The expression “fits like a glove” takes on a whole new meaning when it comes to finding the best baseball glove. You want to find the right match because a new glove could end up being your trusty companion for several years. A glove is like a fine wine, it gets better with age. You know what we’re talking about. Nothing beats a battle-tested, full-grain leather, rugged glove that’s weathered a few seasons of sweat and dirt. It acquires a charm of its own. If you’re looking for youth baseball gloves check out our guide here.
In this equipment guide, Dugout Debate covers all the bases: the best gloves types for each position, reviews of the best baseball gloves of 2017, and we go over a handful of things you should keep an eye on before making a final purchase decision. Whether you’re a weekend warrior or a teenager with a heart set on going pro, there’s something for everyone. There is no one size fits all for baseball players, so you may want to try out a few of your buddies and teammates gloves to get an idea of what you’re looking for. If you can, find a company with a liberal return policy just in case things don’t work out and you need to exchange.
Overview of the Best Baseball Gloves 2016-2017
Here are the most popular and top rated baseball gloves for this season.
|Louisville Slugger FG Omaha Pro||Outfield||12.75 Inch|
|Wilson A800 Game Ready Soft Fit||Outfield||12.5 Inch|
|Rawlings Premium Pro Series Glove||Infield & Outfield||11.25, 11.5, 11.75, 12, 12.5, 12.75 Inch|
|Rawlings Renegade Catcher's Mitt Series||Catcher||31.5 Inch|
|Rawlings Renegade First Base Series||First Base||11.5, 12.5 Inch|
|Easton Core Series Pro Grade Rawhide||Infield||11.5 Inch|
|Rawlings GG Gamer Series||Outfield||12.75 Inch|
|Easton Mako Comp Series||First Base||12.75 Inch|
|Mizuno MVP Prime SE Infielder's Series||Infield||11.75 Inch|
|Mizuno MVP Prime SE Outfielder's Series||Outfield||12.75 Inch|
|Mizuno MVP Prime First Base Series||First Base||13 Inch|
|Mizuno Samurai||Catcher||34 Inch|
|Wilson A2000||Catcher||33 Inch|
|Akadema ADV33 Torino Series||Outfield||12.75 Inch|
|Rawlings Heart Of the Hide Dual-Core Series||Infield||11.5 Inch|
|2016 Wilson A2K Brandon Phillips Game Model||Infield||11.5 Inch|
How to Choose the Best Glove for You
Size. Bigger isn’t always better when it comes to baseball gloves. This will mostly depend on your position. For infielders, cleanly fielding the ball and the ability to make a quick transfer from glove to throwing hand is the most important factor. A smaller glove with a shallower pocket makes it easy to get the ball out of the glove and results in a speedy transfer. We talk more about positions and types of gloves in our next section below. Rawlings also has a nice table for glove sizing.
Webbing. The webbing connects the thumb of the glove to the rest of the finger slots. This is the part that folds and expands the easiest, creating the “basket” that assists the player in catching the ball. Glove manufacturers have come up with all sorts of cool names for their special webs, but they generally fall into two broad categories. Closed webs use a tight woven pattern of leather that features no gaps in the webbing. Pitchers usually use this type so they can better hide their grips pre-delivery. Open webs use cross-like patterns of leather pieces to create gaps which the player can see through which can be helpful for tracking fly balls (though you’ll sacrifice some of your ability to block out the sun). Open webbing also allows dirt to fall out through the spaces so you don’t scoop a glove full load of dirt when fielding a ground ball.
Backing. This is the part of the glove that rests on the back of your hand. The backing is either an open or closed design. Backing tends to be more of a personal preference thing, as both open and closed backed gloves offer similar performance. The key difference is that an open back allows more flexibility in the wrist and is generally favored by infielders, while a closed back provides extra wrist stability and is usually preferred by first basemen and outfielders for those laser beam line drives. In addition, open backs provide more ventilation for sweaty hands which is a nice benefit on hot summer days.
Material. The main differentiator in the quality of a baseball glove is the grade of the leather. Leather quality has a drastic effect on the mitt’s durability, softness, performance, look, feel, and break-in time. A general rule of thumb is that the stiffer the leather, the higher the leather quality. In turn, this also means it’s going to take a hell of a lot longer to break in. For example, a Rawlings Heart of the Hide is going to start out ultra-stiff until you beat it up some. Eventually, however, leather of this quality will mold to the player’s hand and last many seasons. Types of leather include:
- Synthetic Leather: very affordable, great for newer players.
- Top-grain Leather: second-highest quality of leather, thinner and more pliable than full-grain.
- Full-grain Leather: highest grade leather, the grain remains providing excellent durability as well as breathability.
Price. You’ve heard it before, “You get what you pay for,” blah blah blah. You don’t have to buy the most expensive mitt out there to get the best performance. There are quite a few fairly priced gloves that will do just fine. No one needs Rawlings’ top tier glove to field a ground ball. The main thing to look for is the quality of the leather and set your expectations accordingly. Don’t expect to buy a synthetic glove and have the thing last more than a couple seasons. Keep in mind by the time you go pro, you won’t need to worry about buying fancy gear anyway.
Best Types of Gloves for Each Position
You better not be running out to shortstop with a catcher’s mitt on. The only exception is if you lost a bet last night out on the town and you’re doing the honorable thing by following through. Good luck fielding balls with that bulky thing on. Nor do you want to be catching fly balls with an infielder’s glove unless you’re trying to make it more challenging. There are a few different designs that help make each position’s job a bit easier and we take a look at those here.
For simplicity’s sake, let’s say there are five main positions in the game of baseball: pitcher, catcher, first baseman, infielder, and outfielder. This makes it easier to distinguish the main types of gloves that are commonly seen these days. It’s always a good idea to look for any edge you can get over the competition—so buying a glove designed for your position is probably worth it even if it’s a bit more expensive.
- Pitcher’s Glove. Most pitchers opt for an 11 to 11.75-inch sized glove. They usually opt for a closed web design to hide their grips from the prying eyes of the opposing team’s coaches.
- Catcher’s gloves are a whole other breed. Robust gloves, these are built to handle inning after inning battering of 70+ mph missiles. These mitts are fingerless and feature heavy padding. A shallow pocket allows easy access for fast throws. A common catcher’s mitt size is 32 inches.
- First Baseman. First baseman gloves are special because of their length. Most of the best first baseman gloves are 13 inches long, helping extend their reach and rein in wild throws.
- Typically infielders will select a glove between 10.5 to 11.75 inches in size. Smaller in size, these gloves’ shallow pockets facilitate a quick delivery to beat the base runner’s dash to safety. These gloves usually have open backs for excellent flexibility and ultra-fast reflex catches.
- Outfielders’ glove size usually falls in the 12 to 12.75 inch range. This creates a deep pocket which is perfect for reaching over the fence and thwarting a would-be home run. Poor guy, did you have to do that? Of course you did.
Baseball Glove Sizing
|13 and older||Infield||10.5-11.5″|
|13 and older||Outfield||12-12.75″|
You’ll hear some people talk about how they won’t touch anything that doesn’t have Wilson or Rawlings name on it with a ten-foot pole. Sure it’s nice to have the recognizable red stamp of recognizable quality that comes with gloves from a company like Rawlings. And there’s no doubt about it, the heavy hitters like Wilson and Rawlings make some of the best gloves in the business. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t some other players in the game that make quality gloves. For example, Mizuno, Louisville, Franklin, Nokona, and a few others make a great glove too. More important than getting the “best” brand however, is finding one that fits your hand and the position you play on defense. Also, consider how often you’re going to be using it, are you in a rec league that only has a handful of games each year? You probably don’t need the top of the line leather.
The Best Baseball Gloves 2016-2017
Without further ado, here is our lineup of the best baseball gloves on the market. We’ve broken them down by each position so you can skip to the relevant section for you.
Best Infielder Baseball Gloves
These infielder gloves are also a great option for pitchers as well.The Wilson Game Ready Soft Fit Infield & Pitcher Baseball Glove wins our award for all-around best infielder’s glove. It’s a fair price for the exceptional quality. The 11.75-inch size and T-Web design is ideal for infielders. The low profile heel is an added boon for taking on grounders with extra pep. Wilson offers the Game Ready in both left and right handed versions.
The full leather construction incorporating Cheyenne Penny Leather makes for a glove built to last. The “Game Ready” describes how the mitt is 100% factory broken in so you don’t have to spend all winter wearing it around town just to thoroughly break it in.
The Rawlings Primo Series is the best of the best. Rawlings is the premier manufacturer in the glove game. You can check out their list of glove series here. At 11.5 inches, the Primo is the ideal size for infielders. This glove is also offered in a 12.75-inch outfield size. The Primo’s leather is buttery soft with a supple feel that’s just plain addicting. The price tag might make you fall out of your seat, but what do you expect from a glove crafted with two layers of the finest full grain Italian Calfskin leather.
The padding inside is 100% wool, adding just the right level of cushion. The hot stuffed 100 lb. tensile strength laces are built to hold up over many seasons in any climate. It’ll take a while to break this glove in, so don’t expect to use it on game day if you just bought it the day before.
Hopefully, your wife won’t take it too hard when she discovers you bought a glove instead of making the car payment this month. If you’re looking for the cream of the crop but don’t want to drop four benjamins the Rawlings Heart of the Hide is another full-grain leather glove from Rawlings for half the cost.
The Wilson A2000 Infield Baseball Glove is one of the best-selling premium gloves on the market. This model is 11.75 inches, and Wilson went with an H-Web design for the webbing. Crafted with pro stock leather, it is a long lasting glove. Many players’ favorite parts about this glove is the Dri-Lex wrist lining tech that Wilson installed in the heel area. It helps prevent sweat build-up even on those 90+ degree days. Wilson even has an “Advisory Staff” that works with MLB players to continuously improve and perfect their pro stock gloves like this one. They offer this glove in multiple color styles.
If you’re not looking to spend that much money, the A1K from Wilson is a great alternative and about half the cost.
The Rawlings Heart of the Hide Outfield Baseball Glove is a 12.75 inch beast of a mitt featuring a Trap-Eze web. It’s got a D-ring strap that allows wrist adjustment that won’t wear down like Velcro. This glove uses nothing but the best Horween Leather from the USA.
The glove itself is a dark brown color with light brown lacing. The palm is imprinted with the Heart of the Hide logo that will make others flush with envy. Once fully broken-in, the deep pocket well will let no fly ball escape.
Louisville Slugger Omaha Outfielder’s Baseball Glove is a bit more reasonably priced than the Heart of the Hide. You’re still getting cowhide leather, that’s been pre-treated with oil to reduce break in time.
The 12.75 inch is an ideal size for outfielders, with a substantial pocket and six finger webbing that fetches the craftiest of falling fly balls. The cool thing about this glove is that it has the vintage leather look, a throwback to the old days of America’s beloved sport of baseball.
If you’re looking to shake things up with some crazy colors, Mizuno’s MVP Prime outfielders glove fits the bill. A 12.75-inch mitt, Mizuno markets it as a fielder’s mitt.
Best First Baseman Gloves
Here are the top picks for first baseman’s gloves.
Best Catcher’s Gloves
These gloves form a brick wall against those wild pitches.