’ll have a chance to try out some of Marucci’s new patterns this fall.
Justin Turner | Easton Professional Collection Hybrid C43
(picture credit: Jonathan DeClaro, Easton Baseball)
Turner was a recent addition to the cadre of Easton pros, and made a wise decision to game the Professional Collection Hybrid 12” C43 pattern at third base for the Dodgers. The Hybrid series features a lightweight Japanese Reserve steerhide back and a Horween steerhide palm. Horween Co. produces some of the best leather in the world, and its chrome-tanned hides are sought after to make some of the most durable gloves on the market today.
The handslot is also made with Horween, with a palm liner that molds perfectly to your hand over time. Justin chose a stock glove mainly because he felt the spec was great without any modifications, but also because if players and fans wanted to emulate his gamer, it would be readily available here at Baseball Express and at Dick’s in Jose Ramirez’ colorway.
First Base Gloves
Christian Walker | Rawlings Pro Preferred PROSFM18KC
Though primarily a Rawlings PRODCT user, Walker downshifted in size to a 12.5” PROSFM18KC last season, with fantastic defensive results. I am not certain how awards will play out given a modified and reduced season, but if Christian Walker stays healthy, he’s going to be in the mix for a Gold Glove at first base. A finalist last year in his first full season, Walker led the league in assists and Total Zone Runs over the course of 1179 innings and ended with a .991 fielding percentage.
Walker’s “less is more” defensive strategy also pays off in his glove design. His top-of-the-line kip leather PROSFM18KC is a simple camel on camel with only a touch of black in the embroidery and gold on black patches. Pick it up here: https://gloves.custom.rawlings.com/design/ab8d06e8
Update: Christian sent through another piece he just picked up at Spring Training…
Sean Doolittle | Wilson A2000 XLC
(picture credit: Ryan Smith, Wilson Sporting Goods)
They say you can learn a lot about a ballplayer if you look at his or her glove. Well, the more we look at Sean Doolittle’s gloves, the more we like about the guy. In 2017 when he was with Rawlings, Doolittle designed a Boba Fett-inspired glove, showing of his Star Wars fanhood. Now with Wilson, one of his recent A2000s was an homage to one of his favorite bands, Phish. His most recent creation, a tribute to the Grateful Dead, is truly a showstopper.
The 12.5” XLC pattern is already a throwback, and harkens back to a time in the 80s when gloves were either tan or black. Doolittle reimagines the old pattern and turns it on its (Dead)head, with a red Pro Stock palm, web, and lace, neon green embroidery, and of course, the tie dye Super Skin back. Senior Glove Designer Ryan Smith said the technique they are using to create the groovy synthetic back is proprietary, but there is at least one retail offering in the works that will be coming to us in the fall. Until then, nothing left to do but smile, smile, smile.
Mitch Garver | Wilson A2000 1790 (modified)
The 2019 Silver Slugger winner for the Twins, Mitch Garver, is primed to benefit from a 60-game sprint: He hit 31 homeruns and compiled a 4.1 WAR in only 93 games last season. With a breakout season under his belt, Garv Sauce (his high school nickname) will don the tools of ignorance with a 34” A2000 1790. Last year’s A2000 was the same pattern in all black and red embroidery. This year’s model is kicked up a notch with a black snakeskin back, red binding, and gray lace, in addition to the new Wilson logo embroidery.
Which is your favorite glove? Please comment below. Comments with a valid e-mail automatically enters you into our best giveaway yet…
One lucky commenter will win the custom cleats of his or her choice by Mookie Betts’ custom artist, @ikb20_customs. Winner’s provided e-mail will be contacted after July 31. We can ship to US/Canada addresses only.