Opinion: The Best Baseball Cleats
It's the time of the year to start breaking in a new pair of baseball cleats. But getting them ready for opening day is the easy part. Finding the perfect pair is what proves to be difficult. When picking out baseball cleats, the biggest hang-up comes with deciding whether to purchase a low-top or a mid-range model. To make the right selection, first decide which features are most important to you. Factor in things like weight, ankle support and durability. (Check out STACK's New Balance Baseball 2013 Photo Shoot.)
During my career, I always found myself going with low-top baseball cleats. Here's why.
Why Low Tops Are the Best Baseball Cleats
My game was based on speed, both on the bases and in the outfield. So I needed the lightest baseball cleat available. I also required enough support to handle playing a pair of weekend double-headers on top of a sprinkle of mid-week games. When looking at the cleats on the market today, I see more low-top options (around a 60/40 ratio). So players have more opportunities to find the right combination of weight, support and style, while fitting a variety of budgets.
This will ultimately depend on the brand and model, but when browsing the 25 most expensive cleats offered by a popular online baseball retailer, I found that the average price of low-tops was a little over a dollar less than the mids. I found seven low-top cleats ranging from $85 to $95 and only five mids in this range. The most expensive cleat available was a mid, the Nike Lunar Huarache Carbon Elite Mid Metal (retailing at $140). The most expensive low-top cleat was the Mizuno Pro KL 6 Low Metal ($125).
Checking out the same 25 shoes on the weight scale, the edge goes to low-top baseball cleats. On average, low-tops were slightly over an ounce lighter than mid-range models. My list of low-top cleats featured seven pairs under 13 ounces, including two pairs at 10 ounces or less. The lightest shoe available was the adidas adiZero 5 Tool Metal Low ($110) at an astonishing 9.3 ounces. The lightest mid-range cleat was the 3N2 Viper Mid Metal ($100) at 12.2 ounces.
This is completely subjective, but in my opinion the low-tops flat out look better than their mid-level counterparts. The Nike Zoom Vapor Elite ranks at the top of my scale in the looks department, along with the New Balance 4040 Low Metal ($95), which sports a more up-to-date style. The Nike Air MVP Low ($80) and the New Balance 3030 Low ($75) offer a more traditional look. Speaking of tradition, if you are a player who likes to wear stirrups, low-tops allow for more of the sock to be shown, which is more aesthetically pleasing. But if you prefer wearing pajama pants, it doesn't really matter because it will look awful either way.