Typically a position known for the bat, a great defensive first baseman can elevate the play of every infielder on the team. They may not get all the credit, but a good first baseman who can pick a low throw, stretch for a wide one, and snare a would-be double down the line can win you ballgames. Obviously, a first baseman has very unique needs when it comes to a glove (mitt). Above all, catch the ball! First basemen don’t necessarily need quick transfers like other infielders (don’t tell that to Dom Smith) or the combination of length and range that is needed in the outfield. First basemen need to vacuum up anything thrown or hit their way, simple as that. This post, like our post for outfielders, second basemen, shortstops, and third basemen, will take a look at the best patterns used by some of the game’s top first basemen.
Rawlings PROSAR44 | $250, Rawlings.com
Anthony Rizzo has been one of the best defensive first basemen over the last couple of years. So impressive, in fact, Rizzo is the only first baseman ever to win the Platinum Glove, the award for the best fielder in the league at any position!
Rizzo’s Rawlings PROSAR44 is 12.75″, on the larger side for first base. The glove features a two-bar web that will stretch to create a massive pocket. The AR44 pattern is also extremely wide, giving you every chance possible to snag that nasty short hop.
For fans of steerhide (Heart of the Hide) over kip (Pro Preferred) leather, Dick’s Sporting Goods has this eye-catching Heart of the Hide PROAR44 for $280. Its Rizzo’s exact pattern, while the grey and tan color combo is definitely going to stand out, if you’re into that kind of thing. If you’re wondering what the difference is between steerhide and kip, here’s a video that helped us understand (skip to 0:48):
The Wilson 2800 pattern takes a slightly different approach to playing first base. Coming in at a very small 12″, this pattern is for first basemen who like feel and control.
Dominic Smith was kind enough to show our founding editor Mike his arsenal of leather during Spring Training. While some first basemen want a massive glove that will swallow the ball, Smith talks about how using the smaller glove forces him to use his hands more and not “cheat” by simply relying on the bigger glove.
Smith’s 2020 game glove at first base was a simple compliment to the Mets uniforms, an entirely blue A2K 2800. We were able to replicate Smith’s gamer for $550 on the Wilson Customizer.
A very similar option that doesn’t require a second mortgage is the black and red Superskin A2000 2820 from Baseball Express for $207. It adds an extra quarter inch (12.25″) to Dom Smith’s 2800, giving you a little more leather in case a low throw catches the lip of the grass and skips more than expected.
Wilson JAB79 | $380, Wilson.com
Wilson created the JAB79 in conjunction with recently crowned AL MVP Jose Abreu. A single post web and 12.5″ length create a deep pocket with extra reach to pick everything. His game model also features SuperSnakeSkin, Wilson’s lightweight synthetic material with the new and very popular snakeskin pattern.
Abreu likes to literally draw on his glove (maybe his kids?) but the classic black and blonde go well with anything. For 2020, Abreu also incorporated Wilson’s new SpinControl palm which aims to reduce the spin of the ball as it hits the palm. Classic colors and innovative materials make the MVP’s first base mitt a winner.
Wilson made Abreu’s gamer part of their 2021 glove line.
His super clean A2K JAB79 is available with the SuperSnakeSkin and the Spin Control tech for $380 on the Wilson website.
The Rawlings PROFM18 is a less common pattern at first base, but has its benefits. The most common configuration of a PROFM18 features a modified Pro-H web which will create a deep, and defined pocket like many outfield gloves featuring a similar web. This pattern is one of the most popular sizes for first base at 12.5″ inches.
Evan White, the former Kentucky Wildcat, is part of a young, but scary talented Seattle Mariners squad. He was one of a few Mariners to take home individual hardware in 2020: AL Gold Glove honors at first base.
Plays like this led to seven defensive runs saved at first base in 2020 in just 54 games.
White’s gamer is a clean all camel with black embroidery. His model, the Rawlings Pro Preferred PROSFM18KCPRO, features the H-Web. We replicated White’s gamer on the Rawlings customizer for $480.
A more affordable option is the above pictured Heart of the Hide PRORFM18-17B. This model is from Rawlings new R2G series, meaning it receives 25% more break in from the factory and has a reengineered heel pad to make break-in easier. This model has many of the same benefits as other Heart of the Hide gloves but does not require the break-in time. It is available for $280 from Dick’s Sporting Goods.
At first base, the ultimate priority is to catch the ball, no matter how bad the throw, or how hard the groundball is hit. While not as glamorous as the other positions on the infield, a quality first baseman can make a good infield great. One of the aforementioned first base mitts are a good bet if you want to be that guy. Any we missed? Let us know your go-to glove pattern at first down below!