How to choose the best bat for baseball
It is really about finding the best baseball bat for you, personally.
In order to decide, you will need to know a few things about your game.
Will you mostly play with friends and family?
Will you take part in a league?
How experienced are you with different types of bats?
The answers to these questions will help guide you in choosing the perfect baseball bat.
Whether you are just starting out and know next-to-nothing about baseball bats, or you are eager to work up into the pros, I will try and explain what you need to know about choosing the right bat.
How long should your baseball bat be?
It’s important to find the bat length which feels most comfortable.
Most baseball bats vary in length from 27-34 inches. Anything longer than that is actually banned from some competitive fields.
A bat that is BBCOR certified, for example, cannot exceed a length of 36 inches.
Now, when it comes to finding the perfect baseball bat for you within that range, take the following steps:
- Use the below chart to pick the right size.
- When you receive the baseball bat make sure to verify that it’s the right fit. Test it out with the below method. If it doesn’t fit, return it!
How to find the perfect size baseball bat?
You can always follow a simple chart like this:
Method for testing out a perfect fit:
Hold an arm out to your side: The most comfortable bats are the same length as that distance measured from the center of your chest to the tip of your outstretched arm.
If you have a bat in mind, you can test if it is the right fit with two easy methods.
- Rest the head of the bat on the floor beside you. If your palm can reach the handle, it is likely a good fit.
- Place the handle of the bat to the center of your chest. If you can reach the barrel of the bat with your hand, this means it is a good size.
Now, how to find the perfect baseball bat weight?
Another important thing to consider is the weight of a bat. Not only do baseball bats vary in length, but there is a significant range in terms of weight. Heavy bats are obviously more difficult to control and require a stronger athlete. They also can generate serious power. A strong athlete that is using a light bat will never reach his full potential.
An easy test for weight can be done in under 30 seconds.
Method to test for perfect baseball bat weight
Hold the bat just above the handle and raise your arm, horizontal, in front of you. If you cannot hold this pose for 20 seconds without faltering or shaking, then the bat is likely too heavy. You want a bat that you are comfortable with, not just the heaviest bat for the biggest hits.
Sometimes athletes will train with an intentionally heavier bat. This is a weighted baseball bat, and its purpose is strictly for training. These bats are never used for competition.
Types of baseball bats available
The first division is between wooden and non-wooden bat. The pros use wooden bats, of course. But this doesn’t mean that you necessarily should, too. For lower leagues (all the way up to college) non-wooden options are the standard choice.
Composite bats are easily manipulated to meet one’s need, and some of the best baseball bats on the market are composite bats. They are made from a reinforced carbon fiber polymer, which is a fancy-sounding material that makes it easy to distribute a bat’s weight. Manufacturers of composite bats can produce bats that are weighted evenly throughout, or shift the weight so that the bat is end-loaded.
The thing about composite bats is that they require a few break-in swings. Roughly 150-200. This will give the bat its sweet spot (another advantage of composite bats is that this sweet spot is larger than in other types). Generally speaking, composite bats will be on the higher price end than options to come, but they are a quality choice.
These bats have been around a bit longer. You might also hear them referred to as metal or aluminum bats, though alloy is the most accurate term for the category as a whole. There are two major advantages of alloy over composite; price and break-in time.
Alloy bats tend to be cheaper than composite and other bats (wooden and hybrid, included). If you are looking for the best baseball bat for your money, this is probably it. And when it comes to break-in time, there’s no discussion. Alloy bats are ready to go out of the wrapper. The sweet spot, however, is generally much smaller than with composite bats. There’s also the problem of vibration. Where composite bats are designed to reduce the sting from vibration, alloy bats are not. Keep in mind that the sweet spot is smaller on such bats, too, and so a miss-hit is also more likely (no matter how good you are).
If only there were a way of combining the best parts of each… this is the inspiration behind hybrid bats. They take a non-vibrating composite handle and stick an alloy barrel on the end of it. Simplistic, but surprisingly effective in its purpose. These bats really do have a reduced sting effect. And due to the cheaper cost of an alloy barrel, the price range of the whole bat tends to fall somewhere between that of alloy and composite (as you might expect). The only setback has to do with balance—and this is only a setback for some hitters. See below.
One piece bats refer to wholly aluminum or composite (or wooden, for that matter) bats. That means the bat is a single piece from end to handle. This is what allows for such significant vibration in the alloy, even if baseball bat grip is high quality. But this same one-piece quality also gives the bat a more even weight distribution. These are the most balanced baseball bats and suit contact hitters best.
Two piece bats generally follow the combination described above in the hybrid section. They are composed of a composite handle, with an alloy barrel. Not only are alloy barrels ready to use on purchase, but they are more durable. Two piece bats are some of the most common baseball bats on the market.
One setback of two piece bats has to do with achieving a perfect balance between the alloy barrel and its composite handle. The materials are differently weighted, and so two piece bats are often end-loaded. That means they are heavier in the barrel than in the handle. This can suit power hitters but makes it more difficult for faster-swinging batters to get the right feel.
Choosing the best baseball bat for kids
The information above is largely useful for players who have already played the game a little. Those who know if they are a power or contact hitter, for example, and can decide upon a one piece or two piece style to match. So what about the best baseball bats for kids? The best baseball bats for youths? Well, things are both simpler and more difficult in this age group. They are difficult in the sense that there is a much wider variety in size and length. Simpler, because they can’t be so choosy.
You cannot say for sure that a child of 10 should use a certain length bat, because, well—have you seen many 10-year-olds? They’re all over the place. In height, weight, strength, and development. All of these things are to be taken into account when choosing a bat for your child, but you can begin by following the blue chart listed above. Find the appropriate height and weight of your child, then you can find the best length bat from there. Other considerations like weight and barrel size will depend upon something called ‘drop weight’. This will be discussed in detail further on.
If you are simply looking to work backward from a reliable brand, that can be an option also. Try Miken baseball bats; the baseball bat kids will love. Their selection ranges from toddler baseball bats all the way to training baseball bats for college and adult athletes. With the best youth big barrel baseball bats, too, Miken is a great place to start the search for your child’s first bat.
First, let’s talk barrel size. The limit for barrel is diameter is 2 5/8 inches. And a larger barrel size will do two major things:
- Increase your sweet spot; and
- Increase the weight of your bat.
We will discuss more about why you want to be careful about increasing your bat weight when we speak about length to weight ratio. For now, just know that if you want to increase you bat weight, a larger barrel size will do it.
Sweet spot and ‘pop’
The sweet spot on your bat is the area in which the ball meets your bat for the greatest output. It’s the prime zone you want to hit when trying to clear the fence. And a bat’s ‘pop’ just refers to how much power can be generated on the ball. Bats with good pop mean that when you strike a ball well, it will really go flying. These are what all the best baseball bats in the world have in common; a great pop.
A bat with a larger barrel size will often have a larger sweet spot. But remember, material has something to do with it, too. Composite baseball bats, after being broken in, tend to have naturally larger sweet spots. And bats with larger barrels also tend to have bigger sweet spots.
Best big barrel bat?
We will talk more about the best baseball bats in each category later, but for now, let me just offer a quick personal favorite for large barrel bats.
The Easton JBB16S400. With a barrel diameter of 2 5/8 inches, this beast has a huge sweet spot for all you big hitters out there. And the pop on this beauty will have the ball truly sailing. It is one of the best BBCOR certified bats on the market.
So what is a BBCOR certified bat?
BBCOR stands for Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution. A mouthful, yes, hence the (slightly) easier acronym. It’s a number, calculated to determine the trampoline effect of a bat. And a BBCOR certified is really just a bat that has been toned down to meet some basic restrictions. Let’s just spell it all out, then:
- BBCOR bats cannot exceed a barrel diameter of 2 5/8 inches
- BBCOR certified bats cannot exceed a length of 36 inches; and
- A bat’s length to weight ratio cannot exceed a figure of –3.
Which leads us to another fun term.
What is length to weight ratio? (And why is it often a negative figure?)
Length to weight ratio is also known as a bat’s drop weight. You’ll need two figures to determine this. The length of the bat in inches, and its weight in ounces. Here is the simple formula for determining your bat’s drop weight:
Weight of bat (in ounces) – Length of bat (in inches) = x (drop figure)
So, if you have a 34-inch bat which weighs 31oz, your bat will have a –3 drop figure. And the drop figure is an important thing to know about a bat. Not only for getting the best performance for your game but so that you don’t go breaking any rules.
Senior League and Youth League Drop Weights
Depending on which league you or your child play in, there will be different regulations on drop weight. In younger categories of Pony League and Little League ball, say, the drop weight can be low as –13.5. This is because the kids need to use seriously light bats, while still having a bit of length to them. The best baseball bats for youth leagues usually hover between -12 and -13.5.
High school and college bats, on the other hand, are required to have a –3 drop weight. Precisely –3. This means that you can opt for a longer or shorter bat, but the weight will already be determined by that choice (and vice versa).
Recent changes to regulation
In recent years, not only has the game changed significantly but so have the rules. For example, with the growth in baseball bat technology, there have only been more restrictions put into place. For those playing in Little League, there is even a specific list of approved little league baseball bats to choose from. The best baseball bats for kids will always fall within these limits, though, so there isn’t too much cause for worry.
And while college and high school bats are not exactly listed, they might as well be. They must be BBCOR approved. We mentioned what that entails above. Just remember that it is about the trampoline effect of a bat. It is also worth noting that by putting a limit on this effect, you are putting a limit on your potential hitting distance. This means that you really wouldn’t want to use a BBCOR certified bat unless you have to.
What about Major League baseball bats?
These are another thing altogether. Remember, all Major League bats have one significant difference to all of the baseball bats we have already discussed: they are wooden. There is significant variety among wooden bats (which will be discussed below) however, there is one common factor. They are not nearly as powerful as the advanced materials used in composite, alloy and hybrid baseball bats.
What if the pros used non-wooden bats, then? How different would the league be if athletes used alloy, composite or hybrid bats? Well, let’s just put it this way—we would be seeing home runs on repeat. The effectiveness of non-wooden bats is so much better that the game would likely have to adjust its field dimensions. Also, you would need to put netting across all fences to protect the fans. Seriously. People would be getting hurt. And it wouldn’t be a bad idea to start protecting the pitcher with mandatory head guards, too. Hence BBCORs strict regulations.
Best baseball bat brands
So, ‘where can I buy a baseball bat?’ You might be starting to think a little more practically, now, with all this information. You might already be wanting to find the best baseball bat for your money. Well, I’ll offer a couple of choices.
Easton baseball bats always rank highly, for a start, with some of the best baseball bats in the world. The Easton BB17MK is one of the most popular drop 3 weight bats, and is always up there on the college athletes baseball bat ratings. Many Easton lovers stay loyal for life, claiming that their Easton bat is the best baseball bat ever made. I don’t know about this, but they are always of a high standard.
Other leading brands include Combat and Rawlings. In the Combat range, you can find some of the best baseball bats for your money. Rawlings is a more comprehensive brand. I even read a ‘best baseball balls review’ which noted Rawlings at the top of the list.
Demarini baseball bats are also very popular. Of course, there are many factors that will decide which bat is right for you. Again, it’s difficult to say which is the best baseball bat in the world, outright. However, if you find a product from any of these brands in your size and style, then you cannot go far wrong.
How are baseball bats made?
It depends upon the material, and the quality. Alloy bats can be manufactured from different grades of aluminum and other metals. The higher the quality of alloy, the pricier it will be—and the better the performance. However, wooden bats also have a variety to them. The most common wooden bats are made of: Maple, Bamboo, Birch and Ash. And each of these has its own list of pros and cons.
Do big barrel bats hit farther?
Does a 3-wood drive a longer distance than a 7-iron? In my hands, maybe not always. But generally speaking, the answer to this question is yes. A bigger barrel will also tend to have a larger sweet spot, which will give the bat a better chance of achieving its maximum distance potential. Then again, if you particular swing is not suited to a heavier, large-barreled bat, then you might experience a less effective swing. And therefore, bigger barrel doesn’t always equal bigger hit.
Why are baseball bats hollow at the end?
This has to do with the trampoline effect we have spoken about. Since there is a hollow space at the end of the bat, when the ball strikes the material of the barrel, the material can bend back slightly and then spring back into place. This launches the ball much further than if the bat were solid all the way through. It also means that bats can be lighter. Imagine if your bat end was just one thick block of metal… you’d be lucky to even swinging the thing. Let alone kids. All of the best baseball bats for youth are not only hollow at the end, but very light.
What is the best type of wood for a bat?
We’ve already spoken on maple and ash varieties, briefly. Beyond these two, there are two more major options out there: Bamboo and Birch. Birch is an interesting choice, and is a great baseball bat for beginners. These bats are the most forgiving of mishits. So if you are new to wood, a birch bat is a perfect starter.
Then again, if we are talking about the very best, I would go with maple. It is the most common type of wood used amongst the pros, and it gives you the best pop for big hits.
Is an Ash better than a Maple bat?
Again, this answer will take a few factors into account. Better for whom? For those who are willing to sacrifice a bit of pop for a larger sweet spot, the answer might be yes. Ash bats tend have a larger area of trampoline effect because the wood is more springy than its maple counterpart. However, this quality also leads Ash bats to wear out more quickly.
What about bamboo baseball bats? Are they good?
Bamboo bats have one major pro over other wooden bats. They are the most durable. Bamboo is an incredibly strong material, and bamboo baseball bats are made from pressing strips of bamboo together. So bamboo bats can survive many more mis-hits than other wooden types. As far as performance is concerned, however, they do not quite match up to maple or ash counterparts.
How long is a major league baseball bat?
The most common length for major league baseball bats is 34 inches.
How much does a high school baseball bat need to weigh?
Remember the section on drop weight? Well, that has a lot to do with answering this question. Most high school leagues require that athletes use a bat with a drop weight of precisely –3. This means that if you want to use a 34 inch bat, then your bat must also weigh precisely 31oz. There are ways of manipulating the dimensions through barrel size and length in order to get a bat that suits your individual game. However, this drop weight figure of –3 must always be met.
What’s a good nickname for a baseball bat?
Cheap baseball bats, expensive ones; BBCOR baseball bats and everything in between. Whatever your level or price-range, I hope this article is helpful to you on your journey. Remember, the best thing you can do to find the best baseball bat in the world (for you) is educate yourself. Know yourself, and your own individual game, then refer back to the information given above and choose freely. If in doubt, follow this simple checklist:
- Does the bat fit your size?
- Does the material suit your individual needs? And
- Does it meet the drop weight (and other BBCOR) requirements of your league?
How to buy the perfect baseball bat infographic
Comparison of the Best Baseball Bat
|Rawlings Velo Hybrid Balanced (BBCOR)||Single Piece Hybrid||2 5/8''||/5||Check Price|
|Easton BB17MK Beast (BBCOR)||Single Piece Hybrid||2 5/8'||/5||Check Price|
|Marucci Cat7 (BBCOR)||One Piece Alloy||2 5/8''||/5||Check Price|
|Easton SL17MK10B Mako Beast Senior||Composite Two Piece||2 ¾”||/5||Check Price|
Read the full reviews here
Comparison of the Best Youth Baseball Bat
|Name||Drop Weight||Overall Rating|
|Combat VIGSL 110||-10||/5||Check Price|
|Easton Mako Comp||-10||/5||Check Price|
Read the full reviews here
Comparison of the Perfect Cheap Baseball Bat
|Easton S500||One piece alloy||2 ¼”||/5||Check Price|
|Easton Mako Beast Junior||Composite Two Piece||2 ¾”||/5||Check Price|
|Easton S3 Big Barrel||One Piece Alloy||2 ¾”||/5||Check Price|
|DeMarini CF Zen Balanced||Two piece composite||2 5/8”||/5||Check Price|
Read the full reviews here