A baseball glove is one of the most important pieces of equipment that a baseball player utilizes on the field. It is literally an extension of the player’s hand and without it, the player would be constantly exposed to danger due to the intense nature of the game.
Baseball science has determined that balls can bounce off the bat at an exit velocity of 120 Miles Per Hour. Players in the field must be alert and constantly ready to place themselves in harm’s way, and their equipment is the first line of defense.
In particular, the baseball glove empowers the player, though he cannot feasibly use it in every situation. It is critical that he wear a glove made from high-quality materials that offers maximum protection and allows him to be dynamic during the flow of the game.
Here we will review a baseball glove made by the company Rawlings called the Renegade Series. It is specifically designed to support the first baseman and is shaped more like a mitten, which is why it is typically called a mitt.
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Initially, we will cover the basics and terminology associated with purchasing a first baseman mitt. Then, we will discuss the pros and cons of this specific mitt made by Rawlings. Lastly, we will discuss the company Rawlings more generally, as well as compare this specific product to others on the market, finally offering our judgment on the value of the Renegade Series first baseman mitt.
What is a Baseball Glove?
A baseball glove is a leather, padded covering worn on the hand that allows defensive baseball players to catch and field various balls. The most distinguishing characteristic of a baseball glove is the particular hand it is worn on, which is opposite the throwing hand of the player. If a player throws with his left hand, then he will wear the glove on his right hand, and vice versa.
Additionally, gloves are distinguished by the quality of their material, the depth of their pocket, the durability of their shape, how much they have been broken in before being purchased, and most importantly, by which position they are being utilized for.
While each player is unique in his preferences, there are several factors that are generally acknowledged as distinguishing higher-quality gloves from lower-quality ones.
First, higher-quality gloves are typically made from heavier, more expensive leather and take more time to break in. This means that a player can shape the glove to fit the particular contours and movements of his hand, which gives him greater comfort, flexibility, and performance while on the field.
The dimensions of the glove are also an important factor, and usually range in size from 9 inches to 13 inches, measured by the length from the index finger to the heel of the glove. These dimensions are also contingent upon the position, as a catcher requires a much longer mitt than a first baseman, who typically requires a 12.5-inch or 12.75-inch length mitt.
The mitts used by the first baseman usually lack compartments for each finger to sit in, which is why they are called mitts. These specialized mitts are much longer and wider than other gloves because the first baseman must frequently catch wildly thrown balls from other players on the field.
What Makes Rawlings’ Renegade Series Unique?
Rawlings makes a line of first baseman mitts that are called the Renegade Series. This series comes in either an 11.5-inch or 12.5-inch length as well as either a left-hand or right-hand variety. They range in price anywhere from $44 to $54 depending on the dimensions.
This is a mitt made from only leather that features a lightweight mesh exterior to provide balance, durability, and shape retention. It includes a high-density cushioned palm and pads situated around the index finger to help absorb any kind of shock that a first baseman might experience during play. The pocket for fielding the ball is extremely deep on this mitt to help mitigate errant throws from other infielders, which is quite common when playing first base.
This mitt has been mostly broken in by Rawlings and requires the player to finish breaking in the final 10% of the mitt. Rawlings does this by pre-oiling the mitt so that the player can begin using it immediately. This makes the mitt perfect for recreational play or slow-pitch play.
This mitt is relatively lightweight even when compared to the most expensive mitts on the market. Players that prefer a lightweight feel will love this mitt as they will not feel bogged down during play.
Of the 116 reviews of this mitt on Amazon, almost 90% of users have given the mitt four or five stars. Most laud the mitt for its quality, comfort, and durability which is unparalleled in the industry at its price point. The most common demographic that uses this mitt is younger players playing in lower-level leagues, typically anywhere from 8 years old to 12 years old.
What Are Some Cons of Rawlings’ Renegade Series?
This mitt might not be perfect for an older or more advanced player looking for a higher-quality mitt that could be better adapted to his hand. This mitt has already been broken in and the player would lose significant control over this element if purchasing the Renegade Series.
This makes Rawlings Renegade Series fine for instant usage, but not ideal for competitive settings in which every nicety of the equipment influences the performance of the player. Some higher-quality mitts allow the player as much as 90% control over breaking in the mitt. Players who utilize these mitts are interested in using them in the future and do not need to use them immediately.
In addition, even though this mitt is made from all leather, there have been recent developments in the market for first baseman mitts that feature more durable and flexible material. For example, some mitts utilize kip skin leather which is described as impeccable and allowing the formation of the “perfect pocket”.
These higher-quality mitts even feature additional materials in the mitt such as a sheepskin lining that helps wick moisture away during high-intensity performance. This is crucial when playing on hot summer days as your hand can get very sweaty when it is inside a mitt for extended periods of time. This might influence your accuracy and precision when fielding balls as well as your comfort. Rawlings Renegade Series lacks these additional materials and consequently does not provide as much ventilation, comfort, or flexibility during play.
The leather that the Renegade Series uses is also a cheaper leather and will not last more than a couple of seasons, whereas some leather is made to last for as long as 10 years, even a lifetime. Some reviewers commented that while the Renegade Series mitt is perfectly functional, it would not be ideal for playing in more competitive play.
Several customers have complained that the webbing can break on the Renegade Series mitt during its first season of usage. While it’s hard to ascertain how much these imperfections were due to human error or a stray manufacturing defect, it’s still a telling indication that this mitt is not the best quality available.
What is the Public Perception of Rawlings
Rawlings is lauded highly in the sports industry as one of the most reliable manufacturers of equipment. They specialize in baseball equipment but also produce gear for softball, football, and basketball players in addition to more general training equipment.
The company has a rich history of innovation and was founded in 1887, so they have over a hundred years of experience making equipment for baseball players. They are the most utilized company in Major League Baseball when it comes to gloves and they are best known as the official supplier of baseballs for the major leagues, in addition to producing many balls for other leagues.
This is significant because it means that players that use the company’s glove will also likely be using the company’s ball during play, and the two will have a kind of complementary relationship that will subtly optimize the performance of the player. It’s always better when a company is an expert at producing equipment for many facets of a sport because this more holistic wisdom bleeds into every part of their process and informs each piece of equipment.
Essentially, when buying a glove from Rawlings, you can be assured you are receiving a tool that has been designed with every aspect of the game in mind, so much so that it is trusted by professionals.
How Does Rawlings’ Renegade Series Compare to Other First Baseman Mitts?
In this section, we break down how the Renegade Series from Rawlings compares to first baseman mitts offered by other companies.
Mizuno’s GXF102 First Baseman Mitt
Mizuno makes a very similar mitt for first basemen called the GXF102 that costs $49. It also comes pre-oiled and ready for instant use, though it might require some initial breaking in.
The specific leather that Mizuno uses is called java leather which is a soft cowhide leather. This is a slighter higher quality leather than the material used by Rawlings and is more durable and flexible. Many reviewers have commented that this mitt is the most comfortable mitt they have ever worn.
Wilson’s A200 First Baseman Mitt
Wilson makes a much more expensive mitt called the A200 that costs $149. This mitt is geared towards younger players with a more advanced game.
Wilson’s mitt uses pro-stock leather which is viewed as one of the best kinds of leather available for baseball mitts. This kind of leather is only slightly broken in by Wilson, which allows the players more control over the eventual formation of the mitt. It also means that the mitt is not instantly ready for play, which could be problematic for players looking to use their equipment immediately.
Furthermore, this mitt features dual welting which helps the mitt maintain its composure over the course of many seasons. It also gives the mitt more flexibility during play. This means that if you purchase this mitt, you might not have to purchase another one for many years.
Rawlings’ Heart of the Hide First Baseman Mitt
It is a much more customizable glove and has only been broken in 30% of the way by the factory. It is also much heavier and features a fur interior for maximum comfort.
This mitt ranges from $229 to $249 depending on what hand you wear it on. It is ideal for only the most serious of players.
What We Think About Rawlings’ Renegade Series
After considering all the pros and cons of the Renegade Series, as well as the numerous options from competitors, we think Rawling’s mitt is perfect if you are looking for a dependable mitt on a budget.
If you are looking for something slightly more advanced, then this mitt is not for you. Rawlings and Wilson make higher-quality mitts that are more expensive and allow for increased control over how the mitt is broken in.
These mitts also feature better quality leather that will last longer. If you are looking for a mitt that will only last several seasons, then Rawling’s Renegade will be perfect for you. If, however, you want something that will last 10 years or longer, then you should go with a more expensive mitt.
Lastly, Rawlings Renegade series is perfect if you do not care about controlling how the mitt is broken in and want to use the mitt right out of the box. If, however, you want the mitt to be shaped to the contours and niceties of your hand, then you should go with a more expensive mitt that has not been pre-oiled.
Overall, this mitt will surely satisfy lower-level and mid-level first basemen for at least several seasons of play.