Xander Bogaerts, Boston's ever-smiling, Aruba-born shortstop, is poised for a big year. He is on the cover of the latest Eastbay catalog, and Boston's management has expressed confidence in the young infielder, moving recent big-name signee and former Los Angeles Dodgers shortstop Hanley Ramirez to the outfield, thus affirming Bogaerts as their shortstop of the future.
As you may have noticed, Bogaerts has been repping New Balance on-field for awhile now. The brand has been a huge player in the baseball world for the past few years, and they don't plan to let up any time soon. As part of Bogaerts' recent Eastbay cover, the team at Eastbay sat down with the General Manager of New Balance Baseball, Mark Clinard, and the Business Unit Manager of New Balance Baseball, Dave Millman, to find out what went into designing some of the premier cleats in baseball today.
First up is the second iteration of the New Balance 3000, the New Balance 3000v2. This is the cleat Bogaerts will wear this season, and the one you see him sporting on the latest Eastbay cover.
The 3000v2 is comfort driven. Think of it as a running shoe on spikes. In talking with Bogaerts and other elite players, New Balance found that spike pressure is one of their main concerns. To solve the problem, New Balance developed a dual-density underfoot system to alleviate spike pressure and boost performance over the course of a long, grueling season. The area directly under the heel is made up of New Balance's REVlite compound, a soft, responsive cushioning that focuses on immediate foot comfort during standing and walking. Directly below that lies a full-length bed of REVlite RC. This compound is slightly denser, effectively eliminating spike pressure that occurs during running and fielding activities. The plate design of the 3000v2 is engineered to help eliminate dirt and debris buildup, which typically occurs with other cleats, giving you better traction over the long haul.
The 4040v2 is built for players with attitude. New Balance designed it for players who not only demand performance, but also play the game with an element of swag. A full-length REVlite midsole platform provides just the right amount of weight, flexibility and responsiveness. The bottom of the cleat features the 4040's tried-and-true stud placement, which delivers great traction in both the infield and outfield. A full-length synthetic upper snugly wraps the foot for a tight, secure fit, while a super-thin neoprene tongue hugs the top of the foot, eliminating lace bite.
People often say, "Practice how you play." That was the driving theme behind the 4040v2 Turf Trainer. Baseball players know hitting is a science—a game of milliseconds and millimeters—that depends on repetition and form. New Balance designed the 4040v2 Turf Trainer to mimic the exact same lay angle as the 4040v2 cleat. This means that whether you're wearing the trainers or the cleats, your feet are positioned at the exact same angle. Although it seems like an incredibly simple idea, it's actually quite revolutionary. By mimicking the angle in both the cleat and the trainer, New Balance has helped eliminate a key difference that used to exist between hitting in the cage and hitting during games, which leads to a more effective transition of in-practice work to on-field success. A nubby outsole rounds out the trainer, providing traction across a full range of training surfaces.
Minimus is a product name that you may have seen in other New Balance categories. The central idea behind the Minimus family is the concept of natural motion. New Balance believes there's a direct connection between what you feel underfoot and how you perform. Two-time All-Star C.J. Wilson helped provide the inspiration behind the Minimus cleat. In talking with him, New Balance found that he digs his toe into his sock insert so much that he creates a hole. He says this allows him to get closer to the ground and rubber, giving him a better feel for the game. New Balance took this insight and built it into a cleat so that every player could benefit from a better feel for the game.
If you want to experience for yourself the innovations that are driving New Balance baseball, view the full lineup over at Eastbay.com.