The seemingly simple task of buying a glove can quickly become overwhelming. If you’re new to the game of baseball, you’ll quickly find that there is a specialized glove for every position, every player, and, some companies may try to convince you, every type of weather.
In this article, we’ll identify the basics that you need to know, then look at the best baseball gloves.
The best baseball gloves change based on need and position. An outfielder needs a larger glove than an infielder. A pitcher needs the most basic glove as he isn’t doing much fielding.
First, we’ll start with the basics; what makes a glove? There are four key things to look at when considering a glove. The pocket is the part of the glove where the ball is intended to be caught. It is, essentially, the space between the thumb and first finger. The pocket has webbing that can be made in a variety of styles. Next, you must consider how much padding you need. There is, currently, an increase in the amount of padding being used. Finally, you must consider the material that is used in making the glove. The pocket and webbing of your glove are, essentially, one in the same. The only two things to consider in the pocket are the size and design. To measure the pocket of a glove, you must run a tape measure from the top of the first finger, down the glove, and to the edge of the glove at the wrist. The length you measure is the “length of the glove”. Typically, most gloves range from 8 inches (for young middle infielders) to 13 inches for older players. A catcher’s mitt is not measured in the same way that other gloves are and will be discussed later.
The web used to create the pocket comes in a number of styles. A closed web is the type of webbing used on catcher’s mitts. This offers high durability and strength, but some flexibility when handling 70+ mph pitches. There are six different open style webs. All of which use overlapping leather or tied leather strips to offer a different combination of flexibility, durability, and strength. Finally, there is a two-piece closed web, which offers the strength of a catcher’s mitt with the flexibility of a more open glove.
Open webs can be hard to explain. It may be best to do a Google search so that you can get a visual, but we’ll try explaining them here.
A single-post web has two pieces of leather horizontally and one piece of leather vertically crossing each other.
A dual-post web is the opposite. It has two pieces of leather vertically and one piece of leather horizontally crossing each other.
A trapeze web has one leather strap in the center of the web with string tying it to the outer sides of the web.
A two-piece closed web offers two solid pieces that are attached to each other. It offers slightly more flexibility than a fully closed web.
A basket web has one piece of leather horizontally intersecting with one vertical piece of leather.
Finally, an I-web offers a webbing that looks like a capital I, two pieces of leather intersect horizontally with each end of a vertical piece of leather.
I realize that the previous paragraph was a bit rough to follow, but I appreciate you trying to work through it.
In summary, closed webs offer the best durability. Single and Double post webs would be next. Trapeze webs are the most likely to break as the string can easily be separated.
Padding and wrist adjustments are pretty self-explanatory. Today’s gloves are increasing padding in an attempt to assist the player. More padding simply means there is less sting when catching a ball.
The wrist strap is entirely created to help tighten or loosen a glove. This allows for one glove to fit a 10 year-old or a 35 year-old Major League veteran.
Our final consideration is the material of your glove. This is most significant in considering what the glove is for. Is your glove going to be use for a year, maybe two, then discarded because your son or daughter will grow out of it, or are you looking for a glove that is going to last for years to come? The standard in glove making is using leather, which can be made from deer or cow skin. Leather offers a great mix of affordability and durability. You can purchase a “high-end” glove that is made from kangaroo skin. Nokona (one brand we’ll discuss later) also produces bull skin gloves. It is said that bull skin is more durable, which means it will last longer. Finally, you can purchase a glove made from pig skin. Pig skin is less durable but offers more flexibility. As such, it is commonly used to make youth gloves so that it is easier for a child to break the glove in.
Best Baseball Gloves by Position
The style of glove that you need varies significantly based on the position being played. The catcher’s mitt is the most unique. The only difference between the glove for a second baseman and an outfielder is the length of the glove. Let’s look at the gloves by position.
A pitcher’s glove is rather boring. The pocket is typically a little larger so that the pitcher is able to manipulate the ball without the batter seeing exactly what is happening. The material for a pitcher’s glove is often lighter to ensure comfort for the pitcher. It doesn’t offer much padding because, typically, a pitcher isn’t fielding the ball very often. The goal for a pitcher is comfort more so than functionality, so I prefer the X2, but both are great gloves.
Best Pitcher’s Gloves
A catcher’s mitt seems to be its own brand of glove. The mitt a catcher wears actually even has its own measurement. Because the mitt doesn’t have any fingers, you can’t measure from the base to the top of your first finger. As such, the measurement for a catcher’s mitt is the circumference of the mitt itself. Most catchers’ mitt’s are between 29.5 and 34.5 inches in circumference. The most important part of a catcher’s mitt is padding. This mitt is designed to handle pitches thrown in a straight line at, up to, 99 mph for nine innings. That’s a lot of wear on the glove and your hand. I’ve seen gloves with as much as a fully inch of padding. The catcher’s mitt has a closed web to offer more support when catching the ball.
Best Catcher’s Mitts
First baseman’s mitt
A First baseman’s mitt is the most similar to a catcher’s mitt. The purpose of a first baseman wearing a mitt rather than a normal glove is for scooping bad throws out of the dirt. Like a catcher’s mitt, the first baseman’s mitt doesn’t have any fingers. There is, however, significantly less padding. This mitt uses the typical measurement style, and is often 11.5 to 13 inches long.
Best First Baseman’s Mitts
Most infielders have a similar style glove. They’re between 10 and 12 inches long. Middle infielders want a very shallow pocket in order to be able to transfer the ball from their glove to their bare hand as possible. This makes turning a double play easier. Typically, a shortstop has a deeper pocket and longer glove because of handling line drives. The bigger glove allows for players to reach a bit further when diving or jumping.
Best Infielder’s Gloves
An outfielder will typically have a much larger glove. This is designed to offer more support when handling long fly balls. It also offers a bit of extra reach when trying to dive or reach over the wall. An outfielder’s glove is between 9 and 15 inches.
Best Outfielder Gloves
Often times, infield and outfield gloves are quite similar in that the best brands are the best brands. The best companies take a great infield glove and make it bigger to turn it into an outfield glove. I really like the X2 as an outfielder’s glove, but I want to offer some different options, so we won’t include that in this selection.
Best baseball glove brands
Now that you know how to identify the type of glove that you want, we should look at the big players in the glove business. I have six baseball glove brands (companies) that I believe are worth a serious look: Rawlings, Mizuno, Easton, Wilson, Louisville Slugger and Nokona.
Rawlings is the golden standard in baseball gloves. They are known for the “gold glove award” in Major League Baseball and, thus, are the most popular glove company in the majors. Rawlings focuses on the adult market, but does manufacture youth baseball gloves. Rawlings has a bargain glove that you can find for about $40 and a more premium priced glove that is priced around $240. Surprisingly, the bargain price for an adult glove is the comparable to that of a youth glove. However, for the high end adult glove, you could pay as much as $400.
Most Popular Rawlings Gloves
Rawlings offers a number of gloves, but the most popular is easily the Gold Glove Series. This series offers great durability and name/logo recognition right away. The Gold Glove series covers most positions, which is nice. Player’s can purchase multiple gloves and still be familiar with the glove style. I’m really impressed with how well broken-in the glove is when it comes out of the box. It’s a popular glove, in part, because everyone knows about the gold glove award. This series also comes with a great price tag. It may be the fact that everyone recognizes “gold glove”, or the fact that it’s a great glove, ready off the shelf, but this is easily the most common glove that I’ve seen with a Rawlings logo. Rawlings second most popular glove is problem the Rawlings Custom Series. Many players like it for its customizability. Rawlings offers the glove in multiple colors, so it can be customized to the colors that a player likes. Many players get the glove in team colors. Like all of the other Rawlings products, this glove is made with full-grain leather to ensure stability and durability. The price point and the ability to make this glove your own is really impressive in a day where it seems that most companies want to create one glove for everyone to use.
Mizuno offers a number of models, mostly made from steer hide. Many of Mizuno’s gloves are a bit heavier than average, but are still a great quality. The quality seems to come with price. Mizuno’s youth gloves run a similar spectrum ranging from about $40 to $170. The Mizuno line of adult gloves is even pricier ($80-$500). Mizuno offers a great variety of material and web styles for any player’s liking, but the price is a bit high. However, the quality does seem to stand up over time.
Most Popular Mizuno Gloves
Their most popular glove is their Franchise Series. Mizuno has taken pride in making this a one-of-a-kind glove. They use a specialized hi-low stitching system that increases flexibility in the webbing of the glove. It seems to offer the best mix of flexibility and strength in the industry.
The franchise series also boasts Parashock technology which helps deaden the sting of the ball. Using Palm Soft technology ensures that, if a player catches the ball in the square of their palm, it isn’t too painful. The price point makes it all the better! Mizuno’s second offering is the Pro Soft Series that we previously mentioned. This glove is, clearly, high quality as its popularity comes from its quality, not its look. While most companies have started focusing on making a glove that looks sleek and attracts attention, Mizuno went with a “classic” style that isn’t going to be the talk of the town. As such, they had to focus on creating the highest quality glove. In the Pro series, they were successful. I like seeing leather laces on the glove as I believe the laces are the best way to keep the glove fitting properly.
Wilson is a great company who is well respected in the baseball world. They’ve been around for years, and have a rock solid reputation. They’re glove are typically made from cow hide leather. It seems that Wilson has found this to work well, and doesn’t change it with many of their models. Wilson doesn’t make as many youth models as I’d like, so it’s hard to find consistent pricing comparisons. However, I do really like the EZ Catch model as they come pre-broken in so that a youth can start using the glove right away. As for the adult models, the value gloves sell for about $40. The premium model of Wilson’s glove will run you about $350.
Most Popular Wilson Gloves
Wilson has the most popular glove on the market in the A2000 series. Like many other popular gloves, the A2000 covers multiple positions. This glove could have been mentioned as the best baseball glove for almost every position, but that wouldn’t have offered any insight. As mentioned above, I haven’t found a single player that has found any issues with these gloves. From online reviews, there are clearly people that have been displeased, but I’ve never talked to them. Wilson offers Dri-lex to cut down on sweat and, essentially, absorb perspiration. They’ve also added longer laces throughout the series to improve the ability to tighten the glove to your preference. Depending on which model you choose, the price tag is a bit higher than you’d like, but for the best glove in the game, it isn’t terrible. In reality, I think the A2000 series is pretty much the cream of the crop for Wilson. They offer similar options in the A1k and the A500 series. But, there is no reason to look any further than the A2000 series.
Easton is a well-known company in the baseball world. The catch is, they’re known more for bat production that being a part of the glove business. Easton has expanded to join the competition in the love market and does quite well. Easton likes to use steer hide in the gloves that it produces. This offers a slightly lighter glove than cow hide. Easton is the only company that uses a natural walnut oil to help tan its gloves. The quality is solid, and the prices are competitive. The value models are a bit more expensive than others, but the high end gloves come in at a discount compared to the competition.
Most Popular Easton Gloves
Easton’s most popular glove matches up with their most popular bat– the Mako Series. Easton created this glove using a specialized polyurethane rather than leather which significantly decreases the weight of the glove. Easton boasts a super soft finish with specialized oil-tanned leather and a hog-hide palm. This ensures a more comfortable fit for the fielder. They also claim that the “sponge-tricot” finger lining is supposed to be more comfortable. This glove is clearly focused on comfort and wearability. If you’re looking for an average glove that is going to feel good while you’re on the field, look no further. That was Easton’s focus, and they’ve done a great job. Easton offers an alternative to the Mako called the Prime Series. This series primarily focuses on mitts for catchers and first baseman, but I’ve heard fantastic things about the mitts that are in this series. This series offers mitts made with Buffalo leather which offers better durability than your typical leather. Easton believes that their VRS padding in the palm allows for added protection from harsh catches. The buffalo does add weight to the mitt itself, but is manageable. What really sets the Prime Series apart is its reasonable price tag. I would recommend this for someone who is looking for an economic glove more so than the highest quality.
Louisville Slugger is another company that is known for their bats, but is trying to move into the glove competition in hopes of expanding their business. The Louisville brand offers a premium steer hide glove that makes for a lighter, faster material. Their value-priced gloves are around $60, while the premium gloves will run about $200. This means that they offer a significant discount if you’re in the market for buying a high-end glove.
Most Popular Louisville Slugger Gloves
The Louisville Genesis series is a great glove. Like many other gloves on the market, Louisville uses buffalo hide to improve durability. What they’ve done to counteract the weight of the buffalo leather is make the back of the glove with mesh. This has 2 benefits:
- First, the mesh helps lighten the glove.
- Second, the mesh helps with breathability, making your hand sweat less while it’s in the glove.
By combining the leather with the mesh, there break-in period is fairly short. You’ll find that this glove brings the quality of America’s favorite bat company into the realm of the glove world. They’re not the best in the glove industry, but they make respectable gloves, and the Genesis is at the top of their line. The Dynasty Series is another popular option when looking to Louisville for a glove. The price is really the primary reason that the dynasty series is popular. The Dynasty series offers options for most positions which is a nice bonus. The modified trap web helps younger players in fielding as they don’t have to be perfect in fielding. The palm lining that Louisville has created also allows for comfort and is said to offer a customized break in. That is, the glove form fits to a player’s hand as the glove is being broken in. This is another glove that I would suggest if you’re looking for an economic glove rather than an elite glove.
Nokona is an interesting company. Nokona offers leather products, combined kangaroo and cow hide products, and buffalo skin products. Nokona seems to have a strong belief in their products, and isn’t willing to make a “cheaper” version of their gloves. Even the youth gloves that can be purchased will run about $225. A “value” glove from Nokona runs about $240 and the premium glove runs about $350. The price differences from Nokona often relate to the material that is used. A leather glove is what they consider value, while a buffalo glove is the high-end glove. Nokona is also impressively unique in that you can custom make any glove that you want. That is to say, they will custom make a glove with any material, style, and web that you wish. I truly believe that Nokona is the “up-and-coming” line of gloves in baseball.
Most Popular Nokona Gloves
Nokona offers so many high quality gloves. In my opinion, they’ve become the best in the business. Their most popular glove was mentioned earlier: The X2 series. The X2 series offers a mixture of stampeded and kangaroo leather which offers the best durability in the business. The kangaroo leather is the best mix of durability and weight in the business. The X2 series (and all Nokona products) offer a 2 year warranty. Adding the warranty to the durability ensures the X2 series, and most Nokona products, are at the top of my list when I’m searching for a glove. I’ve always been impressed with the Alpha Series from Nokona. What I’ve found unique about this glove is that it has 6 fingers instead of just 5. That is, the pocket is, essentially, an added finger to offer added stability when catching the ball. This unique design means that the glove isn’t for everyone, but a number of players that I’ve spoken with have said that it doesn’t dramatically alter the feel of the glove itself. It’s another glove that touts high durability meaning a player can wear this glove for years. All Nokona gloves seem to be meant for adults rather than youth as the durability means the glove will last much longer than most youth can wear it. That is to say, as a youth player grows, the glove the need will change. As such, I wouldn’t recommend spending $250+ for your 8 year old to have a durable glove that fits for 1 season.