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05/24/2024

The Wilson A2K ® vs Rawlings Pro Preferred ® | How Do They Compare?

If you’ve been around baseball gloves for a while then you know the intensity of the competition between Wilson and Rawlings. In 1916, Wilson started building baseball gear, officially joining Rawlings in the sporting goods market (where Rawlings had already been since 1887). Over the years, many companies have risen and fallen within the baseball market, but none have risen and maintained elite status quite like these two giants. Naturally, their gloves are compared frequently and few gloves stack up as easily as Rawlings’s Pro Preferred and Wilson’s A2K. 

Continue reading if you wish to dive into the details of the A2K and Pro Preferred gloves, comparing and contrasting their construction, fit and comfort, performance, and overall value. By exploring these key aspects, you'll gain a better understanding of which glove series aligns with your needs and preferences. Let’s dive in.

 

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Wilson A2K vs. Rawlings Pro Preferred

When it comes to elite baseball gloves, two names stand out: Wilson A2K and Rawlings Pro Preferred. And while the names of these two series may not be heard as frequently as the Wilson A2000 or the Rawlings Heart of the Hide, please know that there is a reason for that. These glove series have earned a reputation as being the top two glove collections available for ball players*. Due to that reputation, they are sought out by some of the top amateur and professional players who are seeking the best tool they can use to field and catch a baseball. Players choosing these gloves will have to fully invest time, effort and money to ensure they get the most performance out of them.

*In the past, the Rawlings Gold Glove Series was certainly the most consistently-offered, highest-quality glove on the market. However, those are not found as frequently any longer.

 

Wilson A2K Gloves

Fifty years after the Wilson A2000 was first introduced, Wilson decided it was time to add a ball glove that could surpass the A2000 in construction and possibly rival the A2000 in reputation. The year was 2007 and the glove introduced was the Wilson A2K

Technically speaking, the A2K gloves are made from the same Pro Stock leather as the A2000s (which JustGloves believes is steerhide), but there is a catch. Wilson sorts their Pro Stock leather three separate times after they receive it. During the sorting process Wilson reports that they are looking for consistency and flawlessness in the material. After the third time examining the leather, Wilson identifies what they believe is the top five percent of their Pro Stock material. It is that leather that will be used to build A2Ks. Wilson believes that this sorting process allows the A2Ks to get the strongest and most durable leather.

The next factor that separates an A2K from other gloves is going to be its Double Palm Construction. This construction consists in adding a very thin piece of leather between the palm shell and the inner hand liner. Once your glove has been broken into your preferences, that thin piece of leather is specially designed to allow your glove to hold its shape (specifically the pocket) for many seasons.

Lastly, we would be remiss if we did not mention that A2Ks receive the most attention from the Wilson craftsmen. These craftsmen have received their instruction from none other than the Wilson Glove Guru himself: Shigeaki Aso. If you want to get a glove that was properly watched over from the beginning of the building process to the end, then you need to consider an A2K.

 

What Type of Player Should Use A Wilson A2K?

An A2K glove will best serve a baseball player in their high school years or beyond. More specifically, that player must be seeking the best equipment they can use.

The price tag expresses the glove's quality as it usually retails around $400. Along with the investment of money, the player that gets it will need to dedicate time to get the glove in game ready condition. Wilson’s glove technicians do dedicate ample time in the factory to ensuring the glove is shaped and softened as much as possible. But they are also mindful not to work it so as to create a predetermined shape for the glove. All A2Ks will come very stiff in their feel and able to be broken in to each player’s personal preferences. If you were interested in getting an A2K that may be a little softer in its feel, consider getting one with SuperSkin. The SuperSkin alternative backing is on a number of A2K gloves and one of its benefits is that it usually makes a glove's break-in slightly easier.

(In the past there have been some DP15 pattern gloves made in the A2K series. The Wilson DP15 pattern is built with a smaller wrist opening, smaller hand slot and thinned heel pad to help fit a smaller/younger hand. In the past there may have been a shot that a player younger than their teen and high school years could have used a DP15 patterned A2K. However, it is rare to currently find a DP15 patterned glove in the A2K series)

 

Rawlings Pro Preferred Gloves

In 2001, Rawlings had an idea for a new glove to introduce to the glove market. Their Heart of the Hide (HOH) was already a staple within amateur and professional baseball. The US Steerhide leather being used on those HOHs was providing a glove that could withstand the rigors of high-level baseball, but Rawlings was not going to rest on their laurels.

That year they released a new glove featuring material that had never been used on a baseball glove before. The material was Kip Leather and the glove was called the Pro Preferred.

Kip Leather is commonly considered an upgrade from steerhide. Kip is harvested from younger animals and those animals have had less life (even when compared to the animals that produce steerhide) for their hide to be scratched. Because of this, the leather is nearly visually flawless. You’ll notice that more Pro Preferreds are made with blonde leather (when compared to HOHs) to highlight the impeccable look (as can be seen below):

Another benefit of Kip Leather is that due to the short lifespan of the animal, the hide is less stretched (than even steerhide) and thus the fiber structure is super tight. This makes the leather on these gloves very stiff right out of the box. Although stiff gloves require more effort regarding the break in process, they provide the most blank canvas for ensuring that the glove forms perfectly to your hand as you prep it to be your gamer.

Lastly, the Pro Preferreds will employ Pittards Sheepskin leather on the inner hand lining of the glove. This material is exceptional at wicking away sweat from a fielder’s hand. To do this, the sheepskin lining absorbs the moisture from a player’s glove hand and then releases the moisture in the form of vapor. Not only does this keep your hand dry, but should also help extend the life of the glove by allowing the least amount of negative effects of sweat to take hold on the glove’s inner hand lining.

 

What Type of Player Should Use A Rawlings Pro Preferred?

Similar to an A2K, a Pro Preferred is going to be the glove for an advanced baseball player (high school or older) that wants to know they have one of the best available tools helping them field. In our opinion, this is going to be a high school player striving for a college baseball scholarship, a college player or adult player who wants the best equipment possible.

The level of player for which this glove is built is indicated by the price. Pro Preferreds typically retail around $380. It's a significant monetary investment, but that price does make them slightly less expensive than the Wilson A2Ks.

Be sure to note that Rawlings won’t be making these gloves in sizes specifically for youth players. This is a contrast from the Heart of the Hide gloves which have select models made with Rawlings’ soft R2G (Ready-2-Go) design and their snug-fitting ContoUR design. As well, Rawlings won’t make any fastpitch gloves within the Pro Preferred series. The Pro Preferred will specifically be made for use in baseball.

 

A2K vs Pro Preferred - Direct Comparison

We've gone over quite a bit regarding the history, design and purpose of both the A2K and Pro Preferred. And when you stack up the gloves together you'll find that they compare pretty similarly.

That being said, they do differ regarding the leather material used. The Rawlings Pro Preferred uses Kip Leather while the A2K employs Wilson's Pro Stock Select Leather (the top 5% of Wilson Pro Stock material). But please know that both of these leathers have stood the test of time as players have routinely been satisfied with both materials.

One more small difference is that the intital retail price of a Pro Preferred glove is about $20 less when compated to an A2K's initial price (but when you look at the overall price of both gloves, that difference is pretty small).

Look below to see how they stack up head-to-head in four key categories:

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We hope that you've enjoyed learning about both the Wilson A2K and the Rawlings Pro Preferred. If you've read through and are still needing some questions answered, please reach out to our trained Glove Experts. They can be reached though phone at 866-321-4568, through email via experts@justgloves.com or by LIVE CHAT.

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