Fielder’s Choice: A Look at the Rise of Player Exclusives in the MLB

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Air Jordan 11 CC Sabathia “200th Win” PE Cleats

Jordan Brand may have been a bit ahead of the game, but other brands have caught on. In terms of number of athletes sponsored, Nike dominates basketball courts. On the other hand, the sponsorship varies in professional baseball. The niche market allows for a diversity of brands. For perspective, the NBA has approximately 450 players. Only one player in the NBA, San Antonio Spurs forward Matt Bonner, has a New Balance contract. That is .2% of the entire league. Conversely, MLB has approximately 750 players, and 259 of them sport New Balance cleats. That is about 35% of the league rocking the vaunted “N”. One of the leagues most highly touted  young stars of all-time, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, is signed to Under Armour. What does this mean? The diversity of brands allow more opportunities to bring attention to their product by lacing their athletes with eye-grabbing exclusive cleats. Under Armour paid homage to mothers everywhere with a special pack of pink baseball cleats for their players to wear on Mother’s Day this year. New Balance released a combination pack that included two commemorative sneakers and two commemorative cleats to celebrate the 2013 MLB All-Star Game, and its return to New York. Even Jordan Brand created a celebratory pair of cleats for C.C. Sabathia’s 200th victory. Brands are constantly looking for ways to distinguish their product in a possibly flooded market. The range of brands increases competition, which results in more intriguing cleats. The goal is to transition them from a mere uniform accessory to a conversation piece. Saying that, baseball players do not wear sneakers, so do special cleats even matter?

Under Armour “Mother’s Day” Cleats

Our Sneak Peek series takes us into the closets of celebrities and athletes. One of the more surprising tours host George Kiel received was from Kansas City Royals pitcher Jeremy Guthrie. Guthrie does not have an extensive sneaker closet. Instead, Guthrie has a temperature controlled sneaker vault. Within his collection, he has sneakers that he converted into spikes that can actually be used in games. He also hinted at other kicks he would like to play in. Also, Nike Baseball joined Instagram just over a month ago proving that they understand the importance of placing product in from of clients. As we know, Instagram is based on images. Run of the mill cleats will not garner the attention they desire. It is not unreasonable for one to assume Nike will come up with even more exclusive cleats.

Can fans play in the baseball cleats of their favorite players like they can of their favorite basketball players? Not yet. Even professionals are not on the diamond 24 hours a day, and the season is not 365 days a year. There are offseason and off-field opportunities to capitalize on concerning the increasing popular of PE baseball cleats. As we said previously, the Nike Air Max 360 Swingman “Camo” was made in the vein of its cleated counterpart. We see no reason why this trend will not see an uptick, and we are ready for it.

Air Jordan 3 Cleat PE from Jeremy Guthrie’s Collection

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