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Opening Day Recap

Expect a lot out of WPW in the coming weeks—including a new design, updated profiles, some legit on-field content.  This should be our best year.  Thanks for the support and please continue to tell your teammates.  What I’ve learned in the first three seasons—the more traffic we get, the more access we get.  Win-win.

Mike Trout and Bryce Harper started off their season right.

(Bryce in Under Armour Igniter 2.0 Sunglasses swinging Chandler bats—either the YC52 or CB271.)

On that note, Chandler Bats just launched their website.  Looks very nice and should be a glorious day for those looking to swing Chandler.

Trout swings the Old Hickory MT27 (J143) Maple.

Fast friends Dustin Pedroia and Hanley Ramirez put on a show in their NBs.  Pedroia’s gold 4040v2s are majestic.  So were his matching moonshots.

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Hanley’s pair of jacks were of the pissrod variety, and his 4040v2s, like Pedey’s, are also fresher than yours.

@bharper3407 pants up dropping bombs on Opening Day with the @uabaseball Deception DT on the top left.

A photo posted by WhatProsWear.com (@whatproswear) on

UA Deception DT Cleats

Rene Rivera of the Tampa Bay #Rays rocking some filthy digi-camo by @allstarsportinggoods today. A photo posted by WhatProsWear.com (@whatproswear) on

All-Star Sporting Goods continues to flat-out bring it in the catching department.

Evoshield Elbow Guard

Kaenon Hard Kore Sunglasses 

Marucci Wood

Franklin Sports

Natural II Batting Gloves

Wilson A2000 Custom 1799

Under Armour Yard

madison-bumgarner-mizuno-gmp100-bk madison-bumgarner-mizuno-gmp100bk

Bumgarner dealt with his new Mizuno Pro Limited GMP100BK.  Read more about that one here.

Sonny Gray faced the minimum through 7 (no hits, no walks); more importantly, ABSURD SOCK GAME.  Try these.

Expect more from us this week, including WPW’s first regular season appearance, A’s vs Rangers tomorrow at the Coliseum.

Official Release of Robinson Cano’s New Balance 3000v2 Cleats

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Robinson Cano’s shift to New Balance cleats was first reported by @mache275 on Instagram and finally we’ve got the full spread for you.

These look a lot different than the 3000v2/4040v2 combo that Mache showed off last month:

via @mache275 (Mache Custom Kicks)

via @mache275 (Mache Custom Kicks)

I am irrationally and irreversibly in love with teal (thanks, Griff) so these are probably my favorite NB cleats ever.  Probably between these and Nick Swisher’s 4040v2s.

Robbie lost his grandfather recently which might explain the ribbons on the tongue.

Also notice the “Revlite RC” which does not refer to Cano’s initials, but “a higher density version of New Balance’s Revlite cushioning compound (which reduces weight but not level of cushioning).” (via wemakerunningcool.com)

UPDATE from New Balance’s Mark Clinard:

“Your explanation on the post of RevLite RC was correct.   It is a more responsive version of the REVLite foam compound.   We find it gives the player a firm and responsive ride (without any spike pressure) while also keeping it lightweight.  

One cool thing to note…the midsole actually houses two types of foam.  The area directly beneath the heel is our normal REVLite and it extends all the way down to the plate.  On the inline (retail) versions of the spike, you can see the cavity in the heel through the clear outsole plate.   The intent there is to maximize comfort with the cushioned ride of REVLite where you need it most.   The cushioning experience is very running shoe-esque.”

Between those two, which would you rock?

Shop the 3000v2 here.

First Look at Hanley Ramirez’ New Balance 4040v2 for 2015

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Hanley’s “Hanleywood” 4040s from his Dodger days were awesome, but New Balance took it to the next level with Hanley’s new Sox customs.

New Balance put to good use the Red Sox’ iconic font to personalize these 4040v2s for Hanley, with his first name on the insert and initial on the tongue.

Hanley likes the high ankle support as in years past, but I wonder, will that still apply in the outfield?

For me, as an outfielder, I would rather have low spikes because it makes me feel quicker and more agile.  I think that is more a preference than a rule, though.  What do you guys think?

And one more poll.  Do you like Hanley’s cleats with the Dodgers or Sox better?

Hanley's New Balance 4040 "Hanleywood" Cleats

Hanley’s New Balance 4040 “Hanleywood” Cleats for reference

 

Shop the 4040v2 here, and follow New Balance Baseball on Instagram and Twitter.

Get a Grip: Is the Axe Bat by Baden the Future of Hitting?

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Image Courtesy of the Louisville Slugger Museum

The most sacred, unparalleled element of baseball is its history.  In no other American sport can you trace the history of the game like this one.  If you were asked to name a pro baseball player who played 100+ years ago, you could probably name a few with ease (Ruth, Cobb, Shoeless Joe, Cy Young, Mathewson, Honus Wagner, Walter Johnson).  Ask that same question about football, hockey, or basketball, even to experts, and I doubt there’d be a correct answer if any at all.

But the history of baseball is a double-edged sword.  Where it links the past with the present, baseball rejects change.  The TRADITION vs. INNOVATION tug-of-war in baseball is so well-documented that there’s a Brad Pitt movie about it.


Lately, though, the traditions are being challenged.  Take the Lizard Skin bat wrap.  For a century and a half, pro hitters have desperately tried to figure out how to get the best grip.  Spit, pine tar, rosin, wax, golf gloves, batting gloves, medical tape, the Pro Hitter thumb aid, THEIR OWN URINE, and probably a few other things I don’t even know about.  Meanwhile, the 6 year olds playing T-Ball are getting along just fine with a rubber grip—the same type of grip used on hammers, bikes, shovels, brooms, pens, basically anything you need a good grip on, for like a million years.


Now, in less than two seasons, WPW conservatively estimates that 30% of the league uses or has used a Lizard Skin bat wrap, a grip much like those you’d find on T-Ball bats.

So why did it take so long for Lizard Skins to happen?  Probably one part machismo and one part tradition:  “Pro ballplayers don’t need Little League grips.”  “We’ve always used pine tar and peed on ourselves.”  Etc., etc.

Based on the scattered evolution of the bat grip and how quickly Lizard Skins have taken hold, it is my opinion (as a person who spends a lot of time looking at baseball equipment) that the baseball bat handle is a work in progress.  There are still improvements to be made.

U. Memphis uses Axe Bat exclusively.

U. Memphis uses Axe Bat exclusively.

Enter Baden Sports, who hit WPW up recently to introduce the concept of a new handle with some science behind it.  Based on a study done by a UCLA engineering professor and Ph. D, Dr. Vijay Gupta, the Axe bat handle…

1) …Is more comfortable
2) …Delivers a more efficient power transfer
3) …Increases bat speed through additional barrel acceleration
4) …Reduces hamate bone/ulnar nerve injuries and incidents of thrown bats

Baden sent me an MLB-certified Maple 271, and I have been swinging it for a couple of games.  Its very hard to say how I feel about it in such a short time, but I have other options and I’ve been using it because it feels good.  My hands feel comfortable and quick, and I’m making good contact at a relatively high rate so far.

As far as metal goes, I wanted to give you an expert opinion, so I consulted a D-1 team that swings Axe Bat exclusively, the San Jose State Spartans, to see what they thought.

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Dave Nakama – Head coach

What about the Axe bat compelled you to move away from the standard form?

“I think the obvious reason was because of my relationship with Rusty [Trudeau] and Baden Sports. He took a chance on us to use his bat and I was familiar with the bat from my time at the University of Washington, so I knew what it was about and I believed that it was a good concept, and that’s why we took a chance on the Axe Bat. They took a chance on us and we took a chance on the bat, and our guys like it.”

Do you think Axe bat technology will eventually be the standard?

“That’s a good question. I think baseball is one of the few sports that’s so traditional. Everybody is afraid of change in baseball, so that’s hard to say. I want to say that somebody will give it a shot in pro baseball and use it, but I don’t know if that will happen.”

axe-bat-handle

And what do the players think?

Andre Mercurio – Senior OF

What are your thoughts on the Axe bat?  Were you skeptical at first?

“At first I was definitely skeptical about the Axe Bat, swinging a round handle all my life. When someone brings something new into your life you’re going to be a little bit timid and you’re going to be a little bit like, ‘What is this? What are these people trying to sell me?’ Trying to recreate the wheel a little bit. It was tough to get used to it, but once you start swinging it – after your first round, your first five or six swings – you get comfortable and you feel a little bit more whippy. I feel, especially lately, once you learn how to hold the thing – which I’m not sure why I couldn’t figure out, because it’s really easy to hold it. Once you hold it right it’s really whippy in your hands and the barrel just flies through the extension part of the zone out front. I was definitely skeptical at first, but the bat has proved me wrong. The great part about the Axe Bats is each year they’ve gotten dramatically better. The first year they were like any other BBCOR bat – not very much pop. But last year and this year, the ball’s been flying off the bat. They’ve made huge improvements each year, even just in the way they look and definitely in the performance of them. I like swinging them a lot and I think it’s definitely contributed to my success.”

Do you think it’s made you a better hitter?

“I definitely think so. I think hitting is just about adjustments, and when they put that in your hands, you don’t have to make a big adjustment, but you have to realize the barrel might fly through the zone a little bit more so you have to be able to control it. There weren’t any major adjustments like it made me a different hitter. I think it definitely helps my hand speed and it definitely helps me drop the barrel on it, too, so I think that might help with a little bit of pop. I think it’s helped with my development as a hitter, for sure.”

Turtle Kuhaulua – Freshman INF/RHP

What are your thoughts on the Axe bat?  Were you skeptical at first?

“At first I was definitely skeptical. I didn’t really feel comfortable swinging the bat. But now I actually really like the bat, especially the white one. The white one fits my style so I like it a lot.”

How long does it take to get used to?

“It kind of just depends how you like your grip on the bat. Honestly, it took me a while because I really liked the round handle, but after a while I got used to it. It’s not too bad.”

Do you think it’s made you a better hitter?

“Possibly. I mean, a lot of things have made me a better hitter since this is my first year here, and the bat could be one of them. So yeah, it’s definitely possible.”

Some more facts on the Axe:

  • Other college programs using the Axe Bat this year include Memphis, USC Upstate at the Division I level, and nationally ranked Division III programs Marietta College of Ohio (#10) and Cal Lutheran (#8), among several others in Division II, III and NAIA.
  • Jimmy Rollins recorded the first Major League hit with an Axe Bat (the handle is MLB certified).
  • The Axe Bat was invented by a woodworker in upstate New York named Bruce Leinert, who said of his invention, “I looked at it as a tool to hit the ball, and I put the proper handle on it.”

What do you think?

 

To shop Axe Bats, go to AxeBat.com.

Or follow this link for more on the science behind Axe.

WPW at Spring Training: The World Champion San Francisco Giants

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So the one thing I didn’t really plan for when I went down to AZ—split squads.  Lots of guys missing.

I still was able to get some good shots of some gear worth talking about, so this is more of an abbreviated look at what some of the Giants are breaking in for 2015.

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Hector Sanchez with a saucy pair of NB 1500 trainers.

The Giants hauled a Keiser M3 stationary bike over to Hohokam (A’s) Stadium so Matt Cain could get his work in post-start.

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THE MOST REQUESTED PIECE OF GEAR IN WPW HISTORY, the All-Star Lace-On Wrist Guard (on Hector Sanchez’ mitt, and its AVAILABLE FINALLY.

Matt Duffy had a nice custom Wilson G4 (or G5) Superskin glove.

Pennant-Clinching Hero Travis Ishikawa swings the same cut as Mike Trout, the Old Hick J143M.

Juan Perez wore the Kaenon X-Kore sunglasses, which seem to fuse to the face, and a Slugger Pro Flare that we could not find.

gregor-blanco-rawlings-glove

You may have seen Gregor Blanco’s Rawlings Heart of the Hide PRO303-6GTM mesh masterpiece on our Instagram.  As far as we know, this is a Gregor Blanco exclusive.

Interestingly, a lot of great outfielders seem to implement the mesh to reduce the weight of the glove.  Even just that extra ounce or two can be the difference between a sno-cone web gem or a 2-run double.

Judging by the embroidery, Casey McGehee must have picked up some Japanese Mizuno leather during his season abroad with the Rakuten Golden Eagles.

omnisense-real-time-data-program

The Giants trainers use a fitness tracking software called OmniSense, which reads information from a “BioHarness” around an athlete’s chest and is just really bad-ass:

“The Software was initially designed in partnership with NASA and US Special Operations to give immediate feedback on the health and condition of a human being under stressful situations and has been adapted for including support for training optimization based on feedback from researchers and several professional sports trainers.”

Check out more info on OmniSense here.

brandon-crawford-louisville-slugger-s318-bat

Crawdaddy still rockin’ the Nike MVP Elite 3/4 cleats long after they’ve been discontinued.  He must love ‘em.

Also notice the Louisville Slugger S318 lumber (link to old M9 label, same wood), Lizard Skin Grip, and Nike MVP Elite Pro 2 batting gloves.

First Look at CJ Wilson’s New Balance 3000v2 Customs

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CJ Wilson has been with New Balance since before it was cool (below from 2011), and the Boston company that’s giving Nike a run for their money has returned that loyalty.


 

For 2015, CJ has his own clean gold accented home & away pair of the New Balance 3000v2.  Check them out below.

Thanks to New Balance Baseball for the photography.  Shop the 3000v2 here.

WPW at Spring Training: Kansas City Royals

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The American League Champion Kansas City Royals were short a few guys (Hosmer, Gordon, Guthrie, Cain) but did not lack for “estilo.”

In Kansas City, the Rawlings cup runneth over.

Alcides Escobar’s Rawlings PROPL217JB was most esteemed and Jarrod Dyson’s Mesh might be the one I’d most like to play with, but that Bubba Starling PRO303HC2T in Mocha won the beauty pageant for me.

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Ryan Roberts won the award for “Glove Most Likely to Smell Bad.”  Thing was mangy.

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Your favorite?

Some notables in this gallery:

Evoshield Digi Camo used to its utmost potential.

Dove Tail Bats getting a look from a few teams that I saw while in AZ.  Has a nice menu of pro models on its site at $75-$105 (I looked briefly).

Max Bat with fancy stickers.

Ryan Roberts with some woodland camo Oakleys.

Omar Infante swings an R205 profile Slugger which we traced as far back as Reds greats Barry Larkin and Eric Davis.

On a related note, I wish bat companies would stop letting guys name their own models and stick to the original numbers set forth by the Godfather of Lumber (who was just acquired by Wilson Sporting Goods), Louisville Slugger.  That way WPW can better trace the lineage of bats and in 50 years we can say the AL MVP of 2065 “swings the same bat as the great Mike Trout.”

Speaking of changing the names of bat profiles, we saw our first Louisville Slugger DJ2, the new namesake of the historic P72 profile.  Royals hopeful Ryan Jackson was swinging it.

Omar Infante looked like a football player doing his stutter steps pre-game.

A couple of odds and ends, Hilltopper Clay by Stabilizing Solutions is the choice of Rockies and DBacks grounds crew at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick.

BatTar Up by Markwort Grip Enhancer

A few sets of custom kicks:

Jarrod Dyson’s Huarache Pro

Terrance Gore’s adidas Power Alley 2

Omar Infante’s New Balance 3000v2

Which would you rock?