baseball buying guide
Flying screens

What to look for when shopping for gloves.

A baseball/softball glove is an extension of the hand. They are held together by welts, bindings and laces.

Pocket - Allows the player to easily retrieve the ball and make quick plays

Backs - There are two types of backs for gloves

Open Back

  • Leaves a space across the glove


Closed Back

  • Includes a finger hole for extra support


Back types are a matter of personal preference

Different sized gloves have benefits to playing different positions.

Infielder Gloves

  • Range in size from 11 inches to 12 inches

  • Have a curved shaped and are shorter and more narrow than other gloves for quick ball retrieval


Middle Infielder (second base/shortstop)

  • Often uses a shorter glove to maximize speed when turning double plays

  • Most middle infielders will use an 11 to 11.5-inch glove


Third Baseman

  • Often longer in length to help catch hard-hit balls

  • The glove size will usually be 12 inches


Pitchers

  • Need gloves that are a little longer to help catch hard-hit balls

  • The glove size must allow them to position their fingers on the ball without being seen by the batter


Outfielder Gloves

  • Designed for catching fly balls and pockets are not deep

  • The glove size will usually range from 12 inches to 12.75 inches to help catch balls during dives or jumps


1st Baseman Mitt

  • Most are taller, wider and have deeper pockets

  • Has no fingers with a flat back

  • Additional reach for errant throws or scooping balls in the dirt


Catcher's Mitt

  • Extra padding on pinky and thumb for extra protection

  • More padding built into the glove's interior

  • Top of glove is thinner with less padding

  • Pocket is large for scooping balls, but shallow so the ball can be retrieved quickly


Glove Size and Common use by position
Size (inch)Position
12.75Outfield
12.5Outfield
12.25Utility
123rd Base/Pitcher
11.75Infield
11.5Middle infield
11.25Middle infield
11 or lessMiddle infield


Gloves are available in a variety of leathers, ranging from Good, Better to Best quality.
Synthetic Leather (Good)Pigskin (Good)Standard Leather (Better)Pro Stock Leather (Best)
Soft, vinyl, man-made materialStep up from synthetic leather glovesPrice will be affected by the quality of the cut and the thickness of the leather as well as the quality of the bindings and welts Highest caliber of leather available
Requires very little break-in, game readyRequires very little break-in with more quality then synthetic leatherGame-ready gloveLonger break-in period but the glove will last longer
Great for youth players before later moving to a pigskin or leather gloveGame-ready gloveMid price pointLace will be full grain leather and thick cut
Lowest price pointPrice point is slightly higher than synthetic leather glovesPalm liner will be soft leather or deer skin

Bats

Flying screens

The four components of a Bat

Knob

  • Top portion of the bat that prevents the bat from slipping during a swing.


Handle + Shaft

  • The narrow area of a bat where the hands and fingers wrap around to control the bat's movement.


Barrel

  • The widest area of the bat where the ball makes contact.

  • The barrel also includes the sweet spot (The Sweet Spot is the section of the barrel that will generate the most pop when hitting a ball).



End Cap

  • Bottom of a bat


Types of Bats

Wood Bats- Wooden bats come in different types

  • Ash -Soft and lightweight, more porous wood

  • Maple - Hard, dense wood

  • Hickory - Harder and more dense then maple

  • Hickory - Harder and more dense then maple

  • Bamboo - Very durable and lightweight, closest equivalent to a metal bat


  • Batters should hit with the grain (turn the label facing up) to avoid breaking the bat upon contact

  • Wooden bats are less durable than alloy or composite bats


Aluminum Alloy Bats

  • Lighter than a wood bat of the same length

  • Larger sweet spot than wooden bats

  • Allows for a greater trampoline effect off of the bat - Trampoline effect is the elasticity of a bat upon impact with a baseball

  • Do not hit the ball with the bat in the same spot every time; rotate the barrel to increase the life of the bat


Composite Bats

  • Made from a combination of materials such as kevlar, fiberglass, nylon and carbon fibers

  • Fibers break in over time, causing the bat to perform better than wood or aluminum alloy with continued use

  • Bats made from composite materials have a large hitting surface with a more pronounced sweet spot

  • The velocities at which the ball rebounds off composite bats can pose a safety hazard to the pitcher - Due to balls being ejected at high speeds, composite bats are restricted in some leagues.



Weight Drop The weight drop is important for several reasons:

  • Higher weight drops (lighter bats) allows a player to swing a bat faster

  • Lower weight drops (heavier bats) allows a player to generate more power

  • Many leagues have restrictions on the allowable range of weight drops


Calculating Weight Drop

  • Weight drop is calculated as the weight of the bat (in ounces) minus the length of the bat (in inches)

  • For example: A bat that us 32 inches long weighing 20 ounces has a weight drop of -12 (20 - 32 = -12)


  • Weight drop will be identified on the bat

    In recent years, technology advances have enabled non-wood bats to outperform wood bats.
    BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) certification aims to even the playing field.

  • BBCOR is a measure of how much power a baseball bat can produce




  • The more a bat compresses after hitting a ball, the more energy the ball retains. Therefore, the more velocity the ball has when it comes off the bat - To be certified, a bat must have a BBCOR measure of .50 or lower and bear the "BBCOR Certified" logo.

  • The higher the BBCOR rating, the more power potential a bat has. As of January 1, 2012, BBCOR certification is required for all high school and collegiate bats. Note: Bats meeting only the Ball Exit Speed Ratio (BESR) standard will no longer be allowed during play.




  • Many leagues have limitations on bat size and/or weight drop, materials, and performance standards and certifications. It is important for the customer to double-check their league or association requirements before purchasing a bat



The most common baseball leagues are:

  • Tee Ball

  • Little League

  • Senior League

  • High School/College


Tee Ball - Tee ball bats are for children 5 to 7 years of age

  • The bat barrel is 2.25 inches in diameter

  • Bat lengths range from 24 inches to 26 inches


Little League - Little League bats are for children 7 to 12 years of age

  • Used in several types of youth leagues such as, Little League, Babe Ruth, Dixie Youth, PONY and the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC)

  • Bat barrel is 2.25 inches in diameter

  • Bat lengths range from 27 inches to 32 inches to reduce injury to children participating in Little Leagues


Performance Factor - (BPF) regulation has been implemented.

  • BPF - Measure of a non-wooden bat's performance relative to that of a wooden bat

  • Hitting a ball with a metal bat allows a ball to travel faster and harder than a wooden bat, possibly causing serious injury

  • Beginning in the 2009 season, all non-wooden bats used in Little League play and other smaller children's leagues must be stamped with a BPF rating of 1.15 or less to reduce chance of injury



Senior League - Senior League bats are for children 10 to 13 years of age.

  • The bat barrel is available in two sizes:
    2.625 (5/8) inches in diameter
    2.75 inches (called the Big Barrel)




  • Bat lengths range 28 to 32 inches


High School/College - High School/College bats are for ages 13 and older.

  • The bat barrel is 2625 (5/8) inches in diameter

  • Bat lengths range from 30 to 34 inches

  • Bat weight drop must be -3


Important note: As of January 1, 2012, BBCOR certification is required for all high school and collegiate bats.

Flying screens

Cleats

Academy carries a variety of baseball/softball cleats.
Every brand carried at Academy Sports + Outdoors has the same cleat components.

The main components include the following:

  • Uppers

  • Midsole

  • Outsole


The upper is the material that covers the top of the foot. - The three key components to the upper:

  • Style

  • Features

  • Materials


Style

Low Cut

  • The upper is geared toward the athlete wanting flexibility and comfort

  • Low cuts are not binding or restrictive and used more by speed position players

  • For example: Shortstops, base stealers, etc.


Mid Cut or 3/4 Cut

  • The upper offers ankle support and helps keep the foot stable


Tongue Flap

  • Keeps the tongue and laces in place during the course of a game

  • Flaps may be padded to offer extra cushioning and comfort


Materials

The material of an upper is usually selected for comfort, style and protection. Protection is an important feature of an upper to prevent dirt, sand, gravel and grass from entering the shoe.

Nylon/Mesh

  • A man-made material ideal for ultimate breathability

  • Nylon is known for its support during multi-directional movements


Synthetic Leather

  • A man-made synthetic material that is lighter and less expensive than leather

  • May be used in key areas of an upper for added support

  • Commonly used in the construction of an upper


Compressed Ethylene Vinyl Acetate (Comp EVA)

  • Comp EVA is the most commonly used material in the manufacturing of cleat midsoles

  • The material is compressed lightweight foam filled with air cells that can be molded or injected to form midsoles


Phylon

  • A lightweight material used exclusively on Nike cleats

  • It is compression resistant and provides extreme cushioning outsoles are designed to give the athlete traction on a variety of surface conditions.

  • For example: In wet field conditions, an outsole with deeper cleats may be recommended. In drier or firmer field conditions, an outsole with shorter or shallower cleats may be recommended.



Materials of Cleat

Solid Rubber

  • Solid rubber is widely used due to durability and affordability


Polyurethane (PU)

  • PU often has a softer and more comfortable feel


Thermoplastic Urethane (TPU)

  • Harder and more durable than PU

  • Lightweight and versatile for a variety of playing surfaces


Metal

  • Rigid and durable steel spikes offer excellent traction

  • Often used in high school, college and professional levels

  • Number of spikes varies from 5 to 9 spikes for various configurations.


Molded Cleats

  • Stable, strong and ideal for beginner and intermediate level players

  • Molded outsoles have non-removable hard plastic cleats formed on the bottom of the shoe

  • Molded cleats work well on harder turf surfaces


Metal

  • Metal cleats are often arranged in a triangular pattern to allow traction and maneuverability

  • Baseball is the only sport that allows the use of metal outsoles

  • They are geared towards higher level athletes and are usually prohibited in youth and amateur baseball/softball organizations


May I wear soccer cleats to play baseball or vise versa?

  • Even though both offer good traction, the cleats are shaped differently for their respective sports

  • Baseball/softball cleats have an extra cleat at the toe center to allow the player to make quick starts and takeoffs

  • Soccer cleats lack this extra cleat and may not provide a baseball player with the needed traction


May my child wear baseball cleats with metal outsoles?

  • Metal outsoles are usually prohibited in most youth and amateur baseball/softball organizations.

  • Although metal cleats are often used at the high school level and above, Academy recommends that the player check with their baseball league or coach before making a purchase.



May I wear baseball cleats to play softball?

  • Yes, baseball and softball cleats have similar features and benefits. However, before a purchase, ensure the use of metal cleats is allowed in the softball league.