Since 2017 we’ve been tracking the cleats worn by all MLB starters, and the 2019 results are in. This SidelineSwap sponsored report (like the bat and glove reports) focuses entirely on the starting position players (important to note that this excludes pitchers) noted on Baseball-Reference.com’s 2019 team pages with a few additions. We focus on starters because they play the most, and the efficiency of the research is greatly improved by focusing on the most consistently active players. 2019 followed trends that first appeared in 2018. Lets take a look at the cleat brands and models that were most popular among baseball’s best.
The undisputed king, worn by 43% of MLB starters (including Anthony Rizzo, above), is Nike… again.
Since 2017, Nike has picked up 5 percentage points, distancing themselves from the competition even further.
What Cleats Do You Wear?
I’m very interested to know what you wear on the field. If you’re wondering what the WPW guy wears, I favored the UA Yard this year, available for $65 at Baseball Express.
What Cleats Do the Pros Wear?
2018 Cleat Usage
In 2018, the numbers looked very similar to 2019. While Under Armour and New Balance dipped in 2018, losing six and three points of market share, respectively, Adidas continued to surge. Adidas gained 7% market share, blowing past Under Armour and supplanting New Balance as the second most worn cleat among MLB starters.
2019 Cleat Usage
The top four are really the major players, taking care of 96% of the league’s starters. Their positions remain unchanged from last year, starting with Nike at 43% (+2% from 2018), then Adidas at 22% (+1%), New Balance at 19% (+1%), and Under Armour at 12% (-2%).
Nike | 43% of Cleats Worn by MLB Starters (+2% from 2018)
Nike’s top cleat was the league’s top cleat, the Alpha Huarache Elite 2, worn by so many of the best in baseball. It was one of the best PE cleats that I can remember, with so much personality in each design.
Here’s a few stars who wore the Alpha Huarache Elite 2 (available at Nike.com):
- Trevor Story (above, two up)
- Nolan Arenado
- Anthony Rizzo
- Pete Alonso
- Adam Jones
- Nelson Cruz
- Joc Pederson (above)
Nike also had a few select players in their Vapor Ultrafly 2, available at Nike.com. Here’s a few guys who wore those:
Adidas | 22% of Cleats Worn by MLB Starters (+1%)
Adidas shot up the rankings in 2018, becoming the second most popular cleat among MLB starters.
The Three Stripes stayed in the two-spot in 2019, and picked up a percentage point to reach a new high of 22% of MLB starters. The Icon V, the Icon V Bounce, and the Afterburner VI were all popular choices. Shop ’em all at Baseball Express. Here’s a few stars who wore adidas and the model they chose:
- Kris Bryant (above, two up) | Icon V
- Carlos Correa | Afterburner VI
- Edwin Encarnacion | Icon V Bounce
- Ketel Marte | Afterburner VI
- Xander Bogaerts | Afterburner V
- Alex Bregman | Afterburner VI
- Aaron Judge (above) | Icon V Bounce
New Balance | 19% of Cleats Worn by MLB Starters (+1%)
New Balance checks in with the third most cleats worn by MLB starters at 19%, a 1% improvement from 2018.
NB gets top scores for comfort and their most popular choices in 2019 were the 4040v4 and 4040v5, along with the 3000v4, and Francisco Lindor’s signature Cypher 12. You can shop them all at Baseball Express. Here’s some of NB’s stars:
- Jose Altuve (above, two up) | 4040v4, 4040v5
- Ronald Acuna | 4040v5, 3000v4
- DJ LeMahieu | 4040v4
- Francisco Lindor (above) | Cypher 12
Under Armour | 12% of Cleats Worn by MLB Starters
With the rise of New Balance and more recently adidas, Under Armour has lost a significant portion of their MLB starters over the past three seasons. Worn by 20% of the league’s starters in 2017, UA now supplies 12% of the league’s starters, good for fourth in the league.
Regardless of the dip in usage, UA put out a quality product in 2019, and their Yard cleats (available for $65 at Baseball Express) were most popular among UA’s MLB starters, including some of the game’s most exciting young players. The Harper line of cleats was worn by some young stars, too. Here’s some of UA’s best:
- Fernando Tatis, Jr. (above, two photos up) | Yard, Harper 3
- Justin Verlander | Yard
- Yordan Alvarez | Yard, Harper 3
- Bryce Harper | Harper 3 & 4
- Dee Gordon | Yard
- Vladimir Guerrero, Jr. (above) | Yard
- Juan Soto | Yard
- Austin Meadows | Harper 3
The remaining brands were as follows:
Lifetime Achievement Award | CC Sabathia / Jordan
While Nike-owned Jordan brand has just 2% of MLB, they have some of the best, including CC Sabathia, a cleat legend who will be sorely missed.
CC has worn Jordan since his incredible but short-lived stint with the Milwaukee Brewers in 2008. Since then, he’s consistently been the hypebeasts’ favorite baseball player, rocking the rarest Jordan cleats ever made. Here’s a look back at some of our favorites, starting in 2008:
These are the turfs from his Brewers stint, in which CC started 17 games for the Brew Crew and finished seven of them. That was best in the NL even though he was still in the American League in July. The only National League pitcher to throw more complete games since that time? The late great Roy Halladay (2010-9, 2011-8). CC started wearing these Jordan 5s late in the season.
In 2009, CC opened up the new Yankee Stadium with the Jordan 5, as you can see in the photo above.
Also in 2009, the 4s…
…and the 11 Concords…
…and the 9s. CC basically had the entire history of the Jordan collection in player exclusive colorways in 2009.
In 2010, CC wore the Space Jam 11s…
… also in 2010, CC loves him some 11s, including these “Cool Greys.”
Jordan celebrated CC’s 200th win with these special edition 11s in 2013.
In 2013, CC and Mache teamed up to knock these Jackie Robinson Six Rings out of the park…
…and again in 2016 with the 6s…
…and again in 2017 with the Jordan 4 silhouette.
We’ll miss you out there, CC.
What do you think about the 2019 cleat report? Please comment below.