Any ball player knows that the purchase of a baseball glove is an investment. There are many factors involved in the selection process and a high quality, leather glove can last even the most hardcore athlete for many years. These may be some of the best baseball gloves on the market:
- Rawlings Player Preferred
- Rawlings Renegade
- Mizuno MVP Prime
- Wilson A360
- Wilson A2000 Clayton Kershaw Game Model
- Rawlings Gamer
- Rawlings Gamer XLE
- Rawlings Premium Pro
- Shoeless Joe H Web
- Louisville Slugger 125
How to Choose a Top Rated Baseball Glove
There are several factors that go into the selection of a baseball glove. The size is going to vary based on both the age of the player and their position. There are also different glove styles required, based on the position being played.
Another criterion that needs to be considered is the handedness of the baseball player and their personal preferences regarding materials, padding and optional features. These optional differences can also affect the ease and speed with which the glove can be broken in.
Different position, different glove
In addition to there being differences in total glove size, there are also variations in the size and webbing style of the glove’s pocket used in various positions. Some positions use gloves while others use mitts. There are also typical differences in other features, such as padding
Pocket size and Webbing Style
The glove’s pocket, which is located between the thumb and index finger, can come in a variety of sizes based on the needs of the position for which they are designed. The pocket’s webbing is called open when it has only a couple of cross pieces in each direction and space between them. A closed webbing has either one or two pieces that cover the entire area of the pocket or a woven pattern with no spaces between the straps.
Gloves vs Mitts
Although some people use these terms interchangeably, there is a distinct difference. A baseball glove is much like an enlarged hand, in that it has five distinct fingers which are laced together in a variety of ways. Mitts, however, are more circular with no individual fingers and, often, additional padding around the exterior circumference. Gloves are usually measured from the tip of the index finger to the hinge between the little finger and heel pad. Mitts are often measured based on their entire circumference.
Feature Differences by Position
Gloves and mitts designed for specific positions generally have the following feature differences (1):
- Outfielder’s gloves – These are usually rather long, often 12” – 12.75”, with deep pockets. The webbing is a matter of preference in this position, though most prefer an open web because it allows for faster ball retrieval.
- Infielder’s gloves – These tend to be shorter (11” – 12”) with a smaller, open web pocket so the ball can be retrieved and fielded more quickly.
- Pitcher’s gloves – Most pitchers prefer a shorter (11.75” – 12”) glove with a closed web pocket, to help conceal the type of pitch they’re preparing to throw.
- First Baseman’s mitts – These mitts tend to be as much as 12.5” – 12.75” long and wide, which allows the player to scoop up badly thrown balls.
- Catcher’s mitts – The round shape of these mitts provides a better target for the pitcher and the additional padding helps to protect the catcher’s hand from high-velocity pitches.
This is the area that tends to confuse some people because it seems backwards. They are named based on the handedness of the player, rather than the hand on which they are worn. For example, left handed baseball gloves are worn on the right hand so the player’s dominant left hand is free to throw balls. Conversely, a right-handed glove is worn on the left hand of a player whose right hand is their dominant, throwing hand.
Personal Preference Differences
A glove’s wrist closure is one area that depends more on the player’s personal preference than the position played. Open back refers to a wrist closure that has space above it to provide more wrist and hand flexibility. A closed back glove doesn’t have this space, though it sometimes has a hole for the index finger.
Although padding is used around the perimeter of mitts to help keep the ball in the pocket, there can also be additional padding added to the palm for comfort. Also, the material from which the glove is made can vary quite a bit, based both on the age of the player for whom it is made and its cost. Leather gloves are more durable but synthetic ones are lighter and can be easier for young players to handle. Gloves made from treated leathers can be easier to break in.
How to break in a baseball glove?
For it to be an effective tool, a glove needs to act as an extension of the player’s hand. The way this is accomplished is by breaking it in. The traditional method of doing this is just to use it, but this can take months to years to complete. There are several ways to accelerate this process. Depending on the type of leather it’s made from and the sort of treatment it receives prior to being sold, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks.
Although there are many schools of thought on the best ways to break in a glove, they all usually involve some version of the following: lubrication (with oil, water, or both), heat (to soften the leather), shaping (to create a pocket for the ball) and wrapping (to make the glove fold with the hand). A good, informational video on this process can be found here.
10 Best Baseball Gloves for Sale in 2017
Listed below are ten of the most popular baseball gloves for sale this year.
Rawlings Player Preferred Series Gloves
If you’re looking for one of the best outfield gloves out there, you might want to check this one out. These gloves and mitts combine premium materials with affordability, making them accessible to players of all skill levels. They are constructed from full-grain leather and oiled to reduce the amount of break in required. Leather laces provide durability and added strength and the variety of designs make them suitable for baseball and softball.
The manufacturer has added zero shock palm pads to help absorb ball impact and reduce sting. The series includes a variety of designs in 12”-14” adult sizes. The outfield gloves have a closed back and hole for the index finger, which improves stability when stretching to catch a ball. The infield gloves come with both open and closed webbing in the pocket.
- Adjustable wrist closure
- Decreased break in time
- Made from premium materials
- Can be a bit tight
Rawlings Renegade Series Gloves
This series of gloves can be included among the best infield gloves available today. Designed for all infield positions, they come in both gloves and mitts. The gloves have an open back and the mitts are closed, but both come with adjustable Velcro wrist closures. They offer high quality at an affordable price and require almost no break in. Their full grain, oil-tanned leather shells provide both shape retention and durability.
These gloves fit both youths and adults, ranging in size from 11.5 to 14 inches, and can be used for either baseball or softball. They come with open webbing, to give a better view of fly balls while catching, and closed weave designs for faster ball retrieval. Pads on both the palm and index finger provide extra protection from impact sting. These gloves are available in both left- and right-handed designs.
- Flexible designs allow for use in multiple positions
- Game-ready right off the shelf
- May not hold up to years of rigorous use
Mizuno MVP Prime Series Gloves
These higher-end gloves are made from Bio Soft Leather, which provides a smooth, professional style of texture that is neither too soft nor too oily. They offer both a great feel and firm control. Their center pocket design places the pocket beneath the index finger for a versatile break in. The PlusGrip thumb provides extra padding and comfort. Thick stitching offers professional level glove durability, making this one of the best outfield gloves available to amateur players.
Gloves are available in right- and some left-handed designs. The pocket options offered for gloves are mostly open web designs, with a partly open design on the first base mitts. Gloves have open backs with laced, adjustable wrist closures. The first base and catcher’s mitts come with either an open, laced back or a Velcro, adjustable, closed back.
- Professional quality designs and materials
- Durable and comfortable
- Limited availability in left handed designs
- Can run tight in some designs
Wilson A360 Series Gloves
With beginner baseball players, it’s usually a good idea to start out with cheap baseball gloves while they’re deciding whether this is a sport they want to stick with. These gloves are made from polyurethane leather, which makes them lightweight and easier for the beginner to handle. They come in both youth and adult sizes and most designs can be used in multiple positions so the player who is just starting out can find the one they’re best suited to play.
The palm and webbing of the pocket have pigskin leather, giving them a professional feel. Left- and right-handed gloves are available. Most models have an open back with adjustable, laced wrist closure. Those with a closed back come with a finger hole and Velcro adjustable strap. Pockets come in both open and closed webbing designs. There are a couple of mitt designs available, but most are gloves.
- Affordably priced
- Most designs can be worn in multiple positions
- Lower quality polyurethane leather
- Padding can be a bit thin
Wilson A2000 Clayton Kershaw Game Model Pitcher’s Gloves
The A2000 series glove designs are modeled after those used by pro players and comes in both infield and outfield designs. The Clayton Kershaw model is one of the best pitching gloves available. The Pro Stock Leather construction makes this glove both durable and easy to break in so you can begin pitching like a pro. Dual welting of the finger backs creates a sturdy pocket that holds its shape over time. The Dri-Lex wrist lining helps keep the hand cool by drawing moisture away from the skin.
Its deep pocket and two-piece closed web pocket allows for complete concealment of the pitcher’s grip changes while also being effective at fielding line drives. This 11.75” pitchers glove comes in both left- and right-handed models. The laced wrist closure is open and adjustable for a more comfortable fit.
- Extremely High Quality
- Durable design
- More expensive than most
Rawlings Gamer Glove Series
These American made baseball gloves have been given an updated, pro-style appearance and texture. They’re made with contrast, rawhide lacing and upgraded shell leather that offer performance and shape retention unmatched among similarly priced gloves. Catchers mitts come with the palm pad leather-reinforced and thumb loop padded for added comfort. Gloves offer a larger pocket than others of comparable size. These gloves and mitts are conditioned to be field-ready right off the shelf.
Glove sizes range from 9 to 13 inches and adult and youth designs come in both right- and left-handed models. Infield/outfield gloves come with both open- and closed-web pocket designs and open backs with lace-adjusted wrist closures. This series also includes outfield gloves that have a closed back, finger hole, and Velcro wrist closure. They also comes with pockets in either a closed, woven pocket or a trap-eze design.
- Major League performance at a moderate price
- Minimal break in required
- The snug fit designs might be too tight for some players
- Laces can be a bit dry off the shelf
Rawlings Gamer XLE Glove Series
With a lot of colors to choose from, these are some really cool baseball gloves. They’re made from brightly colored, full-grain leather shells with contrasting rawhide leather laces. They also come in standard colors. The position specific models have pro designs and inner palm break points that provide a custom shape. They’re 80% broken in by the manufacturer so they’re ready to hit the field right off the shelf.
These gloves are available in sizes ranging from 9.5 to 13 inches for youth and adult players. The thumb loops are padded for extra comfort and both the finger backs and palm are leather lined. The pockets come in single- and double-post open webbing patterns on the infield gloves and Trap-Eze web on the outfielders. The outfield gloves come with a closed back for extra secure hold and the infielders have an open back with an adjustable, laced wrist closures.
- Bright colors let your personality shine on the field
- Position specific, authentic pro pattern models
- Sizes can run a bit tight
Rawlings Premium Pro Series Gloves
These American made baseball gloves are made from soft, full-grain leather and only require minimal breaking in. The heel and palm are lace-less, which provides a better feel and makes the glove easier to break in. These gloves and mitts are made with patented Solid Core Technology that includes Opti-fit, which improves fit to enhance grip and command of the ball. They come in several authentic pro patterns.
With sizes ranging from 10.5 to 12.75 inches, and both right- and left-handed designs, this series provides gloves and mitts for any position. The open backs feature laced, adjustable wrist closures. Pockets come with both open and closed webbing patterns including basket weave, 2-piece solid, H weave, and trap-eze. The design choices include utility gloves, which are versatile and can be used in multiple positions. These mens baseball gloves are designed with many of the pro features that can take your game skills to a new level.
- Enhanced fit, feel and function
- Outfield glove comes with pro preferred trap-eze pocket webbing
- Some sizes run small
Shoeless Joe Gloves
If you’re looking for mens baseball gloves with a vintage look, these might be for you. They’re made from cowhide that has been Antique Tobacco tanned, using their trademarked process, and hand laced and treated with softening ingredients. Together, these processes give these gloves a game-worn look and leave them needing little to no breaking in. The manufacturer also offers an affordable program for leather reconditioning, to help keep gloves feeling and smelling like new.
Glove designs include position-specific choices, ranging in size from 9 to 14 inches, for youths and adults. These gloves offer a full range of pocket sizes and webbing choices that are position-appropriate. Both gloves and mitts have open backs with lace adjustable wrist closures. Mitts come padded with XRD foam for maximum impact protection. Both left- and right-handed options are available in all designs.
- Gloves are hand-stitched and thoroughly conditioned prior to sale
- Manufacturer offers leather reconditioning at an affordable price
- Gloves arrive field-ready
- Higher priced than many other brands
Louisville Slugger 125 Series Gloves
Although the brand is more known for its bats, these are among the best infield gloves on the market. They also offer outfield gloves and catchers mitts. They’re constructed from soft, cowhide leather and only require a small amount of breaking in. Pockets come with open or closed weave, to suit any player’s preference. These gloves and mitts are available for both left- and right-handed throwers and all have strong, durable lacing.
Infield and outfield gloves come with an open back and adjustable, laced wrist closure. The catcher’s mitt is also open backed, but its strap is adjusted with Velcro fasteners. Sizes range from 11.25 to 12.5 so it’s suitable for both youth and adult players. Though soft and flexible, due to the cowhide construction, these gloves are still durable and long-lasting. These gloves and mitts are manufactured by one of the largest and longest established baseball companies in the world.
- Soft leather cowhide offers simple breaking in
- Open backed catcher’s mitt allows for more flexibility
- Designs offered aren’t position specific, only infield/outfield
The Clear Winner is….
All the gloves listed will get the job done but the Rawlings Player Preferred series of baseball gloves stand out from all the others. They offer the widest range of sizes, making them appropriate for youth and adult players. They also come in position-specific designs with pro player preferred features. The mitts feature deep pockets and XRD foam padding providing impact sting protection and allowing for fast ball retrieval. All designs are available in both left- and right-handed models. With their vintage look, thanks to the tobacco tanning, these gloves come off the shelf looking like a piece of treasured baseball equipment that has already offered years of defensive play.