Best Oakley Baseball Sunglasses

5 Best Oakley Baseball Sunglasses for 2023

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As winter wanes and baseball players start envisioning the sunny days of spring, they also think about protecting their all-important eyes. Oakley has long been a preferred sunglasses brand for ballplayers, and we wondered which of its models are best moving forward.

So we decided on a new baseball product review tact, to suggest the best Oakley baseball sunglasses for 2023 (and years following). We expended time and energy to understand the most-desired features, as well as investigated new details that baseball players may yet to be aware of with advanced Oakley models.

Among all the major team sports, baseball may be the most demanding on the eyes. First of all, it’s a game where having good or above-average eyesight is a huge factor toward success. It is very hard to hit what (pitches) you cannot see.

Secondly, baseball is a game played through the sunny months, so players end up standing out in the bright sunlight for hours on end, leaving great potential to damage the retina or other working parts of the eyes.

And all of this does not even take into consideration that sunglasses can make playing defense on baseball easier.

Summary

  • The Oakley Encoder tops our list, because this model is more specifically designed to fit the face of a baseball player with the utmost of comfort.
  • We, like many others, believe that the Oakley Flak 2.0 line is suitable for play in any sport, any environment, any time, including baseball.
  • Range of visibility left and right makes the Oakley Radar EV Path part of our list, and high up at that.
  • The Sutro Lite cuts corners on the lower-outside corners to come up with a pair that fits better and allows unobstructed views.
  • For players who seem to break every pair, look into the military-designed Oakley M2 Frame XL model.

The True Need for Sunglasses in Baseball

Let us start by expanding the last thing we mentioned: sunglasses to make a player perform better.

In reality, sunglasses have been seen consistently over baseball players’ eyes since the 1960s, starting with the classic “flip-down shades” that weren’t truly sunglasses but shaded pieces of thin plastic that could be attached to the sides of the cap brim, to easily flip downward when needed.

The concept was to not have to wear sunglasses at all times while out on the field. Outfielders could be seen looking up for a fly ball, then using his throwing hand to tap the shaded glasses over his eyes to see the ball better compared with the sun.

Remember, back then there wasn’t the huge selection of sunglasses and their various types as there are today. Back then sunglasses were thick, lunky, and expensive. (Think classic Ray-Ban Wayferer Sunglasses.

(Flip-down sunglasses remain available for those ballplayers who want to go with the classic look.)

Besides the cost and limited choices, many players simply just did not want to wear sunglasses at all times out on the field. In fact, some felt it hindered their sight on plays not up in the sun, but right in front of them. It’s also hard to find a baseball buried in the background of people in the stands.

As players continued using the flip-downs, the sunglasses industry blossomed and started creating lighter, more affordable pairs. Regular sunglasses slowly began to show up on major league players’ faces more often, and then the Bash Brothers of the Oakland Athletics began wearing the new Oakley Mumbo model in the mid-1980s.

Photos of young Mark McGwire and Jose Conseco at the start of their careers often show them with these slick, very modern, almost space age-looking shades. (Today the company has several similar models usually called “rectangular sunglasses”.

Better designs, high-quality optics, and increased protection from the sun’s harmful rays (ultraviolet rays, or UV rays) began flooding the market by makers such as Carrera and Bausch & Lomb.

New, thinner yet strong enough plastics let the companies expand the market with interchangeable lenses, a great variety of colors, and the wrap-around models like those worn by Canseco and Hall of Famer Tony Gwynn that were all the rage in the 1990s.

Eventually, manufacturers began making models specific to sports. For baseball, Oakley started pulling away from the pack.

Sunglasses continue to be worn by baseball players at all levels ~ yes, even in tee-ball! Part of the reason is scientific discoveries about the true dangers of UV rays and infrared rays (IR rays) on the body, specifically the eyes.

As stated above, eyesight is extremely important for baseball success. In fact, failing eyes can curtail or shorten a baseball career. It has happened quite a lot, actually.

So baseball players, particularly those suddenly making unbelievable salaries with the introduction of free agency, sought ways to protect their most sensitive body parts. Oakley took that concept and ran with it, offering a huge variety of models and styles to fit darn near any environment.

Finally, wearing sunglasses on the field looks cool. For that alone, young players probably will ask their parents about getting some shades.

For those parents, and all baseball players, we suggest looking closely at the following 5 models from the Oakley brand, good for baseball play.

Details to Notice in Buying Oakley Sunglasses for Baseball

Like every baseball player, not every face is the same. Nor the eyes. Regardless of how crisply or poorly the eyes see, some eyes are more sensitive to bright light, or extreme colors.

So when purchasing a pair of Oakleys, think about what’s most important to the player. Is it comfort? Fit (e.g. snug, no-slip)? Feel over the ears? Tint shade? Ultraviolet ray protection?

Here are some details to look for during the purchase process.

Frame Style

For this, it’s up to the player whether it’s important to look cool with super-thin modern frame shapes, or more vital for a wrap-around style to protect as much as possible.

Today these frame styles are nearly unlimited. You can choose between rimless, semi-rimless, thick or thin arms, high-tech materials like titanium.

Frame Material

For Oakley models for baseball play, this means looking for what is known as O-Matter, a proprietary frame material designed and held by Oakley. This material is purposely as flexible and lightweight as possible, while maintaining durability. This material gives Oakley an edge over other makers of sports shades. Look for the terms O-Matter and impact resistant.

Lens Technology

We mentioned above how some players long ago disliked the idea of wearing sunglasses over their eyes all the time. The reason is, some lenses can blur or otherwise impair the clarity of the vision. In baseball, the most minute misses on plays can be the difference between good and bad.

Understanding that baseball is not a “game of inches” but a game of micro measurements, Oakley developed its PRIZM lens technology. These lenses don’t just avoid impairing vision. They provide the best of what is called color contrast, which is desired to actually make you see better. Oakley delivers the best pairs for focusing on the right colors, and boosting how vivid images appear. For example, outfielders might prefer lenses designed to make the white ball stand out more compared with the blue or gray sky.

Lens Style

This feature is more specific to individual taste: what color is the tint? Is the frame finish glossy, or a flat matte? Some players’ eyes do better with a yellow tint in the lens; others just think they look way cool when the lens is a light blue. Oakley offers a lot of options in these areas.

Arms and Grip

Arms are those 2 thin things that go from the frames to behind the ears. These can be the most troublesome element of glasses. In sports, the hinge between the frame and arms can get jolted loose. Or, arms made of inferior material can bend or even break during play.

Oakley has its own rubber, Unobtainium, which somehow gets more tacky (stickier) as a player sweats more. This material is soft, allowing some give to hold them in place from the point on the bridge of the nose where eyeglasses are anchored. Any baseball player today would appreciate the resultant secure yet comfy fit and feel.

Best Oakley Baseball Sunglasses for 2023 ~ Our Suggestions

1. Best Oakley Baseball Sunglasses for 2023 Overall ~ Oakley Encoder

Analysis

Of all the quality eyeglass models by the company, the Oakley Encoder tops our list, mainly because of them all this model appears to be made very specifically for baseball play. To the point, these sunglasses are designed to fit very well while wearing a hat or helmet.

This performance-style, rectangular wraparound checks all the boxes in terms of what you expect from a quality Oakley offering: PRIZM 24K lenses for color contrast; impact protection; filters 100% of of UVA, UVB, UVC, and harmful blue light (up to 400mm); O-Matter stress-resistant and light-weight frames.

You can find almost all of these pluses in the Oakley models listed below. It’s just that the Encoder provides just enough specific details, from the enhanced field of view, to stronger arms to avoid deforming, to gray-tint lenses to help against intensified light, and more.

Specifications

  • Materials: Plastic
  • 100% UV Protection: Yes
  • Nosepad: No-slip grip
  • Special Feature: Perfectly fitted to rest right under the brim of a hat or helmet.

What We Like

  • Best fit we found for baseball with Oakley models
  • All the Oakley-specific materials including the PRIZM 24K lenses
  • Light, stress-resistant, flexible, and very cool-looking

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2. Best Oakley Baseball Sunglasses for 2023 Runner-Up ~ Oakley Flak 2.0

Analysis

This review is of the XL version of the Oakley Flak 2.0 line of models, compared with the XS versions for smaller players. In fact, for any sport not only baseball the Flak 2.0 works just fine. More than fine for baseball play, in fact.

These fine sunglasses are lightweight yet very strong, with the patented O-Matter frame, and add the company’s own Unobtainium grip at the temples and nose pads to prevent slipping. For any athletic play, we really like the 3-point fit system which distributes pressure evenly on the bridge of the nose, and behind the ears ~ sensitive touch points for lengthy periods of wear.

The XL version, compared with the previous Flak 2.0, are taller vertically and have cuts around the cheek bones for a snug fit to the face without touching or impairing the view.

Specifications

  • Materials: Plastic
  • 100% UV Protection: Yes
  • Nosepad: No-slip grip
  • Special Feature: Semi-rimless frame design

What We Like

  • Exceptional for play in any sport
  • Semi-rimless design to improve view downward
  • Option for Asian fit, an alternative with a thinner nose bridge

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3. Best Oakley Baseball Sunglasses for 2023 for Visibility Range ~ Oakley Radar Ev Path

Analysis

In actuality, the Radar line of Oakley sunglasses have been seen on ballfields for many years. For our list for 2023 and moving forward, we point to the Oakley Radar EV Path sunglasses.

With this model its the really wide, wraparound-style lens and provides its cool look externally. For the player this allows full visibility around the field ~ in fact, perhaps the best in all of sports. Not to be overlooked is Oakley’s attention to the arms-frame joint, perhaps the most well-constructed that you can find.

As with the Encoder, this model is designed really well for a frontal fit, meaning under hat brims. Add to it PRIZM Low Light technology, O-Matter frame, and superb company-specific grips, and you have a well-above-average pair of shades.

Specifications

  • Materials: Plastic
  • 100% UV Protection: Yes
  • Nosepad: No-slip grip
  • Special Feature: Full shield lens

What We Like

  • Wide, open feel of the full-shield for a lens
  • Encoder-like design to fit right under a cap

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4. Best Oakley Baseball Sunglasses for 2023 for Comfort ~ Oakley Sutro Lite

Analysis

The original Sutro features these really big lenses that reach down very low and way below and even a bit outside of the eyes. In other words, that last bit of reach to the outside corners was not optimal for baseball. So the company fixed that with the Oakley Sutro Lite.

With the Lite, gone is the blind spot on ground balls caused by its predecessor. But beyond that, this is a wonderful pair of shades for ball play. The semi-rimless design is super-cool looking, like almost all Oakley models, and the company adds its exceptional optics details to protect vision.

Tack on a super-duper comfortable nose ridge design, and we feel the Sutro Lite is great for any ballplayer in any environment.

Specifications

  • Materials: Plastic
  • 100% UV Protection: Yes
  • Nosepad: No-slip grip
  • Special Feature: Unobtainium saddle bridge

What We Like

  • These glasses are about the most comfortable you will feel on the nose bridge.
  • Super-wide and neat looking lens

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5. Best Oakley Baseball Sunglasses for 2023 for Durability ~ Oakley M2 Frame XL

Analysis

Let’s face it, many young baseball players are prone to collisions, whether with the baseball, or with other players both on and off his team. For these kids, the ones who are very rough on their shades, we present the Oakley M2 Frame XL model.

The “M” represents military, and the 2 denotes an upgraded version than the original. Yes, this model has most of the bells and whistles included with other top Big O models. What it adds is a new, enhanced vertical element, making it easier to maintain view while subtly tilting the head back or forth.

Think being in combat when considering the other features: 100% UV protection, high-definition optics, impact protection, etc. Basically, this model adds some height to its profile, plus extreme durability.

Specifications

  • Materials: Plastic
  • 100% UV Protection: Yes
  • Nosepad: No-slip grip
  • Special Feature:

What We Like

  • Cut even more on the lower outsides than the previous model we mentioned, for even less chance of obstruction

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Why are Oakley Sunglasses Good for Baseball?

A great percentage of modern baseball players at the highest levels wear Oakley model sunglasses. The reason is that the company designs and creates some of the best eyeglass frames for sports use, including baseball.

Remember what we noted above about the 1960s, that choices were very limited then? Much of it involved a lack of creativity with frames. For a long time, eyeglass frames looked like those worn by early rock ‘n’ roller Buddy Holly. Thick, black frames were pretty much all you’d see.

As major sports became very big money in the late 1970s and 1980s, brands began to specialize more. For sports, that meant how to make the frames lighter, more durable, and comfortable.

The squarish look for the old thick black frames gave way to almost artistic designs, curved to better fit the face and block as much light from the eyes as possible.

For baseball, the players would not tolerate pairs that fell off or slipped while running. Also, because they were in the sun more, they liked more protection up top (near the eyebrows), and on the sides (for peripheral vision). Some appreciated bigger frames to even protect the face skin under the eyes.

Manufacturers like Oakley responded. Due to the big size of the sunglasses market, and the serious competition involved, Oakley as a company understood that every little competitive edge helped sales.

So they invested in research and development, and never lost sight of their core product models for baseball.

Related Questions

Question: When were sunglasses first worn in baseball?

Answer: In professional baseball, it is said that the first to compete while wearing them was Paul Hines, in 1882, when he was a young star centerfielder for the Providence Grays.

Q.: Was Paul Hines good?

A.: Very much so. He played in 1,658 games over 20 MLB seasons, won a league championship, and in 1878 recorded both the first Triple Crown and first unassisted triple play in baseball history.