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Bat Buying Guide

Shopping for a baseball bat can be challenging due to the varying advice you can get from all kinds of different sources. This page offers you a comprehensive guide to help you navigate your initial research. We must make clear that none of the charts and methods shown here offer be-all-end-all answers. Rather, they present probable ranges for most players. The final test should always be evaluating swing technique, speed and control the player displays with his bat of choice.

However, this section should allow you to carefully narrow the selection process before you go on and choose your brand and model. Bat technology has evolved considerably in recent years. Bats can be made of wood, alloys, composite or an alloy/composite hybrid. Composite is the latest and most performance inducing material currently used in making bats.

Our guide will help you:

  • Correctly approximate bat length according to weight and height of player
  • Correctly approximate bat length using the player’s own body as a guide
  • Find appropriate bat length and drop* ranges by junior age groups
  • Understand the pros and cons of the different bat materials
  • Understand the rules and regulations the bat industry and all players are subjected to

*See section “What is Bat Drop”  for an explanation of the term “drop”.

 

Overall Weight to Height Chart

*Adult players should find a bat that can be swung effortlessly and allow the sweet-spot to pass through the middle of the hitting zone as consistently as possible, according to the player’s favored batter’s box positioning (length range from 32” to 34”).


Measuring the Player for a Bat

 

There are a few different ways to measure a person for the proper bat length, but we prefer one that uses arm length as a barometer. The player should stand and extend his or her arm parallel to the ground to one side. The knob of the bat should be grabbed by the last knuckle of an extended middle finger and the barrel held to the player’s chest. If the bat is the right length, the very end of the barrel should be directly in front of the sternum:

 

Remember that this is simply a tool to help choose a bat from the store display that the player can then go swing in an appropriate area for further evaluation. As a general rule, junior players should not upgrade to more than an inch more than their current bat length.

 

What is Bat Drop?

 

Bat categories are determined by what is commonly known as bat drop. Drop weight is the difference between the length (in inches) and weight (in ounces) of the bat, so a bat that is 30 inches long and has a drop weight of -10 will weigh 20 ounces. The bigger the drop weight, the lighter the bat. A lighter bat helps produce more speed, but a heavier bat (for a player strong enough to swing it without any barrel drag) produces more power. That is why a player should always use as heavy a bat as he or she can comfortably swing.

 


Bat Size Rules and Regulations (Alloy and Composite)

 

USSSA Bats

Bats featuring the “USSSA 1.15 BPF” sticker will be legal for USSSA play. These bats vary in barrel size from 2 5/8” to 2 3/4”. The weight drops range from -12 to -5. USSSA bats are NOT legal for use in leagues playing under the new USA Baseball Bat Standard.

USA Baseball Bats

Bats with the USA Baseball logo can be used in leagues or tournaments that fall under the “Little Leagues” accreditation. The performance standards set for USA Baseball approved bats are more severe than the USSSA’s, meaning they have less pop. The new USA baseball bats can range in barrel size from 2 1/4” to 2 5/8”. The weight drops can vary from -13.5 to -5. For USSSA players, you should ask if your league allows USA Baseball bats before buying.

 

18U-and-up (BBCOR)

 

This standard is designed to measure the trampoline effect of the bat to the ball on impact, rather than just the exit speed of the ball. This makes BBCOR bats perform more like wood bats. Non wood bats used by players 16 y/o and up should have a league-required -3 weight drop and can range in size from 31” to 34”. A new Baseball Quebec rule for the 2021 season now allows U15 Elite (AA) level players to hit with bats that have a maximum drop of 5 (-5).

 

Fastpitch and Slowpitch Softball Bats

 

The league or tournament you play in will determine which bat regulations you should adhere to when purchasing a fastpitch or slowpitch softball bat. It is best to check your league’s rules and standards before purchasing a bat. For more clarity on softball bat stamps, we would refer you here.

 

 

Bat Types and Materials

 

Once you have figured out the proper bat length, drop and insured it falls under league regulations, you can start focusing on performance level. That will be mostly based on the type of material used in the manufacturing of the bat*. Non-wood bats can be divided into three categories, from best to worst performance (and consequently, highest to lowest priced):

    • Composite Bats
    • Hybrid Bats
    • Alloy Bats

*Note that wood bats are mandatory in some higher-level baseball leagues (check your local regulations)

 

Composite Bats

Composite bats are made with a layered fiber material, which makes it easy for the manufacturer to control the weight distribution of the bat. Composite bats can either be balanced (weight is evenly distributed) or end-loaded (the bat has more weight at the end of the barrel, giving it a heavier swing weight), which gives the consumer more options to tailor the bat to his preferred swing style.

Pros of Composite Bats

    • Reduced vibration to the hands, minimizing sting from a mishit ball
    • A larger sweet-spot, which means better forgiveness on non-centered contacts
    • Better pop on contact, created by a trampoline effect stemming from thinner, flexible barrel walls

Cons of Composite Bats

    • More expensive than alloy bats due to the complexity of the manufacturing process
    • Using a composite bat in temperatures below 60 degrees (15 Celsius) will decrease performance and can cause cracking
    • Requires a break-in period before the hitter can reach the full power potential of the bat; here are a few break-in tips:
      • Hit between 150-200 hits with a regular baseball or softball, not a rubber batting cage ball
      • Slightly rotate the bat each time you hit the ball, so you evenly break it in - this ensures bat durability

 

Hybrid Bats

Hybrid bats combine a composite handle with an alloy barrel. This design gives the player the advantages provided by composite’s light weight and anti-vibration properties while also benefitting from the cost saving and durable alloy barrel.

Pros of Hybrid Bats

    • Not as expensive as composite bats
    • Lighter swing weight than all-alloy bats due to composite handle
    • Do not require a break-in time, meaning they are prime right out the wrapper
    • More durable barrel than composite bats

Cons of Hybrid Bats

    • Not allowed in some leagues (check your league regulations)
    • Smaller sweet-spot and less forgiveness than composite bats
    • Less pop than composite bats
    • Handle can crack if compromised or under colder temperatures

 

Alloy bats

Alloy bats, also called metal and aluminum bats, were the first non-wood bats produced on the market. Alloy simply means that the bat is made of a mix of different metals. The composition of that mix determines the bat’s performance level, swing weight and price.

Pros of Alloy Bats

    • Not as expensive as composite bats
    • Do not require a break-in time, meaning they are prime right out the wrapper
    • As a general rule, they are more durable than composite bats (composite can crack while alloy materials will mostly dent)

Cons of Alloy Bats

    • Smaller sweet-spot, which translates to less forgiveness on off centered contacts
    • Almost no trampoline effect, which translates to less pop, as metal is less flexible than fibre-based composite
    • Most alloys are heavier than composite
    • Since layering isn’t an option with alloy, it becomes more difficult for manufacturers to fine-tune bat swing weight and barrel performance

 

One-piece Bats vs. Two-piece Bats

 

There are a few reasons that explain why two-piece bats are more expensive than one-piece bats. The redeeming feature of two-piece bats is a connexion system that serves as a joint between the handle and barrel. This connector has positive feel and performance-based effects.

The feel benefit comes from the dampening of vibrations the joint provides the hitter on contacts. The connector effectively acts as a shock absorber. The performance benefit is derived from added barrel drag and release on approach and contact, stemming from the flex created by the connector between handle and barrel. For that same reason, two-piece bats also offer more forgiveness on off sweet-spot hits.

On the other hand, one-piece bats do provide the more powerful hitters a slight advantage on centered (or barreled) hits, precisely because the stiffness of the bat offers a full energy transfer to ball, with no dampening on contact.

 

Remember, fine-tuned bat-fitting is an art and nothing can replace an expert eye observing the hitter in full motion to ensure you end up purchasing a bat that fits your particular needs. If you have any questions or hesitations as to which bat to buy for you or your kid, don’t hesitate to visit anyone of our three locations. Our hitting experts will be happy to lend you a helping eye!

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