Characteristics of Infielder's Gloves
In baseball, infielders tend to make more plays that require catching and immediate throwing than outfielders do. Because of this difference, the two types of gloves are somewhat different in design.
It is more difficult to make a quick catch-and-throw with gloves that have deeper pockets, so the pockets of infield gloves are relatively shallow. Infielder's gloves are usually open across the back of the hand, making them more responsive to wrist movements and lighter in weight. They also tend to be thinner and have less padding than outfielder's gloves because infielders are more frequently challenged to be nimble with their catches.
Characteristics of Outfielder's Gloves
After considering the unique characteristics of infielder's gloves, the differences between them and outfielder's gloves may seem obvious. The size and depth of the pocket is the most noticeable difference, with outfielder's gloves designed to be much deeper. Although this makes it more difficult to quickly retrieve and throw grounded balls, the greater size improves the odds of catching difficult fly balls. The backs of outfielder's gloves are often covered, giving outfielders more support between their wrists and the tips of their fingers. Overall, outfielder's gloves are larger, heavier and more thickly padded than infielder's gloves.
Differences Within Each Category
The different types of infielder's gloves vary in many significant ways. First basemen traditionally wear mitts instead of gloves, and these mitts are bolstered with an extra layer of leather since first basemen must catch so many hard-thrown and hard-hit balls. First base mitts are also longer than most other infield gloves to make grounders easier to catch. Second basemen use the smallest gloves on the field, followed immediately by the shortstop, because these two positions have the greatest pressure to move from catching to throwing in an instant. Because third base players usually have the least pressure to turn balls around quickly, they often choose gloves closer in size and pocket depth to the outfielder's glove.
Outfielder's gloves do not vary in such specific ways from left field to center field to right field. The differences among gloves that you might notice are usually due to the personal preferences of the individual outfielders. Variables include weight, size, open back vs. closed back, open webbing vs. closed webbing and manufacturer.