With a pretty expansive understanding of the market for baseball bats, we have helped hundreds of our readers decide what baseball bat they should get. Requests for direction pop up on Twitter or facebook or sometimes just directly to our email. We’ve even helped a couple major league players decide which bat to get for their son or daughter. We’ve recommended them far and wide for baseball, softball and fastpitch. Over those countless hours, here are four go to principles we use to help you decide when answering the age old question: What Baseball Bat Should I Get?
The next idea we implement to help you answer the question as to What Baseball Bat Should I Get? is the age old bat power vs bat speed conversation. In theory, you want both and, it turns out, more bat speed does in fact create more power. But when you consider the question of bat speed vs bat power by determining what type of bat you should buy, you must decide if your swing and hitting approach benefits more from a bat whose focus is better at hitting the long ball or just simply hitting the baseball.
On the whole, we have found players in the high school ranks and younger almost always benefit from a bat which is built more for bat speed. Advanced high school players and collegiate players, on average, benefit from bats more capable of hitting bombs.
In the end, however, it’s simply a matter of preference and there are plenty of exceptions to the general rules we state above. If you want a bat that feels like a lot of the weight is toward the hands to encourage bat speed, then look for a ‘balanced’ or ‘hand loaded’ bat. If you want a bat more committed to the long ball then look for bats that are referred to as ‘end-loaded’.
Once you’ve decided the type of swing weight you want and add that to the Rule of Seven above you’ll be well on your way to narrowing down your choices.
Hint: Although not always true, composite barreled bats tend to be easier to swing (read: balanced) than bats whose barrels are made of aluminum. That rule is often broken, but it’s common enough for us to be comfortable mentioning it.
The 3rd idea we use in determining what bat you should get is simple enough but, oddly, over looked enough that a handful of parents and players make this fatal mistake. Namely, make sure the bat is legal in the league in which you play.
High School and Collegiate play have the easiest regulations to determine. The bat needs to be a .50 BBCOR certified bat. These are easy to find and the term BBCOR is now ubiquitous even among the least knowledgeable bat sales reps. The only painful mistake someone may make here is buying a used BESR bat online. BESR is not BBCOR.
Once out of the BBCOR realm it gets a bit trickier and is highly dependent upon the league in which you are playing. Little League International, as an example, uses a 2 1/4 inch barrel bat with a 1.15 BPF stamp certification on the bat. Many other leagues are also under this 2 1/4 mandate umbrella and use the same bat standard rules. Other youth leagues use ‘Senior Barrel’ bats that cannot be larger 2 5/8 in their barrel diameter. Other ‘Big Barrel’ bat leagues can be as large as 2 3/4 in the barrel. Each of these bats need certain stamping and certification from the manufacturer to be legal in the league you play. There is simply no other way to understand the rules than by finding out directly from the league director or coach. Often, sadly, they aren’t quite sure either. If that fails, maybe try the league website.
Once you know the rule and what is legal, find the maximum barrel diameter in your league and get a bat with that maximum size. (Most leagues will allow smaller than the maximum, but not larger). Adding the maximum sized legal bat to the right swing weight and budget constraints narrows down your legitimate bat options to a very short list.
Once you have implemented the three principles above you may be surprised at how limited your options have become. For example, if you narrow down to a light swinging BBCOR in the $300 price range then you now have 4 options to choose from in 2016: Rawlings VELO, RIP-IT Element Two, Mizuno NightHawk and Axe Element Hyperwhip. Looking for a heavy swinging 2 3/4 in the $200 price range? Try: Louisville Slugger’s 716 Select or DeMarini’s Voodoo Raw.
At that point, with such a short list, see if you can find bats to hit. If you can’t get access to the bats from a teammate or demo house, try youtube or our extensive reviews to get a better feel for what you may be looking for.
If you are still hesitating after all that, we are confident you have come to an impasse that simply doesn’t matter any more. The two or three bats you are left with perform remarkably similarly and any differences in the two won’t mean much. Take the one that is cheaper or the one with the better paint job. Either way, just get to hitting at this point—you’ve found a bat that will serve your needs.
If you are still having trouble deciding, look to see if the final bats are one piece or two piece bats. We’ve previously discussed at length the differences between a two piece and one piece bat so you may want to refer to that to help make your final decisions.
We’ve recommended hundreds and hundreds of bats for particular players and have found that an appropriate budget, the focus on the correct balance point for the particular hitter, confirming the bat is indeed legal and then getting some hacks in (or watching that on YouTube) is plenty of research to find the bat of your dreams.