There's a revolution going on in baseball, and reading this means you are a part of it. Like "Moneyball" for your feet, performance footwear is better than ever and the ballplayer is getting the benefit. Up until recently, the majority of players had two choices— flap-over Nikes that looked like the spikes
Dustin Pedroia x New Balance 3000 Low
Pedroia wears an exclusive version of the NB 3000 with his very own player logo. Brighton-based New Balance lifted much of the cleat's technology from their well-established running line, so what you get is a comfortable, versatile and lightweight (12.5 oz) metal cleat. Pedroia's 3000s also incorporate the biggest design trend in the MLB, MARPAT or "digital camo" as its become known.
Pedroia epitomizes the win-at-all-costs "Gamer" that we all should aspire to be, but he still scores style points, and as you'll see in the coming slides, even the business-like players have trashed the blandness of the old days in favor of flashy colors and bold design.
Adam Jones x Nike Air Swingman Remix 2 / Swingman MVP
Adam Jones is MLB's dress code Enemy #1, routinely opting for flamboyant choices, including Tiger print and irresponsible use of camo, banned by the league office. And for this reason, we can't get enough.
The Swingman apparel line was inspired by Ken Griffey, Jr., and like Junior, the current Swingman roster has no shortage of swagger. Aside from Jones, players like Andrew McCutchen, Ryan Braun, and Jason Heyward currently wear the Nike sub-brand. The Remix 2 and MVP are both descendants of cleats that Griffey scaled walls with and they continue to fill up highlight reels to this day.
Miguel Cabrera x New Balance 3000 Mid
Like Pedroia, Triple Crown Winner and undisputed "Best Hitter on Earth" Miguel Cabrera has an exclusive contract with New Balance, the brand that treats all their contract guys to a personal touch on the tongue (also see Zobrist, Hanley Ramirez, Johan Santana). What's also notable is that Miggy has mixed in a 2000 at times, the MCS (plastic) version of this style. I asked around because I couldn't figure out why a pro would go for "beer-leaguer" plastic cleats. As it turns out, some players feel that in a grueling 162-game season, the wear and tear on the joints with metal is greater than plastic, so some are opting to sacrifice grip in exchange for a more forgiving daily grind.
If I was your cleat doctor and you played a regular amateur schedule, I'd still prescribe metal. Especially considering you probably don't have a professional grounds crew in charge of keeping the field soft and consistent. The traction an MLB infielder sacrifices on that luxurious clay is probably negligible, whereas my high school field was like running on dusty cement. In those conditions, plastics are useless.
Robinson Cano x Nike MVP Elite 3/4
Despite the competition, Nike is, and will always be, one of the most innovative and popular brands in baseball. The Nike MVP Elite 3/4 is a top choice among the best players, and Robbie Cano's classy black/white go great with pinstripes. As a Yankee its always better to keep it simple.
Andrew McCutchen x Nike Air Swingman MVP 2
In this week's All Star game, when Cutch stole second base wearing these glowing PEs, he stole the show as well. The entire game was a runway event for brands to showcase their latest technologies, the flashier the better. For me, McCutchen's Swingman MVP 2 won the pageant. The neck-snapping yellow leather with the blue ChromaFlair plate made me wish I played for Michigan. Nike hasn't mentioned a release date on these, but let's hope we see them sooner than later (NIKEiD?).
Brandon Phillips x Under Armour Natural II Low ST
My favorite UA style, the Natural II has had staying-power around the Bigs for its handsome look and low profile. Phillips has always been a stylish player, and Under Armour goes to great lengths to keep it that way. At times, Phillips also wears the Spine Low, but the Natural IIs aren't infused with UA's keystone technology. Lets face it, though, the technology on these still looks pretty good.
Matt Harvey x Nike Max Air Gamer ID
For when he is wearing clothes, Harvey customized himself a couple pairs of Gamers that Nike has graciously made re-available on NIKEiD.com. As far as Harvey's go, you can customize to his specs (see here for those) or customize your own. There are 12 customizable options, which is a big reason you'll see a lot of non-contract guys in the Bigs wearing these. With the Gamers, you don't need a deal to get your own shoe.
5 / 8 CWS Teams This Year x adidas adizero 5-Tool 2.5
Ok, so I bent the rules on this one, but there are probably some future superstars in that group, don't you think?
From adidas: "The lightest mid-cut metal cleat on the diamond at just 10.6 oz., this special edition adizero 5-Tool 2.5 features adidas Spotlight technology, which utilizes reflective synthetic material to illuminate under direct light. When the lights get bright, stand out on the diamond."
Basically, if you shined a light on these cleats, they'd shine back. An expansion of the term "light-footed." Adidas grabbed some attention during the CWS where guys on both finalists, Mississippi State and UCLA, wore these.
Bryce Harper x Under Armour Natural II Low
Spine Tech from Under Armour, like New Balance's cleat, is borrowed from their running shoes as a way to give a lightweight shoe the necessary structure to perform while being comfortable and agile. Bryce Harper has already shown his jailbreak style of play, and these cleats handle the rigors.
Bryce is also the first player we've ever known to wear a hybrid cleat, fitted with metals for the front foot and plastic cleats for the heel. This innovation softens the impact while running the bases without sacrificing too much explosiveness for the critical first step, both on the bases and in the outfield. Even at the young age of 20, Bryce is already baseball's style icon, so I wouldn't be surprised if you saw more of these hybrids popping up in coming seasons.
Mike Trout x Nike Air MVP Pro
Speaking of phenoms, in 2012, Trout filled up the box score like no other rookie in game history. He can beat you with power, speed, or defense on any given night— baseball's Swiss Army knife— so it's fitting that Trout's cleats are a custom fusion of Nike technology. Nike and Trout blended the MVP Pro, the Diamond Elite Fly (in a textured mesh), the heel of the Swingman MVP, and a Huarache-style toe into one of the lightest and most lethal cleats in the game today weighing in at less than 12 oz. They fit no one better than the cold-blooded Trout.