Baseball: How to Buy Batting GlovesCopywriter, T. Scharfenberg | Article updated: 11/13/12
Batting gloves are all about feel. Find out how to pick the best pair for you, considering grip, finger construction, moisture control and more.
Baseball batting gloves have become incredibly advanced over the last few years, now with every inch of the glove specifically designed to give you the best in comfort and performance. Glove palms are built to do some of the work for you, gripping to the bat and keeping you from clenching too hard. Even the thinnest gloves are now capable of reducing large amounts of sting from hits and preventing the blisters that are caused from repeatedly gripping your bat. Find a pair that's thin enough and you can also wear it underneath your fielder's glove to reduce sting in the pocket.
We'll also tell you what the pros are wearing, especially the Silver Sluggers. These award-winners have been named the best offensive players by position and league, so they know which batting gloves work better than anyone else.
Material and Grip Batting gloves are available in both leather and synthetic. Each of these materials gives pretty decent grip, but the majority of gloves on the market are made with leather palms. These gloves tend to be more expensive, but batters often prefer the natural feel that leather gives them. It's common to see these leather gloves with mesh areas for added ventilation. If your gloves' palms are leather, you can dry brush them and then mist them with water to retain their stickiness.
For high quality leather palms, you can try a pair that uses Pittards leather, like Rawlings' The Workhorse Batting Gloves. The leather is developed to give it consistent durability and increased water/sweat resistance. The Workhorse gloves are also built with their Dynamic Fit System™ for a flexible feel. Quite a few pairs of The Workhorse gloves were seen on South Carolina's 2012 College World Series second-place team.
You may also come across gloves that advertise Cabretta leather palms. This sheepskin leather is used for its ability to remain strong despite an incredibly soft feel. Cabretta leather is a choice for many elite athletes and can be found in a few gloves on the market, like the Marucci Professional or Easton VRS Icon. We like the VRS Icon because not only does it have a Cabretta palm, it also has VRS shock-reducing pads and a diamond pattern for grip.
Synthetic gloves can offer comfort and large amounts of flexibility, due to the addition of spandex in the construction of some of these models. They are often good at pulling sweat off your skin and keeping your hands feeling dryer. These gloves can be cleaned and if you want to restore their grip, rinsing them under water should do the trick.
If you're looking for some extra technology to increase your grip, there are a few gloves that specialize in this. Easton's TurboSlot III Hitting Gloves include Power Pad technology that correctly places the bat handle on your fingers for increased bat speed. This leverage is designed to add more power to your swing. Another option is the Cutters Pro 2.0 Yin Yang Batting Gloves. These use Cutters' C-TACK™ material on Cabretta leather. The tackiness is built into the palm, just like it is in their football receiving gloves. This keeps the glove from losing its grip throughout the season. Oakland A's center fielder Yoenis Cespedes is wearing Cutters. They've been helping this newcomer surprise fans with his offensive abilities this season. Oakland A's center fielder Yoenis Cespedes has been wearing Cutters to help him hit consistently. He's been sending clutch hits over the wall late into the 2012 season.
Construction The way your gloves are made will decide how they fit on your hands and how comfortable they are. Extra fabric anywhere on the glove will lessen your feel for the bat and make it more likely that your gloves will cause irritation as they rub on your hands.
Stretch: This is always a good idea in batting gloves. Whether it's the entire glove or just specifically-placed stretch zones, elastic fabrics are designed to retract. They will help avoid bunching within your grip. Nike's Diamond Elite Pro gloves use a stretch gusset over the thumb to help you wrap your hand around the bat comfortably.
Articulated Thumb: This means that the thumb piece of the glove is cut separately from the rest of the material. This technique tends to add mobility to your batting glove, giving you more freedom of movement in the thumb. Franklin batting gloves have mastered this design, using a floating thumb to give you extra freedom. You'll see Franklin gloves on LA Dodgers third baseman and 2006 Rookie of the Year, Hanley Ramirez. He won a Silver Slugger in 2006 and 2008. Philadelphia Phillies second baseman Chase Utley is also wearing Franklin batting gloves, and has collected four Silver Slugger awards in the last six seasons.
Pre-Curved Fingers: A lot of players consider this an absolute requirement for their gloves. A glove with pre-curved fingers will not lie flat, but will keep a natural curve. This construction lessens the amount of fabric that will bunch underneath your knuckles when you make a fist or grip the bat.
Wrist Style The key with any style wrist strap is fit and lockdown. Whether your cuff flips up or straps around your wrist, you need enough security to keep your glove from slipping or fitting in a way that distracts you at the plate. When choosing a batting glove, you'll see mostly Velcro® straps, and some gloves with snap closures. It now comes down to reliability vs. flexibility.
A wrist style with snaps will give you reliability. They are solid designs that are almost guaranteed to keep the wrist closed. The down side to snaps is that they can be difficult to adjust when you only have a second during plays.
On the other hand, a Velcro wrist closure is exceptionally easy to adjust quickly. Velcro will also give you a wider range of adjustability and fit options. Right now, this is a more popular option than snaps for major manufacturers, but it can get dirty and wet, becoming less effective over time. If this type of lockdown is what you look for, try the Louisville Slugger Freestyle 1.0. It uses a full wrist wrap for extra support. Want to go more minimal? The Nike Vapor Elite wrist is built for mobility and feel.
For the best moisture-wicking gloves, trust the brands that have mastered drying technologies across the board. Nike Batting Gloves often use Dri-FIT® fabric between the fingers to dry high-sweat zones. Mesh panels at the back of the hand and over the knuckles keep this glove breathable as well. Nike's glove are worn practically everywhere, including on some of the top hitters in the Yankees lineup. Third baseman Alex Rodriguez has a whopping ten Silver Slugger awards and three MVP awards. Second baseman Robinson Cano is wearing these too, and he's earned four Silver Slugger awards since his debut in 2005.
You can also choose HeatGear® technology, available in the Under Armour Motive Batting Gloves. HeatGear is placed within the four-way stretch fabric for great breathability. You'll find UA gloves with HeatGear on Cincinnati Reds second baseman Brandon Phillips, who won a Silver Slugger award in 2011. Miami Marlins shortstop Jose Reyes wears these as well. He got himself a Silver Slugger in 2006 and he's been seen swinging in the Yard styles for years. Not to be forgotten is one of Under Armour's biggest sluggers - Bryce Harpera, outfielder for the Washington Nationals. This phenom trusts his gloves to give him the ultimate grip.
Fit When determining your glove size, always measure on your dominant hand. You should measure the number of inches from the base of your palm to the tip of your middle finger. Each glove manufacturer has their own set of sizing measurements but here is a general guideline:
|Baseball Batting Gloves Sizing Chart|
|Size||Base of Your Palm|
|XS||Less than 6.75 inches|
|S||6.75 to 7 inches|
|M||7 to 7.25 inches|
|L||7.25 to 7.75 inches|
|XL||7.75 to 8 inches|
You can find size charts by manufacturer, tips for measuring and information on Eastbay's Fit Promise guarantee within the sizing tab under each of Eastbay's batting gloves.
The final feel of your glove is difficult to describe. You want your batting gloves to feel snug, but comfortable. Having a pair that doesn't slip is extremely important in order to avoid distraction and to give you the proper amount of protection. Make sure it's also tight enough to avoid excessive bunching when you make a fist. But if your glove is too tight, it will keep you from moving freely. Make sure you can move your fingers, individually and easily. If your batting gloves fit properly, and you take care of them, a good quality pair could last more than one season.