WPW Report: Top Glove Brands Worn by MLB Stars

what-pros-wear-mlb-glove-brandsThis 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.)

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Here’s 10 things for you to think about while you check these numbers:

Wilson ad from 1961.

Wilson ad from 1961.

  • 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.
Rawlings ad featuring Brooks Robinson from 1970.

Rawlings ad featuring Brooks Robinson from 1970.

  • 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.)
Source: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images North America

Jose Molina head to toe in All Star gear.  Source: Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images North America

  • 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.

mike trout glove

  • 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.
Ichiro's Custom Mizuno Modified Trap. Also notice the low profile crown of his hat, which is also custom.

Ichiro’s Custom Mizuno Modified Trap via @GeminiKeez

  • 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:

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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 Roster

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Chase Utley
Bryce Harper

Louisville Slugger

David Price
Billy Hamilton

Spalding

Robinson Cano
Wil Myers

SSK

Pablo Sandoval

Let us know what you think about the list on Twitter. And most importantly, what brand do you wear?

13 Responses

  1. Tom

    I like Harper as a player but he’s really starting to get annoying with the branding. He doesn’t seem to care about what he uses as long as it builds the Harper Empire. I think he uses every single small brand that gives players a share in the company ownership. Marrucci definitely does it to get players to endorse their stuff. I guess it is very smart. Better to get ownership in these companies than count on endorsements for years. You never know if he’s going to get injured. But, you’ll always make money as an owner if you can get the brand to break through.

  2. Domericlecian

    The decline of Spalding products in baseball is interesting, especially given A.G. Spalding’s notoriety in the early years of baseball, and the company’s pedigree as the first baseball equipment manufacturer.

    Spalding supplied official baseballs for the MLB and NL for 100 years. Their gloves were just as common. The company itself has suffered several restructurings and a decrease in quality of baseball gear after spreading their focus to basketball and golf, and reduced standards via outsourcing to save the bottom line.

    The tale of Spalding is a common fate of big companies that stop filling a need and start trying to make money.

    Rawlings claims their Gold Glove Award was started as a thank you after realizing in 1957 that they were the preferred glove of major league players. You can probably assume that what pros wear is what they’ve learned to be the higher quality brand. The further marketing directly to pros has helped advertise to consumers, giving the company more legitimacy and capital with which to advance.

    Spalding lost the position of official supplier of MLB baseballs to Rawlings in 1977, but they still enjoy NBA contracts.

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  4. Zane

    I think a main reason Nike dominates with the pitchers is because a lot of them aren’t actually wearing Nike gloves, let me explain:
    One of my brothers teammates older brothers is NIck Blackburn (currently a free agent.) He gave his little brother his old pitching glove, an all black NIke, or so I thought. Upon playing with it in the dugout I came to the quick realization that it wasn’t a NIke at all, it was a Pro Preferred, and he had had the Rawlings logos (the ones visible on tv) removed and replaced by the Swoosh in what was honestly what looked like a chop-job. Next time I saw him I talked to him abut it and he said a bunch of pitchers do that, because Nike offers them money to rep that logo on their glove, even if it isn’t a Nike glove, and the pitchers are what are focused on most by the cameras. Thought that was interesting, and also goes to show the lengths that some companies and players will go to make a few extra bucks.

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