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As a baseball player, one of the most important pieces of equipment you will own is your bat. To become the best hitter you can be you naturally want the best baseball bat you can find. In this article we will conduct some baseball bat reviews and attempt to assist you in your search for the right bat.
There are a number of variables that you need to consider when buying a baseball bat for yourself or your child. The materials used in constructing the bat as well as the type of construc-tion are important factors in making your choice. Other factors that will go into your decision are the length and weight of the bat as well as how it feels in the player’s hands. Features such as the bat grip and handle will come into play here as well. There also may be requirements that must be followed based on the league in which you are competing. Let’s take a closer look at how to suc-cessfully navigate through these many choices.
A simple method of determining the correct bat length is to measure from the center of the chest to the tips of the fingers when the arms are outstretched to the side in a manner that mimics an airplane. Using that method in conjunction with this sizing chart will give you a good sense of how long the bat should be. Remember that these are guidelines to get you started. You may find that a bat slightly longer or shorter than recommended is best for the player in question.
The weight of a baseball bat is given in ounces. It is often referred to in terms of a drop weight as opposed to simply weighing the bat. The drop weight is the difference between the bat’s length in inches and its weight in ounces. So a bat that is 32 inches long and weighs 27 ounces is said to have a drop weight of -5. The bigger the drop weight the lighter the bat in comparison to length.
Bats with greater drop weights may be more suitable for smaller players or can potentially allow any player to swing the bat more quickly and make better in-swing adjustments. This needs to be balanced with the fact that a heavier bat if swung at the same speed will deliver more pow-er to a well struck ball and lead to better results.
As with bat length you should experiment with varying drop weights. One suggestion is to first find the length that suits the player and then try different drops until the bat feels comfortable and can be swung smoothly. Using a bat that is too heavy or too light will detract from the player’s ability to reach their peak hitting performance.
Bat Performance Testing Terminology
In your search for a bat you will undoubtedly encounter some testing terminology related to a bat’s performance and the way a ball reacts after being struck. Conforming to certain testing criteria may be a requirement of your league or organization and failure to do so can result in penalties being assessed against your team.. Here is quick rundown of the most common terms you will see.
BPF – Bat Performance Factor
This number indicates the increase in liveliness of a ball when hit compared to it bouncing off a solid wall. So if a ball rebounds 15% faster from your bat than if bouncing off a wall it would have a BPF of 1.15.
Bat-ball Coefficient of Restitution measures the trampoline effect of the bat on the batted ball. It is the current standard for adult baseball bats used in high school and college. The accept-ed BBCOR for approved bats is .5 which is only slightly higher than a wood bat. BBCOR ap-proved bats also cannot exceed 36 inches in length, and need to have a barrel diameter not ex-ceeding 2 5/8 inches. The drop weight cannot be more than -3. Bats that adhere to this standard are legal for use in USSSA play. Here is a nice video that explains it well.
Our review about best bbcor baseball bats.
Ball Exit Speed Ratio was the measurement used for adult bats prior to BBCOR. BESR was replaced for collegiate play in 2011 and for high school play in 2012. It only allowed an exit speed of 97 miles per hour and also dictated that the bat’s drop weight could not exceed -3.
Ball Exit Speed Ratio – Accelerated Break In testing was done after composite bats were banned from high school play and allowed certain bats to be used throughout the 2011 season.
Bat Materials and Construction
While Major Leaguers are restricted to using bats made of wood, most other players face a variety of choices in selecting the material that will best suit their needs. In addition to the tra-ditional wood bat you can also obtain a baseball bat that is made of aluminum and alloys or one made from composite materials. Composites are manufactured using reinforced carbon fiber pol-ymer and many manufacturers use proprietary materials to affect the bat’s performance and dis-tinguish their brand. Hybrid bats are also available that attempt to reap the benefits of more than one of these basic materials.
As you would expect, using these different materials will produce bats that have distinc-tive characteristics. An additional factor to consider is that bats can be constructed as one-piece or two-piece bats. One-piece bats are made of wood, composite or aluminum. A two-piece bat can be made of composite materials or a hybrid of two different types of materials such as com-posite and aluminum. Let’s discuss some pros and cons related to each type of bat material and bat construction.
Baseball bats were traditionally made from wood. Though other types of bats are availa-ble, many players still use wood bats. They can be less expensive than aluminum or composite bats and some players just prefer their feel and look. Wood bats are dictated to be used for play in the Major Leagues as well as USSSA leagues and can be safely used at any level of organized play.
Wood bats are usually made of maple, ash, birch or hickory. The softer the wood used in construction the more “feel” is transferred to the player on contact. Maple is one of the most commonly used type of woods used and creates a hard hitting bat that offers little flex or “feel”. Favored by most MLB players it is harder to control but generates power by efficiently transfer-ring energy from the bat to the ball. Bats made out of ash are the most flexible and lightweight of the wood bats and are preferred by contact hitters. Birch is softer than maple but harder than ash and therefore offers more flex and “feel” than maple but less than ash. Hickory is the hardest of these woods and is not flexible. It has fallen out of favor and is rarely used in modern bats. Some manufacturers offer hybrid wood bats that employ bamboo as well as one of the more common woods to enhance bat performance.
Our review about best wood bats.
Metal Alloy Bats
The most common metal used in bat manufacture is aluminum or aluminum alloys so in general these are often referred to as aluminum bats. They first became popular in the 1970s and can be lighter than wood bats and therefore easier to swing while still generating power. Alumi-num bats are usually one-piece bats and are more expensive than wood bats. While they do not crack or splinter like a wood bat, they do get dented and at a certain point can no longer be used for play. An aluminum bat delivers a distinctive “ping” sound when hitting the ball and they can cause stinging in the hands due to their stiffness.
Composite bats are constructed using reinforced carbon fiber polymers. They can be man-ufactured as one or two-piece bats to create a number of feel and performance options. Compo-site bats are more expensive than aluminum or wood bats and in most cases demand a break-in period prior to reaching their full potential.
While their performance factors can give them many advantages over other types of bats they are not recommended for use in cold weather below 60 degrees Fahrenheit as they then are prone to cracking. The materials used in the barrels lend themselves to a an increased “trampoline effect” which increase the speed at which the batted ball travels and is one of the factors behind the adoption of the BBCOR standards.
Hybrid bats are made out of two different materials, usually a composite handle and an aluminum barrel. They can offer some advantages that using a single material will not provide such as reducing the vibration and sting of an aluminum bat. There are also some wood bats made out of bamboo and other types of wood.
Pretty simply, one-piece bats are made of a single material throughout the bat. Most wood and aluminum bats are constructed in this way. This type of bat will produce more “feel” and sting the hands on a badly struck ball. Feedback of this type will help the player develop a better swing in an effort to reduce the stinging and consequently produce more consistent and solid contact. Single piece bats may also deliver more power due to the fact that they are more rigid.
Two-piece bats can be made completely of composite materials or by employing two ma-terials such as a composite handle and an aluminum barrel. A major advantage of two piece bats is their ability to minimize sting. This advantage must be balanced with the fact that the ball was still not hit correctly so the reduced feedback may lead to bad swing habits being reinforced. Two-piece bats also allow the manufacturer to take advantage of the properties of various materi-als in the creation of a hybrid bat. Some manufacturers have now moved to use more than two pieces bonded together in their pursuit of increased performance.
Individual Preference Points
Taking into account the varied choices described above you need to strive for a bat that will perform well and that feels good to the player and allows a free, fast swing. Features such as the bat’s knob, handle taper and grip are best differentiated by the player taking some swings to find the combination that feels best to them.
Now let’s take a look at some individual bats and point out some of the best bats available in 2018 the market.
Best Aluminum Baseball Bat: Marucci Cat7 BBCOR Baseball Bat
The Cat7 by Marucci is a one-piece, aluminum, BBCOR certified bat constructed out of the company’s strongest alloy named AZ4X. It is a well balanced bat that boasts of having a sweet spot twice as large as its predecessor. Thinner barrel walls increase the trampoline effect and leads to a smooth, consistent swing. Marucci’s AV2 anti-vibration knob features a harmonic dampening system to minimize negative vibrations and hand sting. This is one of the best metal bats out there and will set you back about $250 and includes a 12 month manufacturer’s guaran-tee. You can get it in lengths from 30 through 34 inches.
Best Baseball Bat For Cold Weather: Louisville Slugger Prime 917 BBCOR
Louisville Slugger has long been a trusted name among bat manufacturers. The Prime 917 is a 3-piece bat made completely of Microform composite materials to produce a larger sweet spot and a light swing weight for maximum bat control. The bat employs a patented TRU3 technology al-lowing independent movement between the barrel and handle to control vibration and deliver great feel on contact. It features custom lizard skin grips and an end cap to provide perfect weighting. Available in lengths from 31 to 34 inches, the Prime 917 retails for between $300 and $400.
Best Baseball Bat for Power Hitters: Louisville Slugger Omaha 517 BBCOR
If you like the Louisville Slugger brand you can also obtain a top-notch one-piece metal bat in the Omaha 517. The Omaha has been around for years and continues to evolve under the company’s guidance. The introduction of an improved stronger ST&UI+ Alloy blend leads to a durable one-piece bat. Its end-loaded feel makes it perfect for power hitters who desire a stiff stick with a huge sweet spot. Incorporating an end cap and lizard skin grips and a 31/32″ tapered handle, this bat delivers power and performance right out of the wrapper. It can be obtained in lengths from 29 to 34 inches and can be bought for less than $200.
Best Hybrid Bat: Easton Beast X-Hybrid
Easton has indeed created a beast with this hybrid bat which is manufactured with an EXACT carbon handle and an ATAC alloy barrel to create a slightly end-loaded yet balanced feel. Easton’s CONNEXION+ technology promises the best feeling two-piece composite bat on the market. The bat is BBCOR certified and comes in lengths from 31 to 34 inches. A 31/32” handle includes increased cushioning in a 1.4mm HYPERSKIN grip that allows the player to achieve maximum swing speed to take advantage of the large sweet spot and drive the ball. This bat will cost you between $250 and $350.
Best Youth Baseball Bat Under $100: Easton S500 Youth Baseball Bat
Here is a bat by Easton that is designed specifically for the youth player. Its one-piece design is constructed out of 7050 Aircraft-grade alloy creating a bat that is lightweight and enables great swing speeds. Its drop weight of -13 is not suitable for BBCOR leagues but is approved for USSSA and most other youth leagues. It is a perfectly balanced bat that features a large sweet spot as well as an ultra-thin handle of 29/32” to enable a more comfortable grip for younger play-ers. The bat also sports a user-friendly price tag and can be obtained for around $80.
Our review about best youth baseball bats.
Least Expensive Quality Youth Bat: Rawlings Youth Velo Ash -7.5
The Velo is a wood bat designed by Rawlings with the youth player in mind. It is a traditional wood bat that is inexpensive and created with features to help a younger player find their swing. The guaranteed drop weight of -7.5 makes for a light swinging bat that younger players can con-trol. Other features that will assist a younger hitter are the 2 1/4 inch barrel size, the 7/8 inch han-dle diameter and an ultra thin tac-grip. It will only set you back around $40 and is a great bat for the new player in your family who wants to improve their game.
Best Wood Bat: DeMarini D271 Pro Maple Composite Baseball Bat
DeMarini has created a winner of a wood bat with the D271. Manufactured using a composite handle and a frame inside the maple wood barrel the bat delivers a premium wood sound and performance. It has a 2 5/8” barrel and is BBCOR certified. Unlike other wood bats, this bat comes with a 1 year warranty and is more durable than the average wood bat. It is slightly end-loaded so is a great bat for the power hitter striving for that MLB sound when they drive one deep. This bat can be purchased for around $200 and comes in lengths from 31 through 34 inch-es.
Best Bbcor Baseball Bats: Combat MAXUM BBCOR Baseball Bat
Here is a one-piece composite bat from Combat that promises a 40% larger sweet spot than simi-lar bats. The seamless design allows for a longer barrel length with no dead spots. The Maxum is available in a variety of drop weights and styles to accommodate players from youth through col-legiate levels. The adult BBCOR certified bat is available in lengths from 30 to 34 inches with a 2 5/8” barrel diameter. It is balanced for a smooth, fast swing and is great for contact hitters looking for extended plate coverage. The high performance bat is reasonably priced at around $250.
Best Composite Bat: DeMarini CF Zen Balanced BBCOR
The CF Zen is a two-piece composite bat that is designed for maximum performance. Employing their patented Paraflex Composite material, DeMarini has manufactured a bat with precise weight distribution for a perfect feel and enhanced pop. Their 3-Fusion system integrates all components from the handle through the end cap to provide great weight control to promote maximum swing potential with a light feeling bat. The bat comes in lengths 30 to 34 inches and is a true hitter’s stick that will serve you well no matter what type of hitter you are. This top of the line composite bat costs around $450.
So Which is the Best Baseball Bat for You?
We hope this review of baseball bats has helped you find the right bat for you or your child. We have identified bats in a variety of materials and price points to get you going on your search. As you have seen, there are many variables to consider when making your selection. If money is not a concern the DeMarini CF Zen is the ultimate baseball bat and will be a welcome addition to your arsenal. If you are looking for a non-composite bat that will perform well in colder weather the Louisville Slugger Prime 917 is a good choice. The youth player in your family will be well served by the Easton S500 and it will not break the bank.
Remember that it is important to experiment with different bats to find one that feels good in the player’s hands and helps them achieve a fast, smooth swing to maximize their hitting potential. Good luck in your search for the perfect stick!