We have hit with every baseball bat from 2015, 2016 and 2017. And after at least a thousand in cage and in game hours from our testers, combined with several hundred more writing, researching and measuring bat performance, we think the 2017 Easton MAKO Beast is the Best Baseball Bat.
As we mention in every best bat article we write (and will in more detail below), the best baseball bats for most are not the best baseball bats for all. As such, we give more options in our best youth baseball bats and best BBCOR bats pages. Below comprises 19 baseball bats that have stood out, categorized by year.
- Best Baseball Bats 2017 – Top New Bat Brand Category Models
- Best Baseball Bats 2016 – Top Used Brand Category Models
- Best Baseball Bats 2015 – Top Brand Models By Category
- Video Ratings Process
- Criteria for Inclusion
- How The Scoring Works
- Why Trust Us?
Best Baseball Bats 2017 – Top New Bat Brand Category Models
|1||Easton MAKO Beast||Overall, Youth||5|
|2||DeMarini CF Zen||Big Barrel||5|
|3||Louisville Slugger 917 Prime||4.75|
|4||Louisville Slugger 617 Solo||BBCOR||4.5|
|5||Marucci CAT 7||4.5|
|7||Axe Hyperwhip Fusion||Tech||4.5|
|9||Warstic Gunner||End Loaded||3.5|
Of course, there are several great options in the 2017 baseball bat space. Our purpose in writing a best 2017 baseball bat article is not to shun them. Instead, in terms of an entire array of bat options that would fit most hitters, we looked for a baseball bat that would excel in the hands of the majority. Important features including the bat’s peak performance along the length of the oversized barrel, multiple sizing options, and a balanced feel, contribute to the 2017 Easton Mako Beast’s top ranking.
Barrel-Long Peak Performance
Four to five years ago, few bats in the newly formed BBCOR and accelerated break in BPF 1.15 test were capable of meeting those standards. This left room for a few bats to dominate the space. The early Easton MAKO’s are good examples of bats that figured out the standards early. Their uptake four or five years ago is proof of this reality.
More recently, most bats in the performance space are relatively close to the standard on at least some part of the barrel. The playing field has been leveled in terms of bat testing speed and the sweet spot of the barrel.
But what has yet to be leveled, and what drove us to choose the 2017 Easton MAKO Beast as the best 2017 baseball bat, is the performance of top-shelf bats off the center of the barrel and at slower pitch speeds. The Easton Beast, in all the feedback and testing we have performed, solves the riddle of off-speed performance and max off-center production.
Multiple Sizing Options
Most flagship bats from major vendors come in a variety of sizes. DeMarini’s CF series, Slugger’s 917 and Rawlings’ VELO or 5150, for example, have options for just about every hitter. Easton’s MAKO Beast is therefore not exclusive to this principle, but Easton offers extensive sizing in the bat.
The Easton Beast comes in a BBCOR, Youth Barrel, Senior Barrel 2 5/8 and a Big Barrel 2 3/4. The Youth, Senior and Big Barrel come in a number of drops and length options. The Easton Beast offers the largest array off iterations of any bat on the market today.
Not Too Balanced
A balanced bat is not necessarily better than an end-loaded bat. Preference for weight distribution of a bat is up to the hitter. In terms of ‘best bat’, therefore, a balanced design feature isn’t an objective measurement. With that said, a balanced design is preferred by well over half the hitters in the game. As such, the best 2017 baseball bat (i.e. The bat that will be ‘best’ for the most hitters) should be balanced. The Easton MAKO Beast, as well as many others, is such a bat.
Choosing the Easton MAKO Beast as the ‘best 2017 baseball bat’ should not give the impression the market lacks other worthy choices. Those looking for a BBCOR, Youth, Drop 5 or end loaded bat have a number of legitimate options. Even those in the balanced space, who aren’t keen on the Beast for any number of reasons, have legit substitutes.
Although nontraditional, with its extended composite end cap on a single piece aluminum, we recommend the 2017 Louisville Slugger 617 Solo in the BBCOR space. As we rate in our best BBCOR bats page, the ultra-light swing and hot out of the wrapper barrel make this a sweet swinging stick from Slugger.
The BBCOR space is replete with impressive bats so we hesitate to overstate our recommendation here. But, we suspect any 617 Solo hitter will be very happy with their purchase. With a more reasonable price point and a 29 inch BBCOR? Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
Although big fans of the drop 5 Easton MAKO Beast XL, we found the 2017 Marucci CAT 7 a favorite in the best baseball bats in the drop 5 category. The stiff feel of the one piece aluminum, and the sting dampening afforded by the unique knob design, gives this high marks across the board. In the drop 5 (and drop 8, incidentally) it comes highly recommendable.
If you are looking in the drop 5 space, it is likely you will find our best youth baseball bats article helpful.
Easton’s commitment to the youth barrel space, through the Little League World Series, leaves the Easton Beast as our best baseball bats in the youth barrel option. If that doesn’t suit your fancy, we recommend DeMarini’s Youth CF Zen as the best 2 1/4 bat. (Not to be confused with our best youth baseball bats article). DeMarini’s barrels perform great at all pitch speeds. The brand is committed to making the best baseball bats in the world, and in large measure, they accomplish that feat with their 2017 CF Zen line.
We recommend the 2017 DeMarini CF Zen in Big Barrel to anyone in the market for a top shelf big barrel bat. The Zen is the progeny of the well respected DeMarini CF8. The bat’s balance is the industry standard, the barrel’s performance is proven on the top levels of the aluminum and composite bat realm. In either the 2 5/8 or the 2 3/4 it is very difficult to go wrong with DeMarini’s CF Zen.
In some models, the CF Zen has been banned by USSSA. We suggest you take a look at our best youth baseball bats page to get more details. There are other options, but if your league allows for your particular Zen, we say go for it.
6. End Loaded: Warstic[/su_heading]
If pure end loaded power is preferred, then we recommend the Warstic single piece aluminum from Warstic. This choice, no doubt, is our most off-the-beaten-path selection of the entire list. As well, we should note there are several great options in the space like the CF Insane from DeMarini and the Z-Core XL from Easton. But, alas, we go rogue with the Warstic.
The Warstic bats are beautifully made and built for the big hitters among us. If bat speed is not your problem, and you are okay with hand sting on mishits, then the Warstic may be right up your alley. We have even more recommendations in the endloaded space. We suggest you start on our best BBCOR bats page.
7. Tech: Rawlings Quatro or Axe Hyperwhip
In terms of the newest tech in a bat, the 2017 Rawlings Quatro and the 2017 Axe Hyperwhip take the prize. The Quatro is the first four piece bat on the market. It adds to a traditional two-piece composite design with a composite collar for sting dampening and an extended inner composite sleeve starting from the end cap to increase durability and barrel size.
The Axe Hyperwhip extends a composite end cap on a single piece aluminum, but that end cap is asymmetric due to Axe’s unique one-sided hitting. Both should win industry awards for innovation.
Best Baseball Bats 2016 – Top Used Brand Category Models
To determine the best baseball bats 2016 edition, we ran a user generated poll. There, we pitted one 2016 bat versus another. We asked the user to click on their choice. Results were tallied and lists were made. After concluding, we tallied over 10,000 votes. This is, as far as we are aware, the largest user generated poll of bat opinion on the market. Much of this data influenced our best BBCOR bats and best youth baseball bats articles.
|CATEGORY WINNER||MODEL (REVIEW)||PRICE|
|3||Surprise Finish||Easton TORQ||Amazon|
|8||Perfect Rank||DeMarini Voodoo Raw||Amazon|
|9||Too Low||Slugger 716 Select||Amazon|
|13||Really Too Low||Rawlngs VELO||Amazon|
|25||Way Too Low||Adidas RBZ X3||Amazon|
As much as DeMarini and Wilson may not be willing to admit, the bats are very, very similar. They both serve the same market in the sense of a light swinging two piece composite bat with an oversized barrel. Both the CF8 and MAKO are also the flagship bats of the two major players in the space. They both come from companies with massive R&D and marketing budgets. In large measure, they perform very similarly along the length of the barrel and come in every drop and size imaginable.
We don’t put too much stock into the fact the MAKO ended on top of the CF8. The top two places jockeyed at 1 and 2 for the majority of the 10,800+ votes. As our last best baseball bats for 2016 of the season, we feel confident in proclaiming these two bats are the best baseball bats of the 2016 season. Full Stop.
The MAKO TORQ, and its spinning handle, hasn’t been the most well received technology addition in recent memory. Some have never quite come around to the idea of a spinning bottom hand. But, as we’ve mentioned before, the barrel is exactly the same as the top place finishing MAKO. Hence, it is not a breach in logic to assume the MAKO TORQ could be one of the very best baseball bats in the industry for 2016.
That doesn’t mean we thought the TORQ would end up 3rd in the final voting, beating out bats like the very popular 916 Prime and Combat MAXUM. This surprised us, but the people have spoken.
Three bats did not rank out as highly as we thought they should have. And as such, we thought they deserved a bit of a shout out in this write-up. For starters, Louisville Slugger’s 716 Select is one of our favorite bats of the year (and probably most favorite in they hybrid space). Its ranking of 9th (which is still respectable) still felt at least a good 2 to 4 spots too low.
The Rawlings Velo is also too low at 13—or at least that’s what we think. The VELO is a very well received bat, especially at the big barrel sizes. It’s a remarkably light swinging bat with great bat speed. As well, the bat’s BBCOR version is a great performer and used at all levels of the sport. In high school games we observed this year, the VELO was an absolute favorite.
Far, far too low was Adidas RBZ X3. This bat, probalby suffering as a new name in a very overstuffed market, was one of our preferred two piece composite bats with a light swing and oversized barrel. It would compete, as far as we see it, with the MAKO and CF8 which ended up winning the competition. But at 25 out of the 30 we measured? No way.
The bat known for the largest barrel ever was a fantastic find and fit by Combat. Sadly, Combat is out of the business. Easton has taken over the company and we have a sneaking suspicion they will continue making some type of the MAXUM. When it first came out people could not get enough of it. It is one of the best baseball bats in the last 3 years.
Best Baseball Bats 2015 – Top Brand Models By Category
Talk about tough decisions. The BBCOR market is absolutely flooded with quality bat options from 2015. While the nod could have gone several different directions, we found the CAT 6 from Marucci to edge out ever so slightly the competition. The CAT 6 is as smooth a swing as you’ll find in this year’s class. The pop is remarkable, the sting dampening appears miraculous, the balance is outstanding, the grip is plum, the look is graceful and the bat veritably rakes.
In it’s inagural year, we suggest Slugger’s 915 Prime as a fantastic choice for our best baseball bats list. Although the following years in the 916 and 917 are verifiably more durable and better reviewed, we think the 915 is a great choice. You can also find these with minimal use. The fact they are composite bats make it so they should last quite a long time. Just make sure there are no cracks on the barrel and you should be good to go.
The CF7, even in 2017, stands as one of the best baseball bats of all time. The drop 5, specifically, is an absolute ball killer. We were lucky enough to get a few of these the year they were released and many players still use those bats regularly.
No longer in the baseball bat market, RIP-IT once produced some outstanding bats. We were in love with the 2015 RIP-IT air elite. It made several of our best baseball bats lists and we can’t help but be a little sad knowing they no longer make bats. The two piece hybrid air elite was a stiff bat with great pop and a really good sized barrel. If you can still find one they are very much worth tracking down.
We love several bats in the 2015 Big Barrel Category. But none of them made us feel quite like the hero that Marucci’s 2015 Senior League Hex bat did. The bat really redefines barrel size and swing weights. The grip is remarkable and the feel at contact is butter smooth.
The Marucci Hex was the first real go round on massively barreled single piece composite bats. Combat, in the following year, took that idea to the next level with the Maxum. Still, though, the 2015 Marucci hex stands as one of the best baseball bats. You can still find them every so often too.
The 2015 2 1/4 Easton XL1 is the best 2 1/2 bat from the 2015 season. The bat is a proven pedigree from the 500 pound gorilla in the space. The Easton XL1 from 2014 is an endloaded bat that boasts a new paint job in 2015. The bat is durable, has noteworthy pop and is just endloaded enough to be swingable yet keep a disgusting pop.
Video Ratings Process
Criteria for Inclusion
What we didn’t make clear to the voter, and this was intentional, is the exact type of bat they were to consider. We expected readers to assume it was one of the best baseball bats for any given circumstance. Some of the bats, for example, were only BBCOR bats and not available to the senior league and big barrel worlds. Others have different compositions and constructions at different levels of play.
As such, we added every performance bat in 2016 that we reviewed (which includes all 2016 performance bats). From bats few have ever heard of, like the Axe Hyperwhip, to those that are seen everywhere like the MAKO and CF8, all performance based bats were listed.
How The Scoring Works
We should note this head to head competition in the 2016 user rating for best baseball bats is unique in the way it scores. It uses, similar to the way chess players are ranked, an ELO type system. This awards points based on not just winning and losing, but who you beat and who you lost to. A win against a high ranked bat adds more points than a win against a low ranked bat. The opposite is also true. The idea is to keep the scoring close and reward bats not based off popularity, but off player adoption. We think it does a decent job at this.
However, like most ranking systems, it doesn’t come without its problems. Most noticeably is how influential a single voter, who prefers a very low ranked bat over other topped ranked bats, can be in the rankings. It only takes a handful of “upsets” to push a top ranked bat off the charts. You’ll notice in the rankings, for example, how a few bats have more losses than wins, but are still in the top of the rankings. Other bats who win more than 50% of the time are often found below bats that lose more than 50% of the time. We hope the idea gives less popular bats a chance to move up in the rankings, but admit it may unfairly reward the lone wolf in the voting.
Why Trust Us?
Justbatreviews.com is an independent bat review site with 20 years of experience in baseball, softball and fastpitch bats. The site maintains the largest and most read repository of bat reviews in the industry and has done so since 2014.
Since 2013, we have spent numerous hours on the phone with every major bat vendor dissecting their bat construction and take on the industry. We have exchanged hundreds of emails with bat engineers, professional players, physicists and professional testers on bat performance. We have also spent countless hours at top level baseball and softball tournaments, games, and practices where some of the best baseball bats in the world are used.
Our recommendations, however, are far from bullet proof. Each hitter often has a more subjective connection with his bat than a scientific one. We freely admit that. Our intent, as it has been from day one, is to provide objective, third-party recommendations on bats. These insights come from outside the umbrella of marketing hype and vendor bias which plague the industry.