This off-season we’re taking inventory. We’ve done enough research to make a pretty accurate assessment of brand popularity around the MLB, so we’re breaking down the most popular glove brands among the MLBs best (we did this with bats, too). We’ve done 79 player profiles so far, and in the chart above we tally every glove brand used by those players, broken down by position. There are a few interesting findings, and we’ll discuss below.
(Note: If you don’t think this is a good enough sample, consider that the most accurate US political polls typically sample 2000 people out of 300 million, or .0000067% of the general population. We’re sampling 79 players out of 750, or 10.5%. We’re not saying this chart should be treated as doctrine, but its likely accurate to within a few percentage points. And besides, this isn’t “What Backups Wear.” One other note, I didn’t feel we had a strong enough body of research for catchers, so Noah, our catching expert, helped us tally up a good set of backstops.)
Here’s 10 things for you to think about while you check these numbers:
- Rawlings and Wilson have been duking it out for 90 years. In a pair of recent posts, we showed that Rawlings dominated the Gold Glove awards. It is not surprising then that the top players in the game (those we’ve profiled) are wearing Rawlings more than any other glove. According to our profiles, Rawlings is worn by 31 guys out of 79, or 39.2% of those profiled.
- While Wilson is a distant second at 22 of 79 (27.8%), it should be mentioned that their roster of infielders (13) and outfielders (6) only trails Rawlings’ IFers and OFers by one glove each—14 and 7, respectively. Considering Manny Machado switched from Wilson to Rawlings this season, it is pretty much neck-and-neck at those positions.
- Rawlings is the top glove at every position. (Again, it is important to remember that this is just a sample, this is not the entire league. The total numbers could be slightly different—but probably not by much.)
- At catcher, Rawlings shares the lead with All-Star Sporting Goods, a company that specializes in top level catching equipment. Isn’t that amazing to think about? What other sport, and what other SPECIFIC POSITION does one company specialize in like All-Star with catchers. Possibly at goalie in hockey, but I don’t know enough about hockey equipment to know for sure. Nevertheless, that’s what makes baseball equipment interesting—that there are small companies making great products and competing at the highest level.
- Nike is worn only by pitchers and outfielders. Why? For pitchers, we know that Nike is a master marketer, and they pay top dollar to pepper that Swoosh logo into every pre-pitch extreme close-up that TBS beats us over the head with 250 times a game. And lets face it, a pitcher’s glove is more of a shield than anything. With that said, Nike’s outfielders are some of the best defenders in the game (CarGo, Trout, Kemp, McCutchen), so its pretty obvious that they’re making a Major League quality product out there.
- Marucci is a new entry into the leather market, but still managed to win over the most sought after player on WPW (by a landslide), Bryce Harper. With his influence and Marucci’s successful glove launch this season, we’ll likely be seeing more of them in the seasons to come.
- Spalding is a curious case, as they have two pros (Cano and Wil Myers) but I legitimately don’t remember ever seeing a Spalding being worn in a game I played in. Maybe I wasn’t paying close attention or its a regional thing, but in the Northeast I saw none.
- If we’re not counting pitchers in the final tally, Mizuno is the third most popular glove among profiled players with six. Of the pro gloves you can buy, the $500 dollar price tag on their “Pro Limited” is the richest. For that price, Mizuno will actually take the glove back for a one-time factory reconditioning whenever you choose.
- Slugger is the most popular bat among WPW players, but has a long way to go in the glove department with just two players (Billy Hamilton and David Price, a Nike convert).
- SSK = Panda (and Hiroki Kuroda, and Sergio Romo* who were not polled—thanks Fraser*)
Here are the players wearing each brand:
Rawlings (31 of 79, 39.2% of WPW players)Pitchers R.A. Dickey Tim Lincecum Johan Santana Tyler Skaggs Justin Verlander Zack Wheeler Catchers Yadi Buster Posey Matt Wieters Joe Mauer First Base Chris Davis Prince Fielder Paul Goldschmidt Albert Pujols Joey Votto Third Base Pedro Alvarez Josh Donaldson David Freese Manny Machado A-Rod Ryan Zimmerman Shortstop Derek Jeter Jose Reyes Tulo Outfield Yoenis Cespedes Jacoby Ellsbury Curtis Granderson Jason Heyward Adam Jones Giancarlo Stanton Justin Upton
Wilson (22 of 79, 27.8% of WPW players)Pitchers Jose Fernandez Clayton Kershaw Catchers Miguel Montero First Base Allen Craig (I counted Craig as a 1B though he also plays OF) Second Base Jason Kipnis Dustin Pedroia Brandon Phillips Jurickson Profar Third Base Miggy Evan Longoria Will Middlebrooks Hanley David Wright Shortstop Elvis Andrus Starlin Castro Jean Segura Outfield Jose Bautista Carlos Beltran Melky Josh Hamilton Yasiel Puig Josh Reddick
Nike (9 of 79, 11.4% of WPW players)Pitchers Yu Darvish Matt Harvey King Felix Mariano Rivera Stephen Strasburg Outfield Carlos Gonzalez Mike Trout Matt Kemp Andrew McCutchen
Mizuno (6 of 79, 7.6% of WPW players)Catchers Brian McCann Evan Gattis Third Base Brett Lawrie Shortstop Ian Desmond Jimmy Rollins Outfield Ichiro
All-Star (4 of 79, 5.1% of WPW players)Catchers Travis d’Arnaud Salvador Perez Chris Stewart Jarrod Saltalamacchia
Marucci, Louisville Slugger, Spalding (2 of 79, 2.5% of WPW players)
Marucci’s RosterChase Utley Bryce Harper
Louisville SluggerDavid Price Billy Hamilton
SpaldingRobinson Cano Wil Myers
Let us know what you think about the list on Twitter. And most importantly, what brand do you wear?