New Balance Changing The Way It Studs In Baseball
Glass-fiber reinforced TPU makes its way into baseball this year as New Balance debuts the CompV1 cleat, the first-ever composite cleat plate in the game.
Using a combination of clear TPU spikes and the new, red glass-fiber reinforced TPU spikes, the differing styles of studs support each other, with the red spikes built to break the dirt and add strength to the surrounding traditional TPU studs. The newly-designed spikes come stronger than traditional TPU, but also weigh less while providing the same traction as metal.
“The concept behind the CompV1 was born due to three main factors,” said Matt Nuzzo, New Balance field of play associate product manager, who points to the tremendous growth of club ball having serious youth players approaching 100 games per year. “Parents are becoming more cognizant that the more games their youngster plays, the more wear and tear they are susceptible to and always wearing metal cleats isn’t ideal in their growing years."
As the younger players rack up more games, they also notice how many MLB players wear molded cleats just to make it through a 162-game season, helping grow the acceptance of switching from metal to composite.
The third reason, Nuzzo says, is the rise of synthetic fields in all parts of the country.
“Many of these facilities do not allow for metal spikes to be worn,” Nuzzo said. “The main goal of the CompV1 innovation was to create a spike that was wearable on all field surfaces—grass, turf or dirt—and perform at a level comparable to metal with the comfort of a molded spike. Consistent traction was the name of the game.”
And while the CompV1 features the game’s first glass-fiber composite plate, for those still looking for metal spikes, the new 4040v4 has a new stud configuration in metal. The heel was flipped with two studs in the back and one in the front for a better feel and the back studs were move up by millimeters to make sure they penetrate the ground for an optimal combination of flexibility and stability instead of splaying out.
The forefoot includes a circular pattern for rotational movement. This change came from Dustin Pedroia and his doctors suggesting he use an old circular stud orientation. New Balance researched the concept and designed the 4040V4 to allow the studs to splice in the same direction.
By making the studs .75 grams lighter, the entire cleat comes in about one ounce lighter. To help alleviate the stud pressure, the 4040v4 uses two TPU versions for the plate, one harder to protect the foot and one more flexible to allow the foot to move naturally instead of getting restricted where flexibility proves important.
For players looking for a more comfortable metal spike or a higher-performing composite, New Balance went a fresh direction with its 2018 baseball line.
Tim Newcomb covers gear and business for Baseball America. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.