Whenever you play on the baseball field, wearing the right type of shoe is essential. This is also true for most sports. You cannot just put on any pair of footwear and expect to be safe all the time on the field. Since the game is played on dirt and grass or turf, the shoes should be able to provide better traction, facilitate change of direction when running with ease, and improve performance on these surfaces. The best baseball cleats give excellent grip while offering comfort and protection to the wearer.
There are various types of cleats, the most common of which are metal cleats, molded cleats, and turf shoes. They each serve different functions. But the most popular and favorite among baseball players are the molded cleats.
Plastic Baseball Cleats
A baseball molded cleat is a shoe that has spikes or studs on the sole. These cleats are made of plastic or rubber. The cleats help baseball players achieve stability while moving, running, or changing direction on baseball field surfaces. Molded cleats used to be more popular among just youth baseball players as they offer protection while sliding and running bases. In recent times, however, more athletes in the upper levels of the sport, including high school, college, and professional, have begun to use molded cleats.
There is a significant difference between rubber and plastic cleats. Rubber cleats typically feature grooves and small protrusions in the middle of the sole or around the edges of the sole for soft rubber studs. Plastic cleats, on other hand, have few to no grooves at the same spot. They do have thick, hard plastic studs at the edge of the sole.
Wearing molded cleats offer several benefits. They are quite comfortable, even after using them for a very long time. Molded cleats also provide better protection to other players because the materials used for the spikes are not as stiff or hard as other alternatives.
Below, we compare molded cleats to other types of cleats.
How to Choose Baseball Cleats?
Molded Vs. Metal Baseball Cleats
Metal cleats are still the cleats of choice of most professional baseball players and offer some advantages that molded baseball cleats do not have. However, they have disadvantages as well.
Metal cleats are equipped with thin, sharp, and strong pieces of metal at the sole of the shoes. These metal spikes cause the shoes to dig deeper into the ground. Thus, metal cleats provide better traction. It is important to note, though, that molded cleats allow players to easily change their direction when running compared to metal cleats. You can also hit the ground running more efficiently with molded cleats because they do not dig as deep as metal cleats.
Molded cleats are made of plastic or rubber, whereas metal cleats, as the name suggests, are made of metal. The metal used in these cleats is usually made of steel because of the alloy’s hardness, toughness, and ability to withstand other elements. Certain baseball leagues, particularly the younger levels, do not allow metal cleats because they can be dangerous.
Players need to take their positions into consideration before picking the ideal material of baseball cleats. Metal cleats are ideal for infielders because they play on soft dirt. Meanwhile, molded cleats are better choices for outfield players.
When it comes to picking the best baseball cleats, durability is an important factor to consider. This is because baseball generally requires equipment and you want yours to be long-lasting, more so your shoes or cleats. Metal cleats are great choices for a hard surface, but they wear out really fast and they can feel uncomfortable on your feet, especially if the game is taking longer to finish. Baseball molded cleats do not do so well on hard a surface, but they are generally more durable.
Parents also have to consider how fast their children’s body, especially the feet, is growing. If the child is experiencing a phase of growth, it is better to buy molded cleats instead.
Safety and Approval
Safety is a major concern in youth baseball, parents and guardians want to ensure that their kids are safe on the field. For this reason, when deciding between a metal vs. molded baseball cleat, most athletes opt for the latter during practice rounds or matches. Molded baseball cleats are by far safer and they provide better ankle support and traction, which could help protect their wearers during competitive games.
Use Outside the Field
Since baseball cleats are made of spikes, some people may want to use it on surfaces other than a baseball field. It is feasible but certain factors should be considered. For instance, not all types of baseball cleats are practical for usage on all kinds of surfaces. Cleats that are molded will provide better stability on soft surfaces like the lawn in a park.
Metal cleats, on the other hand, will allow players to have better performance on a much harder surface. However, we do not recommend using metal cleats for casual purposes as they could be cumbersome to wear and make uncomfortable noises.
Customize Your Baseball Cleats
While baseball cleats with molded spikes tend to be the ideal option for many players, their metal counterparts are a lot pricier, and for good reasons. In addition to providing more stability on the ground, metal cleats also provide improved traction. Moreover, the materials used in constructing metal cleats are also more costly. Given all these details, it is understandable that the pricier option is metal cleats.
An increasingly popular practice in baseball and other sports is to wear shoes with interchangeable cleats. Many players are adopting this practice because it allows for more versatility. Since the cleats are only screwed on, players can unscrew them to switch to either molded baseball cleats or metal cleats depending on the field condition as well as the rules of the league.
When it comes to men’s molded baseball cleats, as well as metal cleats, it is worth noting that different brands offer varying benefits. There are several major brands that manufacture both molded and metal cleats, and these include Nike, New Balance, Adidas, Puma, Mizuno, and more. However, many players have claimed that the best baseball cleats are Nike molded baseball cleats.
Molded Baseball Cleats Vs. Turf Shoes
Turf shoes and molded baseball cleats are quite similar. An essential difference between the two is that while molded baseball cleats have long spikes, turf shoes do not. Instead of baseball spikes, there are grooves, patterns, grips, or bumps on the outsoles of turf shoes that also provide traction.
Here, we are going to thoroughly compare the most important attributes of these two types of shoes.
Comparing the two kinds of baseball cleats in terms of traction boils down to the type of pitch the shoes will be used on. For natural grass and ground surfaces, the more ideal choice is molded baseball cleats. Turf shoes, on the other hand, provide better traction and help improve the change of direction on artificial turf. Furthermore, the extra ankle support provided by turf shoes offers more comfort and stability in-game.
As long as you keep them in good condition, both shoes can prove durable and long-lasting. Molded cleats for baseball are known lasting several seasons as long as they are maintained properly. The rubber or plastic studs also offer sound absorption to the user, making the molded cleats comfortable to wear for a long span of time. The same can be said for turf shoes, whose rubber outsoles also provide stability to the wearer even after heavy use.
Comparing the prices of molded cleats and turf shoes is not as straightforward as it seems. This is because the two baseball shoes have fundamentally different purposes or applications. Much more than the price tag, what you have to consider more are your requirements or where you are going to play. On a natural surface, molded cleats should be used. On artificial turf, cleats would also provide to be advantageous, but turf shoes are the better options.
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Use Outside the Field
While using turf shoes outside a baseball field can be more comfortable than wearing molded cleats, or even metal cleats for that matter, it is not recommended to do so. Using them on hard grounds, such as concrete, can weaken the sole and negatively impact their effectiveness on the turf. The same can be said for even the best baseball cleats. Molded cleats should only be worn on a baseball field, or another similar ground.
Both molded cleats and turf shoes are safer compared to metal cleats. Molded cleats, like turf shoes, have a softer sole and extensions that can help protect players from injuries when sliding or running on a baseball ground. Some also believe that the best youth baseball shoes are turf shoes because they are snugger on the feet and they feel more comfortable on the ground.
However, you should remember that you and your child should only wear sports shoes on surfaces where they are intended to be played on. For example, if you are playing on natural turf or ground, you should wear metal or molded cleats. Wearing even the best baseball turf shoes on such surfaces can cause injuries, including toe injuries or ankle sprains, because of the lack of support for the feet.
Best Field Type
As already mentioned, turf shoes are best suited for artificial or synthetically groomed turf. You can get all the traction you need with such shoes when playing on this type of surface. However, because these surfaces lack depth, molded cleats cannot work well on them.
Can You Wear Molded Cleats on Artificial Turf?
Simply put, you can wear molded baseball cleats on artificial turf. However, we advise against it. Because it is shallower than natural ground or grass, molded cleats have less length to dig into. You would not gain enough traction and it could lead to accidents or, worse, injuries.
Are molded cleats better for turf?
Yes, molded baseball cleats are better for natural turf because they offer sufficient traction and increased performance while also providing the wearer the ability to switch directions and start running quickly when needed.
Can baseball cleats be used for football?
For a casual game or training, baseball cleats may be used for football. However, even the best youth or professional-level baseball cleats cannot offer football players enough protection, especially when they bang bodies with their opponents. Thus, even the best baseball cleats should be avoided when playing competitive football.
Now that you know the differences between the different types of baseball shoes, the choice of what to buy is yours. What you have to consider the most is the type of surface the game will be played on and your position. Between metal vs. molded baseball cleats, you would have to think about whether you will be playing in the infield or outfield. Meanwhile, if you are playing on artificial turf, you might want to store away your molded cleats and use turf shoes instead.