These days, we find the lack of 29-inch BBCOR bats odd. As BBCOR regulations are forced on younger and younger players, the market for short and light swinging sticks in the BBCOR arena grows. Yet, companies have not responded in kind. Most aluminum and composite bats start at 31-inches. By our count of 2017 models, only 8 come in a 30 inch. Of those 8, only 3 are also offered in a 29-inch. There are no BBCOR bats (non-wood) in the 28-inch realm.
29 Inch BBCOR Bats List
|Louisville Slugger||516 Omaha||$$|
|Louisville Slugger||617 Solo||$$$|
29-Inch BBCOR Bats Article Contents
Who Needs a 29-Inch BBCOR Bat?
Since 2014, the proliferation of leagues requiring bats with .50 BBCOR standards has increased dramatically. This creates problems in that BBCOR bats require a drop 3 makeup. (The drop, you probably know by now, is the numerical difference between the weight of the bat in ounces and the length of the bat in inches).
As such, 31 inch drop 3 bats, the length most BBCOR bats begin, must weigh no less than 28 ounces. Yet, at 28-ounces several young BBCOR players will struggle mightily for legitimate bat speed. Remember, just a few short months ago, many of them were swinging 21 to 24 ounce sticks. Now entering the BBCOR realm, a 28 ounce bat might be the death of their baseball endeavors.
A few bats in 2017, which is a few more than 2016, come in a 30-inch length. These are a nice addition, but at 27 ounces might still be too big a jump from 22 or so ounces just a few months previous. There are three 29-inch BBCOR bats in production for 2017. That number is up from one in 2016. We discuss them below.
Why Only Three Bats in the 29-inch BBCOR Market?
Two reasons, generally speaking, explain why only three BBCOR bats come in a 29 inch. The first, and likely most dominant, is the lack of market need. If you made it to and are reading an article detailing short BBCOR bats, you’ll likely find that claim ridiculous. But the truth is, there simply are not huge swaths of players needing or wanting a short BBCOR bat. This doesn’t mean there shouldn’t be a need—many players use bats that are way too long for them. Forbid they start their freshman year with some physical evidence that they aren’t very strong.
This brings to mind a shirt we think we should produce. It would read:
Swinging a Shorty Takes Guts.
Now take a look at my OPB.
The second reason not many bats are produced in a 29-inch is the fact that this size is rather difficult to produce. As bats get shorter, they become more difficult to produce at a certain swing weight while still withstanding impact and performing consistently across the barrel at a defined barrel diameter. The Rawlings Quatro, as one example, does not come in a 29-inch, let alone a 30-inch, most likely due to the fact that the engineering is not possible. As such, the three bats that come in a 29-inch are rather simple bats.
The Three 29-inch BBCOR Bats
Two of the three bats are Louisville Slugger branded. The other is Easton.
2017 Easton Z-Core Speed
The Z-Core Speed is a single piece aluminum bat made with a tapered inner barrel that allows for a monster sized barrel. It is a preferred bat among many collegiate teams with Easton Contracts and it is not uncommon to see it at the plate during any given collegiate game. At 29 inches, it is the lightest swinging BBCOR bat Easton makes.
Last year there was only one 29-inch BBCOR bat on the market—the 516 Omaha from Louisville Slugger. That bat, recreated for the 2017 season, still comes in a 29-inch. It is the least expensive of the other 29-inch BBCOR bats and serves as an entry level bat in the performance space. With that said, several collegiate players appreciate the stiff feel of the 517, and since they are stronger, swing the 517 Omaha in a longer size (like a 33 inch).
Our favorite BBCOR of 2017 comes in a 29-inch. In fact, in some measure, the 29-inch offering is part of the reason we like it so much. Unlike the other two bats on the list, the 617 has some tech built into an extended composite end cap. This helps drive down the swing weight even more. The 617 is a new addition to Slugger’s line this year, but takes a page from the Rawlings VELO which uses a similar design. The VELO, however, comes in nothing shorter than a 31 inch bat. Why? We may never know.
29-Inch BBCOR Bats Recommendations
With three options in the 29-inch BBCOR space recommendations are simple. Each bat swings remarkably light, and by our calculations, they are within a few percentage points of each other. Each has good performance along the length of the barrel with the Z-Core and 617 likely outperforming the 517.
On the whole, if you want the bat with the biggest barrel, choose the Z-Core. If you want the least expensive bat, choose the 517 Omaha. If you want the bat we think is the best in terms of a “value” buy, then the 617 Solo is your stick.
We are not sure bat recommendations have ever been any easier for us.
29-Inch BBCOR Bats Resources
There are a few places to which we referred during this write up. You might find them helpful. Justbats.com has a useful search feature, in that you can search by 29-inch BBCOR bats only. Amazon reviews on the 617, 517 and Z-Core lines are sometimes insightful—although usually not. Of course, our bat buying guide might be worth your time if swing weights and bat sizing interest you.