My Favorite Baseball Cleats

A short while ago I had to retire my baseball cleats. I play at third and different outfield positions, and my cleats were no longer holding together snugly around my feet. Baseball requires footwork in most every play and at bat, so I wanted to treat myself to a better paid than I had.

After conducting online research and going down to the store to try them on, I decided on the Nike Men’s Lunar Vapor Trout Metal Baseball Cleats. I’ve had them for a few weeks now, and they fit as snugly and are as comfortable as when I first put them on. I had plastic cleats before, and especially on the infield the dirt caked up a lot in the cleats, and I had to clean them a lot. The bottom plate of these cleats is metal and independent of the upper of the shoe, so not only do I clean dirt off them a lot less, but their lighter weight helped to improve my footwork.

A big shoe company like Nike has gotten a lot of praise as well as criticism. Their products are often on the cutting edge and they take risks, often with great results, but they’ve had negative feedback for some products that didn’t meet customer expectations.  Poor design or wearing discomfort have been top complaints. The Flightposite 3, for example, was way off the mark, and downright ugly to some, and the Total Air Foamposite Max, which blends parts of other shoe designs (but makes no sense as a whole in either style or function), is now found on discount clearance racks.

One expects to see companies like Nike hype up products just before putting them out on the market so they’ll have brisk sales. Not all of their cleats have been perfect or even in the top 5. So with this line of cleats, before hitting the market, Nike asked Mike Trout of the LA Angels to try them out and report back what he loved and didn’t love about them. Based on his feedback, they changed the material used on the upper, as well as the heel and the metal plate underneath until he gave it 100% approval.  It’s become one of their best selling cleats since then.

What to Look For in a Baseball Cleat

All the movement you make either as a pitcher, an infielder or outfielder, is done with your feet inside of cleats. With all the footwork required to play this position, baseball cleats need to be flexible and give you great traction, no matter what the condition of the field. They need to give good foot and ankle support to avoid injuries like sprains.

When I buy baseball cleats, I look to see how well they’re constructed and how much ankle support they give me. Aside from those, the cleat needs to feel comfortable when I’m wearing them. If they fit snug and are reinforced in the heel and the sole, I won’t be sore the next day from running after the baseball in them.

Construction: Look for either real leather or the best synthetic leather upper to wear around the top and sides of your feet. Synthetic leather is less expensive, but it gives me extra support at the front and middle of my feet and ankles.  Always get the best cleats you can afford, but remember:  inexpensive cleats that don’t feel comfortable aren’t worth it.

Ankle Support: I’ve tried low and mid-top cleats, because I like how fast I can over with low tops and mid tops. With low tops, moving from side to side is much less restricted than with high top cleats. I gravitate for cleats that will give me great lateral movement and the ability to sprint, but at the same time support my ankles.

Metal or Plastic Cleats: Most plastic cleats are permanently affixed to the sole of the shoe. They’re strong, stable and can be worn on most any surface, including concrete and asphalt, and won’t wear down. Typically, plastic cleats are less expensive than metal and last longer than metal, but they don’t grip the surface they’re used on as well as metal cleats.

On the other hand, metal cleats provide the best traction because they dig into the hard dirt found on infields and on grass. You get the grip you need to sprint towards a speeding grounder or when fielding a pop fly in the wind.  They’re great for building a toe hold in the batter’s box, too, so you can hit without slipping. They’re better at gripping the ground than plastic cleats, generally speaking.

What Does the Nike Lunar Vapor Trout Metal Baseball Cleats Bring to the Table?

I watched a video that showed Mike Trout talking about the cleats, and what changes they made to bring it more to his liking, and in the process I learned about how cleats are made, and what new approaches Nike did with this particular model.

Mike Trout plays for the Dodgers at center field, and one of the things he likes about his namesake cleats is that he doesn’t pick up clumps of outfield grass with them. I’m an infielder and I love the traction of these Nike cleats, and how sure-footed it feels on the infield dirt.

Trout praised the comfort of the cleats, and I’m in complete agreement with him. They’re extremely lightweight, but there’s no reduction in the support I have because they’re lighter. Sprinting is easy and there’s no clunkiness to the shoe. The lighter the shoe, the faster you are. All in all, it’s very snug around the feet, and feels just right. I especially like the extra padding in the arches for greater support. 

Nike calls the heel support “lunar foam cushioning,” and aside from “lunar”, I get what they mean. The foam cushioning really makes a difference in the feel around my heels.  This Nike product is especially praised in general because it fits to size almost perfectly. I’m a size 11 and a half, and I tried them on in that size, and it fit exactly right.

These Nike Lunar Vapor Trout cleats use something called “dynamic flywire”, which is actual wiring inside the shoe’s upper which goes from just beneath the laces and down into the metal plate underneath at bottom. I guess that explains why they’re so snug and comfortable around the top of my feet. That along with their light weight makes it seem like it’s an extension of my foot instead of something I put on around my feet.

What I found really impressive with this shoe is that the bottom plate where the cleats is not molded to the upper, but is independently constructed. This makes the cleat incredibly responsive when I pivot and move laterally in general. It’s responsive, kind of like a car’s suspension is supposed to be.

How Does the Nike Lunar Vapor Trout Model Compare in Terms of Cost?

I always hear the common catchphrase, “I thought I’d pay X dollars for this product but was shocked to see how inexpensive it was!” and so on. So, how do I relate that I was personally surprised and elated that I didn’t need to spend hundreds on a cleat that was so well put together as this one, without sounding like a cliché? Depending on the style, you spend anywhere from $35 to $90 for a pair of these Nike cleats. It really is much cheaper than I would have thought!

To summarize, here’s some more details about the cleat:

  • Synthetic leather upper leather upper for tighter fit.
  • “Dynamic flywire” maintain a secure and snug around the upper body of the shoe.
  • “Lunarlon” foam midsole and heel for impact tremor absorption.
  • 9 -cleat configuration gives better traction than other cleats.