With the new USABat standard hitting the shelves this month, we have been asked one question way more than all others. The general inquiry is, with the new bat standard handcuffing bat performance, why would anyone spend a significant amount of money on a premium bat that performs just like the cheap ones? They continue: simply buy the cheapest USA approved bat and learn how to hit better. At first glance their argument is reasonable, but upon examination it does not hold water. Let us explain below.
USABat vs USABat HR Derby: Ghost X vs VELO
We learn a couple things from this video:
- The Ghost wins 10 to 8
- Two piece composite bats feel better on the hands
- The Hitter in this video preferred the Ghost X
- We are still NOT sure the Ghost X is always better for every particular player
Reason #1 Why USABats will not be Created Equal
BESR, the standard predating BBCOR, allowed for ridiculously hot composite bats. When the standard changed to BBCOR there was a massive uproar similar to the outcry over the BPF 1.15/USABat shift. Yet today, some five years after BBCOR standards were required, take a few minutes at a high school game to count the number of kids using wood or low quality BBCOR bats.
Your answer will be close to zero.
In other words, proof is in the pudding that a standard change replicating wood performance will not lead to a bunch of serious players swinging the cheapest bats. In fact, we'd argue the opposite might happen. Let us explain.
Reason #2 Why all USABats will not be Created Equal
What is often lost in the claim that USABats' performance will mimic wood, is the misconception that bat performance and sweet spot size are one and the same. In some conversations the words might be synonymous, but in the USABat conversation they are not, and that makes all the difference.
Take note: just because a USABat can perform no better than a wood bat does not also mean it can only perform as well as wood for the same amount of barrel space. Wood bats' sweet spots are notoriously small, even compared to some good aluminum bats.
Top end composite baseball bats do a remarkable job of performing at the top of the limit for several inches within the barrel. Aluminum, although not as long as composite, still performs for a lengthier amount when compared to wood.
Just because wood bats and non-wood bats have the same max performance does not also mean that the bats perform the same across the length of the barrel.
Reason #3 Why all USABats will not be Created Equal
Swing weight is the main factor in bat purchasing. Players, especially youth players, need a bat they can swing. And turns out, the lighter the swing, the faster you can swing it.
Wood's number one issue in the youth bat space (and any space) is swing weight. Creating a drop 10 or (forbid) a drop 12 in wood is basically impossible. Even drop 8 wood bats suffer from massive thinning of the barrel and a very short size. And most durability suffers too.
This swing weight issue can be extended to composite vs aluminum, too. Composite, by its nature, can swing lighter than aluminum bats. And, as such, younger kids tend to prefer the light swing and big barrel afforded by composite.
This light swing and big barrel is the main driving force in bat construction. And that force is no more relevant than in the youth bat space. Without surprise, the bigger the barrel and the lighter the swing (assuming durability and standards hold constant) are the main driving forces for price increases in the youth bat space.
Buying the Most Expensive USABat?
We are not suggesting everyone run out and buy the most expensive USABat. Indeed, the market is new enough that we fully expect some mispriced duds. But, by no means do we concede the argument that all USABats will be created equal. There is simply no way this will hold true in the market.
Our bet on the best USABats for 2018 are the ones with a large barrels, a two piece design, and an array of swing weight options for the likes of youth hitters.