5 Things to Consider When Buying New Cleats
We gave you some insight into our thoughts on gloves, now lets talk about the cleats. A ballplayer’s cleats are not just a fashion statement. They are “where the rubber meets the road,” a used and abused piece of gear that needs to stand up to frequent punishment while keeping the player comfortable and agile.
For cleats, there are five main things to consider.
- Your style of play.
- The feel you like.
- The fields you play on.
- THE BOTTOM LINE $$$
If you don’t have time for the full article, here’s our recommendations based on the 5 criteria:
UNDER $100 / IN THE MLB
TOP OF THE LINE
If you’re still with us, lets dive into the 5 points that matter.
1. YOUR STYLE OF PLAY
Different positions require different gear. Pete Alonso hitting nukes and manning first has different needs than Ronald Acuna flying around the outfield and swiping bags.
Some guys tend to prefer a more stable base, even at the expense of some extra weight. Typically, bigger-bodied power hitters lean towards more supportive spikes. Pete Alonso is no different, wearing Nike Alpha Huarache Elite 2 Mid Cleats (available at Dick’s Sporting Goods) that provide a little more ankle support with a slight weight increase.
George Springer is no doubt a power threat, but when playing center or running the bases, Springer wants to be quick and his cleats compliment that play style. Spring wears the soccer-cleat-like Nike Lunar Vapor Ultrafly Elite 2 (available at Dick’s) which are built to be lightweight and to grab traction when you need it. Speed guys tend to lean towards a cleat that they can barely tell is there.
2. THE FEEL YOU LIKE
Cleats are something you shouldn’t be thinking about. If your cleats are comfortable and fit well, they should never be on your mind. A large factor in this is the overall feel of the cleat. Metal vs molded is a perpetual WPW debate with good ballplayers on either side of the fence.
Metal spiked cleats provide more grip and traction at the expense of comfort. Dee Gordon rocks the Under Armour Yard cleats, New Balance has the extremely popular 4040v5 low cleats, Nike offers the Alpha Huarache Elite 2 spikes, and Adidas sells the Afterburner 6 cleats.
Molded spikes are known for their comfort. There are less pressure points caused by the metal spikes. They do not dig in to hard dirt fields like metal spikes do, but some see the comfort as more important. New Balance is attempting to innovate with their Cypher 12 cleats, worn by Fransisco Lindor. The Cypher 12 features “glass-infused TPU studs that have comparable traction to metal studs” which represents a huge step forward for non-metal spikes.
3. THE FIELDS YOU PLAY ON
Some fields you play on are going to be done up like J-Lo during the halftime show and others are going to be a minefield. If you spend most of your time playing on perfectly manicured fields, well, aren’t you special. Most of us are playing on much less, and that matters when choosing a cleat.
If you aren’t playing on the “Field of Dreams,” you are likely going to be looking for as much grip as you can get. Base stealer Trea Turner uses the Adidas adiZero Afterburner 6 with metal spikes to get as much traction as possible when swiping bags. While Trea uses them on perfect fields, metal cleats are your best bet for digging into harder ground on sub-optimal fields.
Well maintained, and especially turf, fields typically require less aggressive spikes and you might be able to enhance your comfort-level with a molded cleat, like Giancarlo Stanton’s Nike Alpha Huarache Elite 2 Mid. It will save your feet a bit while still providing enough traction on a perfect natural or synthetic turf field.
Outfielder’s (Editor’s) Note: I can’t recommend molded cleats for outfielders on anything but TURF. Too much at risk, namely, LOOKIN’ LIKE A DAMN FOOL on wet grass. Slip-and-fall’s are never a good look, and it’ll be the play everyone remembers, win or lose. Wear metals and catch the ball.
There is no way around it–cleats will get abused. For guys playing a lot of games, it’s a new pair every year. Spikes get worn down, liners get torn up, and laces begin to break. This is natural and it’s only a matter of time.
Durability of cleats, like gloves, depends largely on positions. Catchers wreck their cleats while pitchers will excessively drag against the toe of their drive leg. With that being said, cleats made of durable, synthetic leather type materials tend to last longer. Mesh cleats often breathe better but the synthetic models will likely stand up better to the wear and tear. Manny Machado’s Jordan 13 MCS spikes are a great example of an entirely non-mesh cleat.
Pitchers’ cleats pose a unique challenge when it comes to durability. While the cleats as a whole take less abuse, their drive foot is often shredded. The toe of a pitchers drive leg is always a challenge for manufacturers. Full synthetic leather cleats can help but will still show wear. Luckily, Tuff Toe Pro has created a product that can be applied to the toe of any cleat that will help the longevity of your spikes on the mound.
5. THE BOTTOM LINE $$$
While cleats are not the most expensive piece of gear, it is probably the one you will have to replace most often. Gloves and bats tend to to have a longer life than your spikes will, so most will look for VALUE.
Most companies offer some fantastic options under the $100 price point. The Nike Alpha Huarache, New Balance 4040v5, and Under Armour Yard cleats are all options worn by guys at the MLB level that are under $100. Some cleats do climb over the $100 price point. New Balance’s FuelCell COMPv2 comes in at $140 due, in large part, to the glass fiber-infused TPU spikes. Nike also offers the Force Zoom Trout 6 at $130 which sells itself as the best combination of lightweight movement and stability on the market. Adidas’ Icon V spikes come in at $120 and promote their ” mesh upper with a sock-like fit for easy entry and a locked-in feel.”
In the Bigs, the bottom line is, BE DIFFERENT. Whether it be the growing world of one-off, hand painted cleats from guys like Nomad Customs and Stadium Custom Kicks or converting normal shoes into baseball cleats through customcleats.com and GOVRN’s “sole swap.”
The world of cleats is innovating to combine comfort with traction, weight reduction with durability, and style with price. Despite all the options, don’t be ashamed to hit the bargain rack at Marshall’s or Ross. You can also find some great options, depending on your size, on Baseball Express’ clearance page.