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Modern baseball cleats come in a great range of styles, colors, and designs ~ presenting choices for almost everything including which type of spikes you’ll play on. We felt a need to break down cleat models by what’s underneath, and with that present our insight into the best metal cleats for upcoming seasons.
Knowledgeable baseball people know that each seasons brings new cleat models, features, technological gizmos, and other advancements in this realm of the sporting goods industry. That certainly applies to metal baseball cleats starting in 2023.
We researched a number of brands, and then their newer models that we think offer something for any particular segment of baseball playing, whether that means for youths, high schools, amateur or professional ball.
Our goal is to assist players and parents, to help them find that perfect cleat to meet all needs. Best wishes for the upcoming season ~ and those to follow!
- The New Balance FuelCell 4040 v6 Metal Baseball Cleats tops our list by checking all the boxes of your needs: elite comfort, excellent performance, and more, all at a reasonable price.
- The Adidas Men’s Icon 7 Boost Baseball Shoe. gives the model above a run for its money in the comfort department. This metal cleat model also is that overly expensive. Plus it looks cool.
- Here’s that manufacturer once again with the New Balance Fresh Foam 3000 v5 Metal Baseball Cleats, with their Fresh Foam midsole cushioning and other details for the feet to like.
- It’s hard to separate the quality metal cleats from this company, but we felt the Under Armour Men’s Harper 5 Low St Baseball Shoe stood out with its big list of features, and way above-average reviews from users.
- This cleat-maker addresses the need for a softer feel underneath with the Mizuno Men’s 9-Spike Ambition 2 Baseball Shoe. Check out the traction underneath from the 9-Spike® technology that really grips whatever surface you’re playing on.
- The brand alone delivers consistency in delivering decent baseball cleats, and of them all we like Nike Alpha Huarache 3 Varsity Low Metal Baseball Cleats the most.
- Adidas Adizero Afterburner 8 Baseball Cleats are our choice if pricing is most important ~ a hip design, light weight, and performance-comfort balance.
Cleats with metal cleats attached to the bottom of shoes have been around since the beginning of organized baseball. In the game’s early days, ballfields were rudimentary, often pastures or farming fields with grass too thick and soil too moist. So early players adapted by improving their shoes, with metal spikes to dig in and grip that troublesome playing field.
It was like that for seemingly ever, until the 1970s when rubber spikes were introduced, kind of a reaction to the influx of artificial turf showing up more and more on stadium fields. While metal spikes can work fine on modern fake grass, early Astroturf had little padding and wearing spikes could result in joint pain or even injury.
So the big brands introduced the soft-cleat variety, or rubber soles, which didn’t penetrate as hard into the turf yet gave enough to avoid getting stuck in the fake turf or its seams. Plus, many players liked the lightness and comfort of the new rubber-cleat models.
Still, as metal cleat models improved to better compete against newcomers, and fields were improved enough, a whole new world opened up for the type of baseball cleat preferred by most players now.
So who actually needs metal baseball cleats?
- Players prone to slipping a lot, whether on long or wet grass in the outfield, or too-loose dirt in the infield. A particular challenge area with rubber spikes is baserunning, namely pushing off for the first step, and also rounding bases at full speed. In these areas, metal spikes are far better.
- Pitchers who tend to slip on the landing foot. Hurlers must have a firm landing to prevent injuries. Metals are way better for power pitchers who put a lot of stress on that front foot upon release.
- Most big power hitters prefer metal spikes so they can really dig into the dirt in the batters box, and get the spikes nice and deep and set, to use to push off during the swing to begin the strike and torso-twisting. A lot of torque is involved, starting with that first push-off, which begins at the bottom of the feet.
- Players who depend greatly upon running speed, like outfielders and base stealers, dislike the turf whether fake or real giving even a millimeter upon initiation of that first step. Rubber spikes tend to slip a little more than the metals.
- Players (or parents) who hope their cleats last longer. Metal spikes almost always last longer than the non-metal versions.
See the section below the reviews for insider tips on what to look for when looking at new metals to purchase. Meanwhile, let’s get to the meat here: our choices for the best metal baseball cleats for 2023. And, as Buzz Lightyear might say, and beyond!
1. Best Metal Cleats Overall ~ New Balance FuelCell 4040 v6 Metal Baseball Cleats
This brand is known for laser-like focus on comfort, and it’s no different with its New Balance FuelCell 4040 v6 Metal Baseball Cleats. It seems every check box we would assume with a top-quality baseball cleat is marked off here, right down to reasonable pricing.
From the comfort angle, this baseball cleat model has what the company calls FuelCell foam, specifically designed to propel forward and in the process enhance performance. The upper is a fit weave to allow stretching, breathing, and durability.
For function, a lace closure provides a nice fit; and the metal spike outsole is designed through research and testing for an above-average feel and traction. The chef’s kiss is a solid assortment of colors, including some of the most attractive designs on the market. (Note: this model also ranked very well in our review of the best baseball cleats for 2023 overall; you can’t go wrong with either metal or molded rubber spikes).
- Material: Synthetic and mesh
- Weight: 11.8 oz.
- Special Feature(s): FuelCell Foam
What We Like
- The foam midsole cushioning is as good as advertised
- Lightweight and snug in the lacing and fit
- Just feels supportive on the feet and ankles
2. Metal Cleats Runner Up 1 ~ Adidas Men’s Icon 7 Boost Baseball Shoe
Adidas has been delivering quality metal baseball cleats for quite some time, so you can almost go with any model and get your money’s worth. The standout for us is the Adidas Men’s Icon 7 Boost Baseball Shoe. Frankly, we’re amazed at the pricing of this model considering the quality.
In actuality, this model gives our No. 1 choice above a run for its money in the comfort department. What’s noticeable here is a sock-like design and execution inside to hug the feet and all its contours. A textile upper is plenty durable, and this adds a heel strap for a truly locked-down feel.
The marketing point here is the Boost midsole, which of course provides excellent cushioning at the always-vital inner-arch area, but also promises to return energy to boot. The metal cleats on the outsole are superbly positioned, and the Icon 7 just looks cool.
- Material: Synthetic
- Weight: 1.81 lbs.
- Special Feature(s): Sock-like interior
What We Like
- We were quite surprised to see that neither of our top choices were excessively overpriced
- A different kind of comfort inside, in a good way
- Brand trust in this market segment
3. Metal Cleats Runner Up 2 ~ New Balance Fresh Foam 3000 v5 Metal Baseball Cleats
Not to over-toot this company’s horn a 2nd Top 3 ranking here, but we were mightily impressed with the New Balance Fresh Foam 3000 v5 Metal Baseball Cleats. Once again it’s this manufacturer’s ability to make players’ feet comfy out on the field.
The star here is the Fresh Foam midsole cushioning, specially engineered for the most cushy ride possible while also limiting weight. With metal cleats, especially for young players, those metal spikes can both feet bottoms when on them too long. This model ensures it doesn’t happen.
There is much more to like about these cleats. The sole, the durable ethylene vinyl acetate, holds an excellent 8-spike outsole. The upper is a mesh combo TPU for flexibility in movement. A lace cage on the tongue, to protect and secure laces during action, is a fine detailed touch.
- Material: Synthetic
- Weight: 13 oz.
- Special Feature(s): Fresh Foam Midsole
What We Like
- Above-average comfort
- Nice application of synthetic material, especially in the upper mesh to keep the cleats light and also let them move with the feet
- Numerous options for colors and color combos
4. Metal Cleats Runner-Up 3 ~ Under Armour Men’s Harper 5 Low St Baseball Shoe
With user feedback off-the-charts positive, it was hard to keep the Under Armour Men’s Harper 5 Low St Baseball Shoe off our list. Some may feel other Under Armour offerings are even better, but upon close inspection we really like what we see in the Harper 5.
For the upper, Under Armour went all textile with thermoplastic polyurethane (TPU), which is sometimes called either a hard rubber, or a soft plastic ~ a tweener[LINK https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/tweener ], so to speak. This makes it plenty durable while still allowing enough give to prevent making the shoes feel too stiff.
Among the special touches this company offers to its Harper line is a full-length bootie-like construction to insert the foot into. This model also updates the collar shape for a more snug fit, which ultimately comes down to feeling like a real sock; and the Under Armour HOVR cushioning to ensure a non-harsh feel.
- Material: Synthetic
- Weight: 2.14 lbs.
- Special Feature(s): Plush sockliner
What We Like
- About as plush as an athlete’s foot can feel just entering a cleat
- Unique cleat design underneath
- Cool 2-tone upper appearance, with zebra-striped sole
5. Metal Cleats for Traction ~ Mizuno Men’s 9-Spike Ambition 2 Baseball Shoe
This company gets a lot of attention for its glove lines, but the Mizuno Men’s 9-Spike Ambition 2 Baseball Shoe is a wonderful pair of metal spikes at a very nice price point. While some Mizuno models of the past were criticized for bottom-of-the-feet comfort over time, that’s not the case here.
The sales point here is traction. Mizuno touts its 9-Spike® technology on the bottom for the best surface grip possible. The outsole is divided into 3 zones to boost performance; and the full-length ethyl vinyl acetate (EVA) midsole does plenty well to cushion the entire length of the foot.
To address feet bottom pressure matters of the past, this model features Mizuno Wave® technology to limit shock to the ankles, while at the same time taking advantage of keen engineering to perform better while remaining stabilized. It’s hard to explain, but at this price point, it’s a cool feature to have.
- Material: Blend
- Weight: 1.9 lbs.
- Special Feature(s): 9-Spike® technology
What We Like
- Neat spikes and spike pattern on the bottom for excellent grip
- Priced well for the features
- Ankle-protecting padding
6. Metal Cleats for Consistency ~ Nike Alpha Huarache 3 Varsity Low Metal Baseball Cleats
Nike is a known leader in sports shoes overall, and while a lot of prominent professional players have and still do wear the swoosh on the diamond, the company doesn’t get much acclaim for its excellent baseball spikes. For that we suggest a look at the Nike Alpha Huarache 3 Varsity Low Metal Baseball Cleats.
This model is relatively highly acclaimed, and what’s cool about going with a Nike model is consistency. You rarely if ever get a bad shoe or cleat with this brand. It might not have features that jump out, or bling-bling styling, but all Nike baseball cleat offerings are fine for baseball play.
This model has a very lightweight upper created from a mix of breathable mesh and synthetic skin ~ aimed at above-average foot lockdown without weighing a player down. Nike’s own React foam limits pressure on the bottom of the feet from the metal studs, a touch we particularly appreciate.
- Material: Synthetic
- Weight: 1.68 lbs.
- Special Feature(s): Nike React foam
What We Like
- Nike consistency in excellence
- Sneaker-like feel
- Reinforced heal for stability
7. Metal Cleats on a Budget ~ Adidas Adizero Afterburner 8 Baseball Cleats
Adidas Adizero Afterburner 8 Baseball Cleats are just cool. The price is superb for the quality, the design is casual-cool, and the overall cleats are designed for speed. What’s not to like there?
Adidas focused on limiting weight while still offering support and comfort. This model shows this off with a couple of features. First, there’s a textile lining inside for feet snugness and feeling.
Then, they added the company’s own Sprintskin upper which is light but also provides plenty of support. These metal cleats look good, feel good, and perform well ~ especially in this price range!
- Material: Synthetic
- Weight: 1.52 lbs.
- Special Feature(s): Sprintskin upper
What We Like
- Super light
- Super cool-looking
- Nicely priced
What to Look for When Buying Metal Baseball Cleats
The best baseball cleats nowadays come with a lot of features, including many very advanced, making it difficult for a new player or parent to separate between them.
While we feel any of the choices outlined above would meet your needs, we still wanted to expend some energy offering you details to look for with metal baseball cleats in particular. So, here goes:
First off, understand that some youth leagues do not allow metal spikes, especially at very young ages. While metal spikes are dangerous, they do require some special handling, especially in terms of sliding and stepping on bases. So first off, find out if your league or organization allows metal cleats, and if so, in which age divisions.
Metal spikes are better for baseball play on very hard or very soft surfaces, which is more often than not. Also, metals tend to last longer than the molded rubber spike alternative, which can wear down when used even walking over hard dirt. So always peek at the photos or marketing text of models to look for minutiae about the spikes. Some models have more, or special features to supplement the metals.
It honestly was not all that long ago when hard leather, all-black (not even a white logo!) were the only style choices. Now, baseball cleats come with better-quality leather, which means lighter and more flexible. Or, more often today, good cleats come in some form of synthetic, like a vinyl-mesh mix. These modern materials are very light and super durable, so don’t think for a moment that you must go with all-leather. It’s just no longer true.
Leather is heavy, and it can dry and even cracking if soaked with water or sweat and then not maintained. Modern technology has come up with awesome alternatives, many included in the models above.
While a few ounces here or there might not seem much, but imagine a player standing on a hot field for 3 hours, sprinting in these shoes a lot of the time. Heavy cleats not only slow down ballplayers, they also can eat up energy, and believe it or not stamina is a huge part of successful baseball play.
The general demarcation line on baseball cleat weight is 1 lb. ~ though that can be bumped up a little bit if you go metal spikes. If only ounces are used to describe weight, the model is light.
Players who end up most of the time in certain positions, like corner infielders and catchers, are less concerned with weight. They often care more about durability, or grip underneath. Cleat models exceeding 2 lbs. are heavy.
Today’s competing manufacturers and models can be quite alike. If after considering the details above you still feel stymied, then maybe think about the single element of a player’s game that is important to him or her, like feet comfort. Then look for details that target that particular desire.
Some cleats have reinforced toe ends to prevent wearing as the rear foot drags during throws (especially for pitchers. Some models may hide or otherwise strap down shoelaces to avoid slips and trips. Other cleats might have a material to wick sweat away from the feet, or allow air to flow better through the shoes, which may be desirable in hot regions.
How Positions Impact Which Baseball Cleats to Wear
The position a player will (or may) play most should be considered carefully when looking for new baseball cleats. Here’s a summarization:
These players need flexible souls and to be comfortable, because all the squatting puts pressure on the feet and underside of cleats. A solid surface (e.g. no mesh) is preferred because of excessive sweat and dirt. Look for advanced ventilation features; extra lining or padding at the toes; and a thicker or softer tongue.
Those on the mound need effective studs (cleats) underneath; and protection on the tip of the foot that drags after releasing the ball. Pitchers absolutely must not slip during pitches. Cleat weight is important for pitchers for stamina.
Infielders play on dirt, which quite often is packed down, almost asphalt hard. These players are especially hard on the spikes, toes, and the middle area where cleats bend. Look for extra toe-tip protection, and a durable shell material. All-mesh cleats are not recommended for infield play; you’ll never get the dirt out.
Outfielders depend on the first step (the jump), and the sprint to reach fly balls or line shots. Seek cleats light in weight, or designed for speed. Mesh also is not a great idea here, also, due to often -moist grass.
If the priority is hitting, seek cleats with strong studs underneath, and support at stress points of the feet like the arch, or ball of the foot. Hitters create a lot of torque, which can damage crappy cleats.
Notes on Playing Time and Baseball Cleats
Players who spend most of their time in certain positions can be unique in how they wear down baseball cleats. Examples:
- Pitchers and catchers handle the ball every pitch, so the repetition does not help with durability. Cleats with cheap synthetic leather, or any type of meshare not recommended. For these positions, seek high-quality exterior materials.
- The action of outfielders could not be more different: they are either standing around on grass, or running as fast as they can to a certain point. Cleats made of synthetics or even with mesh can reduce weight and promote speed. A solid design of the cleats underneath helps (e.g. 8-spike or 9-spike designs).
- Infielders play on dirt, which means their feet get hotter than those of the players stationed behind them. Plus, there’s a lot of quick starts and stopsComfort at the balls of the feet and under the heels is very important here; and some extra toe protection is nice.
- Hitters pivot, twist, and scrunch their feet into the dirt on every swing, creating a tremendous amount of torque, which ultimately is not good for metal baseball cleats. For cleats to be used both in practices and games, seek a decent mid-section, or with extra help around the arch. Some hitters might benefit from what they call “mid” style, or an ankle height taller than normal without being full high tops.
Question: Can metal spikes be replaced if they wear down?
Answer: Yes, but with professional help. Not many models any longer make this easy to do yourself; any longer. A shoe cobbler might help. However, metal cleats usually last long enough that the surface material (outer shell, or “upper”) should show signs of wear at the same time. Understand that you might be paying a pretty price to get new spikes on shoes that are slowly failing.
Q.: Can you change spikes by filing, or using a lathe?
A.: It is very not recommended. Not only would it violate most baseball league rules, it probably will speed up the process to wear the spikes down. Leave the spikes alone; and most certainly never “sharpen” them.