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Protective Batting Gloves: When Will MLB Teams Protect Their Assets?

A few weeks back, I was watching an Angels game.  David Freese stepped up to the plate, fully healthy, strong, and ready to help his team contend in a tight division race.  Mike Pelfrey let a hard two-seamer get away from him.  Ninety-five miles per hour boring in on the right index finger of David Freese, and four-tenths of a second to react.  Freese got drilled, broke his finger, and he’s been out a month, still barely able to throw a baseball while the rest of his body is perfectly able and his team is fighting for its life.

This isn’t unusual and its certainly no surprise.  It happens every single year to the best players in the game.  Big name players, who are paid stupid money and work their tails off every day to stay on the field, suffer significant hand/finger injuries due to hit-by-pitches.  The human hand is simply not built to withstand that type of impact, and its often devastating to the player’s (and team’s) season.

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Some recent examples:

  • Paul Goldschmidt missed two months last year.
  • AJ Pollock missed three months last year
  • Hunter Pence missed two months this year.
  • Alex Rios missed a month and a half this year.
  • Travis d’Arnaud missed two months this year.
  • Jayson Werth missed two months this year.
  • George Springer has been out a month and a half SO FAR.
  • Stephen Souza
  • Maikel Franco

And its not just missed time.  Some guys try to fight through it:

  • Last year, Nelson Cruz (with the O’s) had an OPS of 1.057 when he got hit on the hand on June 1; over the next 3 months, his OPS was .688.
  • This year, Stephen Vogt was hitting .304 when he got hit on the wrist on June 26th; since then he’s hitting .188.
  • Michael Cuddyer, hit on the hand on April 14, is slugging 90 points lower than his career average in 2015.

Owners are handing out million-dollar contracts to ball boys, and then they put their stars right next to the target of a 95 mph flying object without any consideration for their second most precious asset (after their head/brain)—their hands.  Ask any ballplayer what their batting average is with a broken hand, wrist, or finger.  How about how hard they throw?

This recurring theme really bothers me so much because ITS PREVENTABLE.

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evoshield-protective-batting-gloves

Evoshield’s got options.

xprotex-raykr-batting-glove

The Raykr by XProtex is one of a few options by that company that offers varying degrees of protection.  Franklin (see below) has methods of protecting the hands, too.

shock-doctor-hand-guard

Shock Doctor offers a strap-on hand guard.

I’m not saying these items would prevent all injuries, and I think there is plenty of room for improvement to be made, but I guarantee less pros would be hitting the DL if everybody were wearing protective gear like this.

So why not?

Joe Maddon pointed to the cliché—stubborn ballplayers—when asked about protective batting gloves all the way back in 2010, “Most of the time, changes like that move at a glacier pace.  Guys don’t want to be the first one to try it,” he told the NY Daily News.

Well, what if you didn’t give them a choice?  Force it on them.  What are the objections?  That it will hurt your performance?

paul-goldschmidt-franklin-batting-gloves-evoshield-inserts-2

Paul Goldschmidt wears Evoshield slips in his Franklin batting gloves now.  He’s arguably the best hitter in baseball.

aj-pollock-hand-guard

aj-pollock-under-armour-batting-gloves-armor

AJ Pollock has a steel plate and modified batting gloves to protect his hands.  He’s an All-Star.

Yunel Escobar got hit and now wears the Shock Doctor hand guard.  He’s projected to finish with 170 hits in 2015, which would be a career best.

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Hunter Pence wears wrist protection now.  He’s still really good.

Why not go the prevention route instead of waiting for guys to lose a half-season’s worth of production?  You can bet that if its mandated, companies will work to create the best possible solution for MLB players, to their exact specifications.

Its time that MLB teams mandate the use of protective batting gloves.

I’m not saying its going to stop these injuries entirely, but isn’t it time that MLB teams use the technology available to keep their players on the field?

6 Responses

  1. Joey

    Yeah I have been hit in the hand this year and was lucky enough to have a ten day recovery during a rain storm throughout the area. I had Evoshield batting gloves, the work. The only problem was the size, they kinda run large so I got blisters and have switched to the UA motives and am now wearing the Nike pro series. MVP elite Vapor Pro 3.0. I also broke my thumb on my right hand two years ago when fielding! They Teams should implement a policy where batting gloves have to be padded!

  2. SP

    I think its a worth while investment for players to protect themselves, but with any protective gear its comes down to being comfortable. I’m sure the guys on this site know that more than anyone, with guys constantly looking for the latest and greatest that gives them an edge or make them more comfortable. I don’t think you can mandate hitters to wear protective gear and not demand the same for pitchers. Pitching rules the baseball world now if you are going to demand one side to change it has to happen all the way around. Pitchers should have to wear concussion rated caps and or masks too. otherwise get ready for the no hitter rate to continue to rise. I haven’t tried any of the protection gloves but I’ve also never been hit in the hand while batting. Prob because I’m a switch hitter (don’t tell my wife lol). So i have never felt the need I’m assuming that a guy who has never “worn one” in the hand feels the same way until it happens and spurns the need to protect themselves.

    1. appreciate the comment SP! I hear what you’re saying completely. I think its time for both, absolutely. I think you and I don’t need to worry about the hand problem because we’re not seeing 90+ with 8 inches of movement. Its just a pro problem in my opinion.

  3. Jeremy

    Where can we get the evoshield hand guard that some guys are wearing now… I think I saw Kevin Pillar with it last. I know David Freese wears one… Any thoughts?

  4. Sam

    Maybe they should mandate the shock doctor or whatever Goldy is slipping into his gloves but there is no need to mandate a special brand of batting gloves that players wear to protect their hands.

  5. David

    I had a ball hit me and tore the tip of my right index finger. Fortunately it was no completely torn off and it was surgically reattached. I definitely will be wearing extra protection next season. Thanks forthe great info here!

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