New cleats and colorways are trickling in. These five stood out and might be worth a look if you’re ready to buy some freshies. Before we get to the models, here are the five most important things to think about when buying a cleat from our 2020 guide:
1. YOUR STYLE OF PLAY
Different positions require different gear. Pete Alonso hitting nukes and manning first has different needs than Ronald Acuna flying around the outfield and swiping bags.
Some guys tend to prefer a more stable base, even at the expense of some extra weight. Typically, bigger-bodied power hitters lean towards more supportive spikes despite a slight weight increase.
2. THE FEEL YOU LIKE
Cleats are something you shouldn’t be thinking about. If your cleats are comfortable and fit well, they should never be on your mind. A large factor in this is the overall feel of the cleat. Metal vs molded is a perpetual WPW debate with good ballplayers on either side of the fence.
Metal spiked cleats provide more grip and traction at the expense of comfort, but that’s not nearly as big of an issue as it used to be.
Molded spikes are known for their comfort. There are less pressure points caused by the metal spikes. They do not dig in to hard dirt fields like metal spikes do, but some see the comfort as more important.
3. THE FIELDS YOU PLAY ON
Some fields you play on are going to be pristine and others are going to be a minefield. If you spend most of your time playing on perfectly manicured fields, well, aren’t you special. Most of us are playing on much less, and that matters when choosing a cleat. Metal cleats are your best bet for digging into harder ground on sub-optimal fields.
Well maintained, and especially turf, fields typically require less aggressive spikes and you might be able to enhance your comfort-level with a molded cleat.
Outfielder’s (Editor’s) Note: I can’t recommend molded cleats for outfielders on anything but TURF. Too much at risk, namely, LOOKIN’ LIKE A DAMN FOOL on wet grass. Slip-and-fall’s are never a good look, and it’ll be the play everyone remembers, win or lose. Wear metals and catch the ball.
There is no way around it–cleats will get abused. For guys playing a lot of games, it’s a new pair every year. Spikes get worn down, liners get torn up, and laces begin to break. This is natural and it’s only a matter of time.
Durability of cleats, like gloves, depends largely on the position you play. Catchers wreck their cleats while pitchers will excessively drag against the toe of their drive leg. With that being said, cleats made of durable, synthetic leather type materials tend to last longer. Mesh cleats often breathe better but the synthetic models will likely stand up better to the wear and tear.
Pitchers’ cleats pose a unique challenge when it comes to durability. While the cleats as a whole take less abuse, their drive foot is often shredded. The toe of a pitchers drive leg is always a challenge for manufacturers. Full synthetic leather cleats can help but will still show wear. Luckily, Tuff Toe Pro has created a product that can be applied to the toe of any cleat that will help the longevity of your spikes on the mound.
5. THE BOTTOM LINE $$$
While cleats are not the most expensive piece of gear, it is probably the one you will have to replace most often. Gloves and bats tend to to have a longer life than your spikes will, so most will look for VALUE.
2021 MLB Baseball Cleats
Barring any new drops, these are the cleats that you can expect to see most on MLB players in 2021. (Trout 7s are trickling out, but not the premium versions, so they’re not listed here.)
New Balance added their cloud-like Fresh Foam to the 3000s, making these their latest in a long line of ridiculously comfy cleats. The above colorway is $120 at Dick’s, but they have team colorways for $100 and NewBalance.com has turfs for $85. A word of caution: there have been a couple of negative reviews about the durability of the foam, and I know from Fresh Foam shoes that the material is soft.
Bryce Harper has evolved a very clean, modern aesthetic to his signatures and while it might not be the loudest, their subtle swag makes the Harper line some of my favorites every season. The all-whites are always dangerous for players without a shoe deal, but the above colorway, black-on-black with gold accents, looks like it will age well. Don’t sleep on the hybrid plate (front metal, back molded) if you play 80+ games a year. Look like a professional with these $120 Harper 5s from Dick’s Sporting Goods.
Fernando Tatis‘ choice, the Afterburner 7 is a striking cleat, though the colorways are a disappointment compared to Tatis’ heaters.
These cleats are also worn by speed freak Trea Turner, who once let me raid his closet. The Afterburner 7 are available in a low-cut at Dick’s from $30 for kids to $120 for metals and more colorways are available at adidas.com.
Any Jordan release is notable, and it looks like the 2021 Jordan baseball cleat will be the 10. Eastbay is offering them for $95-$100 (molded) and $120 for metal. These will be a popular palette for customizers of course, and expect to see these all swagged out on Manny Machado and Dexter Fowler.
Whereas the Afterburner colorways were a let-down, the new colorways for this MLB favorite, the Alpha Huarache Elite 3, are pure excellence. Amazingly, the Huaraches are the lowest-priced cleat on this list at $85-$95 at Dick’s Sporting Goods.
And if it wasn’t enough that the most popular *new* cleat in the MLB is also the most affordable, you can customize them now, complete with a flag inside the tongue ($120-$125 + $25 for a pitching toe). I’m not a Nike sheep like 99.7% of my timeline, in fact I like to be different, but these would be my choice for 2021.
For those looking for better value, there are plenty of good options under $60 at BaseballExpress.com.