Whether you are a young baseball player – perhaps, just starting out – or an older one with some experience – or perhaps, none at all – one of the primary concerns you will have is selecting the best baseball bats for you. With the recent advancements in technology, it is no longer as simple as just walking into a sports store, swinging different bats and picking the one that feels the most comfortable. You have to consider various factors that will affect your game and of course, your wallet.
So how do you figure out which are the best baseball bats out there? First of all, you will need to consider whether you are playing the game just for recreation or whether you intend to take part in competitions. You will then need to take into account other features such as the material the bat is made of – for example, do you want more ‘pop’ or are you more concerned about the time taken to break in the bat?
You will also need to think about league rules, since pretty much every league will have regulations in place about the type of bats you can use. The weight and the length of the bat will also affect the performance, since they determine the drop of the bat. The barrel diameter will also play a role, especially depending upon whether you are a young player or an adult. And, of course, one can never discount price as an all-important factor – your wallet will in the end be a major consideration when you select the baseball bat meant for you.
Technology has ensured that you as a baseball player have more choices than you ever did before. This can, however, be detrimental as the range of choices means it becomes difficult to choose and the choices can be confusing. While there may be some baseball bat reviews out there that tell you what you should be keeping in mind while buying a bat, our baseball bat reviews go one step further and don’t just tell you which bats to consider but also how they compare in terms of factors such as price, material, length, weight, barrel and league requirements.
Whether one likes it or not, price becomes an essential factor to consider when purchasing anything. This is especially true of baseball bats as some of the best baseball bats can be very expensive. Many people are willing to go with the cheapest option available; something that is completely understandable given the aforementioned high prices.
At the same time you must be careful to not rely so much on price that you compromise on what suits you the most. There is no point in saving money on one of these only to find that the bat you have selected isn’t powerful enough to give you the kind of hits you need or doesn’t have good ‘pop’ or dents easily (in the case of an alloy bat). You will just end up wasting more money getting this one fixed or buying another cheap bat and you will not gain in terms of performance.
A lot of factors can affect the price of a baseball bat: the material used, the technology behind the bat, the leagues it can be used for and of course, the brand name.
2. Rule of League
Another very important consideration you have to keep in mind is whether you are planning to use the bat for competitions or whether it is more of a recreational tool. If it is purely recreational then you just need to find the bat most suited for you and go with it. However, if you are playing in a league you need to ensure that the bat you buy meets the rules and standards of the league. Most high school leagues require.
- A bat that has a diameter of not more than 2 5/8 inches
- The ‘drop’ (explained below) must not be more than minus 3
- The bat can only be made of wood or non-wood material
- Aluminium bats must be Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) bats because if the ratio is higher then pitchers cannot move away in time to avoid being hit by the ball
You also need to keep in mind the fact that certain competitions may specify what bats you can or cannot use. If you have been practising with one bat and you suddenly find out that a competition does not allow that bat, you could face problems. First of all, you will be used to your bat. Second, you might not feel as confident with a different bat. All of this will in turn affect your performance.
So this part isn’t as simple as finding the best baseball bats out there. You need to find out the rules and regulations in place for your league so that you can choose an appropriate bat.
The length and the weight of the bat play a significant role in its performance. The biggest thing that matters here is how that length and weight work for you. Depending upon your own weight and height, you will need to pick a bat that is best for those in your category. Don’t just concentrate on one factor. You may have the right length for you, but the bat may be too heavy or too light to give you the right swing.
To figure out the best length for you here’s how to do it
- Hold your arm out to the side keeping it straight. Measure your arm from the shoulder to the tips of your finger
- Check the chart given below to see what length is best for you based on your weight and height
Therefore, if you are of more than 6 feet in height and weigh between 171 to 180 lbs, you will want a 34” bat.
- The table alone is not enough. To ensure that the bat is comfortable for you, hold it by your side. If your palm is able to reach the handle, the bat should be comfortable for you.
- Also, hold the knob of the bat against your chest, while the bat faces outward. Reach out your arm and if you’re able to clasp the barrel, it is the proper size.
Along with length and weight comes in another factor known as ‘drop’. The drop of a bat is basically the length of the bat subtracted from the weight of the bat. For example, if a bat weighs 30 ounces and has a length of 33 inches, the ‘drop’ of the bat is -3. Bats with lower drops perform with more power. Bats with larger drops have a higher swing speed because they are lighter. You need to keep in mind exactly what you want out of your bat.
The barrel diameter of a baseball bat is also known as the barrel profile, so don’t be confused if you hear the term profile. Youth Big Barrel Bats, which is what we are looking at over here, are bats which have a barrel diameter of either 2 5/8 or 2 ¾ inches. As per the rules of the high school and collegiate baseball leagues, the baseball bats used by these players are not allowed to extend beyond 2 5/8 inches. For all adults, this is the best barrel diameter to select as this is the one approved by most leagues.
The barrel of the baseball bat determines how the ball will be hit, how fast it will travel, the speed at which you swing and your hitting technique. In addition, the leagues don’t just have rules about the diameter of the barrel but also about what material can be used and whether the barrel has been corked or not. Corking refers to the practice of hollowing out a baseball bat and putting cork in it – something that increases the speed with which the bat hits the ball but does not reduce the power with which one hits. In general, bats with corking are not permitted.
Baseball bats are made of three different types of material – composite, alloy or wood. Composite bats are generally made of a reinforced carbon fibre polymer which is also known as composite. Alloy bats as the name suggests are made of metal – mostly aluminium. Wood bats are made of woods such as hickory, maple, ash or even bamboo. Ash is the most common wood used.
In terms of performance, composite bats are considered far ahead of alloy or wood bats. They are more durable, can have their weight distributed evenly or weigh more at the end of the barrel, dampen the sting or vibration to the hands when the ball hits the bat and the sweet spot on such bats is larger and they have more ‘pop’. On the other hand, these bats tend to be more expensive and need more time to be broken in.
Alloy bats don’t generally require a long break-in time. They are cheaper than composite bats and can be used even when dented. But at the same time the sweet spot is smaller and the ‘pop’ is less. Also, the more expensive the alloy bat the better it is.
Wooden bats have been traditionally used. Ash is the most common one and is very flexible and durable. Maple is much harder and provides more strength when hitting the ball. Birch is a combination of a hard surface and better flexibility. It also has a lighter swing weight.
Major league baseball only allows wooden bats, so if you are a professional you may not want to consider anything else. The BBCOR leagues – the ones for high school and college games – allow composite and alloy bats but have certain extra regulations with regards to the composite bats’ trampoline effect – how fast the ball rebounds after being hit by the bat.
When buying the best baseball bats for children, price becomes an even more important factor because children will outgrow their bats. At the same time, however, you cannot compromise on the type of bat you buy for your child to ensure that the child performs his or her best on the field.
The problem here is that children will often want what their friends and/or teammates have. However, the bat in question may not be optimum for them and you will only find out about this after you have bought it. No one wants to spend hundreds of dollars on something they will not be able to use.
2. Rule of League
You will need to ensure that they bat you buy for your child is something that is approved by the league he or she is playing for. For example, some leagues that are meant for those up to 12 years, such as Little League Baseball, do not allow the barrel diameter of the bat to be more than 2 ¼ inches. However, PONY League Baseball and Cal Ripken League Baseball set a restriction of 2 ¾ inches on the barrel diameter. There might even be alloy bats that the ASA might not allow.
For children the drop (explained above) depends greatly on their age, weight and height. Younger players will have the need for a higher drop since they are small and not so strong and so require a lighter bat. Older children will need a heavier bat and thus a lower drop since their strength will usually improve as they grow older. However, remember that the drop allowed by most high school and college baseball league rules is -3.
Below are the tables given to indicate the bat drop that works best for children:
Little League 1 ¼” Baseball Bats
8 – 9
10 – 11
12 – 13
24” – 26”
26” – 29”
28” – 30”
29” – 32”
(-13.5) – (-12)
(-13.5) – (-10)
(-13) – (-10)
(-10) – (-9)
Buying a baseball bat may not necessarily be a long term proposition but it certainly can be an expensive one and hence requires plenty of forethought and research. Make sure that you have all the information in hand, have determined suitability and most importantly know the regulations before you set out to buy one.