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Underrated Swag: Guys and Gear from 2018 that Deserve Another Look

By Charles Carr and Mike Carozza

With the Best of 2018 voting now live on Instagram, not all of our favorite gear could be squeezed into the 32 total finalists.  Picking the 8 best cleats/gloves etc. is like picking your favorite kid.  We feel it is our duty to shine some more light on those underrated dudes or items that stood out on the field.

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The new Nike Alpha Huarache Elite 2 cleats kicked up a lot of dirt in the 2018 playoffs, and it looks like Nike has another winner on their hands. Giancarlo Stanton, rocked these beauties during the Yankees’ Wildcard win, and it was difficult to leave this out of the top 8 cleats of the year. The 2017 NL MVP went with a navy blue base complimented by flashy gold accents on the cleat plate, eyelets and swoosh outline, finished out with gold “G’s” on the swoosh. With a year to settle into NYC, we can’t wait to see what Big G’s got for us in 2019.

Joc Pederson’s Huarache PE’s are what dreams are made of. The elephant print on the straps and toe jumps off the page, adding some flash to an absolute classic Dodger uniform.  Get your own pair (without elephant print, sadly) here.

Javy Baez’s Puerto Rico pattern adds easy swag to his Nike Alpha Huarache Elite PE cleats.  Easy swag is a rare quality that Javy has become known for.

We also dig the excessive wrist tape and the Oakley Radar EVs.  In the field, his variety of SSK models always turn heads.

(throwback to his 2017 gamer)

Head-to-toe sauce for a 2019 front-runner for NL MVP.  Hard to call that underrated, but Javy demands mention whenever the word “swag” is uttered.  Shop the Alpha Huarache Elite here.

Jordan 9s had a strong presence in 2018, most noticeably with World Series winner and MVP Mookie Betts. The 9s hold a special place in baseball swag history, since MJ himself (we profiled Jordan’s gear way back in 2013) wore the first-ever cleated versions of the 9 during his short-lived baseball career. While battling through an injury plagued season, it was easy for Dexter Fowler’s own pair to fall under the radar, but we couldn’t let these slip through without mention. Dexter’s use of yellow and navy accents just shows you his attention to detail. Paired with the classic Cardinals socks, that’s as good as Jumpman has ever looked on a baseball field.

He also managed to incorporate yellow accents in to his Rawlings H-Web this year. An absolutely gorgeous piece of leather that could not possibly be a better compliment to the Cards’ unis.

Scooter Gennett’s outstanding play in the last two seasons helped us realize that the guy fully subscribes to the Golden Rule of WPW.  “Look Good, Feel Good, Play Good.”  Scooter rocked these custom 9s inspired by his love for NASCAR and Dale Earnhardt, Jr. Customs, as opposed to player exclusives, add a level of personality that you don’t always see, so for that we appreciate you, Scoot.

More 9s. Gio Gonzalez’s black and red turfs are another underrated entry from this past season. The red patent leather pops. They look like something His Airness might have been wearing as he dunked on Greg Ostertag for the 5,000th time.  Jordan has moved on to selling cleated versions of the 13s, but you can still find 9s here, and you can try your luck on eBay.

Sneaky swaggy Eduardo Escobar went with cleated versions of Nike Air Max 90 Golf shoes. If you follow on-court footwear in the NBA, you might know that Thabo Sefolosha has been wearing the same iconic sneaker for a couple of seasons now. It’s presence on the diamond just points to how timeless the silhouette is.  We’ll be paying close attention to Eduardo Escobar now that he’s got the DBack’s “mint” color in his repertoire.  He might be a finalist next year for that very reason.  You can buy the golf version of the Air Max 90s here, and the standard version here.

Kike does not love you.  He loves gear.  Hernandez is a sparkplug for the Dodgers. His Adidas Dame 4 customs are sleek, simple, and sexy.  I cringe at the idea of infield dirt even touching these babies.  They’re available in this exact colorway on Eastbay right now.

Kike also had one of our favorite gloves of 2018. His Rawlings PRONP4 single post is a classic mix of black and camel, set off nicely by blue engraving.  Get Kike’s Rawlings PRONP4 glove at this link.

Staying with the Dame 4’s, Byron Buxton also rocked his own custom pair during spring batting practrice. Adidas athletes really took to this Damian Lillard silhouette, and it’s easy to tell why. They provide a perfect canvas for sharp colorways and look extremely comfortable.  You can find Dame 4’s here.

Adidas’ presence in the Majors has grown steadily over the past few seasons, and their Afterburner line is responsible for about half of that growth. These Afterburner 4 cleats worn by Josh Harrison should not and will not go unnoticed. Paired with the Pirates Stance Diamond Pro socks; Josh Harrison was looking like a hungry cheetah out there.

If you look like a jungle cat, you run like a jungle cat.  Scientific fact.  You can still buy the Adidas Afterburner 4 cleats here, and the newer model here.

The Boost Icon 4 cleats are another example of what Adidas has been doing right: design a great product and create sleek colorways that don’t try to do too much. These pair worn by Nomar Mazara keep it simple but go really well with the Rangers’ colors.  Shop the Boost Icon 4 cleats here.

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Andrelton Simmons is another Adidas athlete that does not nearly get the love he deserves. The guy is a cat at shortstop.  He keeps his look simple, and lets his play glow. Simmons wears Adidas Afterburner V cleats in both solid and dipped variations.

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Simmons has been one of the best defensive players in baseball since his debut in 2012.  His Mizuno Pro Limited GMP400JAX “3-deep” web is an absolute beauty, fit for a 4x Gold Glover.

He used various Adidas batting glove models this past season, but these Adizero 4.0 batting gloves look great with the Angels’ red unis.  Shop his glove here and his batting gloves here.

How can you call an MVP underrated?  A guy who was on the cover of SI when he was 16 can’t be underrated.  Generally, this is true, but Bryce does have one remaining underrated aspect of his game: his pants.

While most of the league still covers their cleats with their pants, Harper rocks the throwback elastic cuff at the ankle (with true stirrups, too). Not only is this the way a baseball player ought to wear his pants, its a savvy business decision. Bryce’s “BH34” personal brand covers every piece of gear he owns.  With the free marketing he gets from having his brand stamped on the heel, he’s leveraging his partnership with UA beyond just the cold hard cash that he receives.  This is 21st Century Superstar Athlete 101.  Shop Under Armour’s Bryce Harper collection here.

The 2018 AL Rookie of the Year Shohei Ohtani’s whole Asics set deserves another look.

A one-of-a-kind ballplayer deserves a one-of-a-kind look.  Sho’s Asics gear is exactly that. The cleats are nothing flashy, but definitely one of the more interesting silhouettes we saw this year. Asics sold SEVENTEEN total sets of Ohtani’s gear in June in Japan.  The cost was equivalent to $2,900 dollars.  They sold out on the first day.  Lets hope Ohtani’s cleats, glove, and batting gloves become more widely available.

His leather is a work of art. Asics is also the brand of choice for the Cubs’ Yu Darvish, and the look immediately stands out from the American brands. Red leather, black laces, white binding, and a myriad of creative accents makes for one of our favorites in the game today. It is a huge loss for baseball that we won’t be able to see this glove on the mound in 2019.

When the Diamondbacks switched to their current uni set a couple of seasons ago, the new look was polarizing, but WPW is wholly on-board with their mint-accented away uniforms. Paul Goldschmidt’s black and mint Nike Air Coop cleats were underrated in 2018. Unfortunately, the silhouette is exclusive to the pros.

2018 Silver Slugger David Peralta’s mint accented Franklin Pro Classics are showstoppers. The solid gray base set off with just the right amount of mint and scarlet.  One of our favorite sets of batting gloves we’ve ever seen.  Customize your own pair of Franklin Pro Classics here.

Another guy who favored the Nike Air Coop cleats, Carlos Gonzalez’s purple, white, and hot pink pair are crazy, just how Cargo likes it. The Rockies are one of the most exciting gear teams in the Bigs, and that started with Cargo (and Tulo). Gonzalez has been one of the most imaginative guys with his gear his entire time in the majors, and he trotted out another winner in 2018.

CarGo’s choice of hot pink with the purple outline is a stroke of genius. You don’t need to be too flashy to show you’ve got heat.  Unfortunately, this model, the Nike MVP Elite Pro is no longer for sale, but you can hunt eBay.

What about you?  What pieces do you think were underrated or didn’t get the attention they deserved this past season? We’d love to hear from you.

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