After being hit in the face by a pitch that ended his 2014 season, he wore a football-style face mask in 2015 but switched to the C-Flap in 2016 and has continued to wear it since then, primarily against right-handed pitchers.
For decades, a player would wear a C-Flap only after he’d been hit in the face by a pitch, like Stanton, which is sort of like locking the barn door after the horse is already gone.
Trout, Harper and Cabrera are part of a new wave of players who are wearing the C-Flap even though they haven’t been beaned.
One of those players — Brewers outfielder Keon Broxton — credited the C-Flap with saving his life after he took a pitch to the flap last season.
(Be honest: Did you know it was called a C-Flap before you started reading this article?) In addition, due to an unfortunate confluence of circumstances, the C-Flap isn’t approved for use in college baseball, high school baseball or most youth leagues, which has limited the product’s growth potential even as it flourishes among the pros.
Crow doesn’t recall the first MLB player to wear the C-Flap, but the earliest adopter I’m aware of is A’s catcher Terry Steinbach.