By Ben Masi
The season is fast approaching. With that, players are starting to think about gear. At WPW, we want to give some insight into some of our favorites and some of the gear most popular with the pros we cover.
When looking at gloves, there are four major factors to consider.
- The position that you play.
- The style that you like.
- Your budget.
- How long you’d like it to last.
Lets dive a little deeper into these four factors to help you get closer to the right glove for you.
1. THE POSITION YOU PLAY.
No matter the position, the most important thing is to catch the ball; however, if you play second base, shortstop, or third base, an important concept to consider is your transfer from glove to hand.
An infield glove should allow you to get the ball out of your glove and into your hand for a quick and accurate throw. All baseball players and spectators have seen an infielder make a bad throw or altogether drop a ball due to a bad transfer. The bigger the glove, the more surface area for the ball to get lost in there. So you should be looking for a glove big enough to (a) secure the ball and (b) get it to your hand as quickly as possible.
For most infielders in the MLB, this is a glove between 11.25″ and 12″. Smaller hands will be better off with a smaller glove (11 inches still works), and third base aka the “Hot Corner” may require a larger glove due to lower reaction time. Anthony Rendon wears an 11.5 PRODJ2 available at Rawlings.com for $360.
At first base, narrow your search to first base mitts, which are usually 12″-13″ like Matt Olson’s PROSDCT available at Rawlings for $460.
In the outfield, most MLB players wear a glove that is 12.5″ to 13″. Some go even longer (even though they’re not technically allowed). Cody Bellinger wears a 13″ PRO303 available at Rawlings.com for $360.
A catchers mitt is measured differently than the other positions on the diamond. They are measured in circumference as opposed to heel to the top of the fingers. Catchers at the pro level tend to use mitts ranging in size from 32.5″ up to 35″. Gary Sanchez uses the smaller end of the spectrum with a 32.5″ Rawlings Heart of the Hide PROGS24-JB, available from Rawlings.com for $360.
On the mound, pitchers gloves typically range in size from 11.75″ to 12.25″ with a few exceptions here and there. Stroman’s piece is as flashy, and as custom, as it gets but Rawlings sells the closest alternative for $360 on Rawlings.com.
2. THE STYLE THAT YOU LIKE.
When we talk about style, we don’t mean just “swag.” When a player takes the field, he needs to have a level of trust in his glove. This often comes from the shape of the glove and varies most among infielders and outfielders.
There are two main schools of thought: 1) a deeper, more defined pocket or 2) a shallower pocket to ensure a lightning fast transfer. This is very much a personal feel and preference thing.
Typically, outfielders just want a deep, secure pocket. While there is personal preference with outfielders like any other position, the key is catching the ball. The ball needs to stick through diving catches and home run robberies.
Adam Jones uses one of the most popular outfield patterns at the professional level. The Rawlings PRO303-6SLM Jones uses marries a classic pattern with a lightweight, mesh back. The PRO303 pattern features a deep pocket with long sturdy fingers and is available in Adam Jones’ spec at Rawlings.com for $360.
3. YOUR BUDGET.
Sadly, we can not all be Big Leaguers and price is a very important thing to consider when buying a new glove. High quality gloves typically start at $200-$250 and can range all the way up to $600.
$250 AND UNDER
We get it, gloves can be pricey, but a smaller budget doesn’t mean you have to settle for a lesser glove. The best way to get bang for your buck is to shop sales, often on last years glove line through places like BaseballExpress.com or the Rawlings.com clearance page.
Rawlings.com is offering a gorgeous PRONP5PRO Heart of the Hide for $60 off with free shipping. This is perfect for a shortstop or third baseman looking to cop a pro-level glove for $200.
Typically, you can expect a high-end glove to run between $250-$400. That is the sweet spot that most companies tend to live in. All the big names offer some great leather at this price point. The Wilson A2000 or A2K, Rawlings Pro Preferred or Heart of the Hide, Mizuno Pro, and Marucci Capitol Series all fall within these boundaries.
There are endless options in this price range but SSK is a more unique option. Javy Baez’s Ikigai All Star Game glove is one of many eye-popping gloves from the up-and-coming company. SSK’s top of the line model. A similar Ikigai named for Baez is available at BaseballExpress.com.
$450 AND UP
For some, price is no object and a select few companies capitalize on that. Various custom, and even stock, options climb to over the $450 price point. Whether it be due to a full custom experience or top tier craftsmanship, these are the elite gloves on the market. The Mizuno Pro Limited at $600, custom Wilson A2K at $550, or custom Rawlings Pro Preferred at $460 are some of the main options at the top of the food chain.
One of the few stock models to push past the $450 price point is the Rawlings Gold Glove line coming in at $500. Featuring European leather with an ultra-premium palm liner and 100% wool wrist liner, the Rawlings Gold Glove is the “culmination of 130 years of Rawlings’ glove-making craftsmanship”.
4. HOW LONG YOU’D LIKE IT TO LAST.
No matter what glove you end up going to battle with, the only thing that can ensure longevity is taking care of your gear. Higher quality gloves tend to be made out of premium materials and with more precise craftsmanship, which lends itself to a longer life. But factors like season length, position you play, and even climate can play a roll in how a glove ages.
The king of the hill for glove life comes at a price. The Mizuno Pro Limited glove line is the undisputed king. At $600, it is certainly not for everyone but it does offer a reconditioning program “in which (Mizuno) will repair and recondition your glove once during its lifetime to restore it to its original glory”.
Wilson’s top grade leather and their standard dual welting combine to make a glove that lasts. With stock models starting at $260 from Wilson.com, an A2000 is a classic choice when looking for a glove that will give you season after season. You can even pick up Vlad Jr.’s custom piece for $360.
No matter what, you have to take care of your glove. The more games you play and the drier the climate can wear down a glove faster. Using a light coat of glove conditioner periodically can increase the life of your favorite glove. Different positions wear differently. Catchers and infielders should expect more wear and should take some preventative care measures. Outfielders tend to get more life due to playing on grass and not making tag plays. Pitchers can expect the longest life from their glove as they take the least amount of abuse.
The bottom line: today’s ballplayer has lots of great options when it comes to their glove. Both established juggernauts and relative newcomers are constantly innovating in an attempt to win your business. As in most industries, the big benefactor of all the competition is you, the buyer!