If you’re looking for info on what bat has the most pop, you’ve come to the right place. Some argue BBCOR and BPF standards have leveled the playing field for top shelf bats, implying any particular model cannot be better than any other, as each bat can only be as hot as the standard allows. They conclude no bat has the “most” pop and bat preference is no more than, well, preference. There is some truth to this, as we discuss below, but there is another side to consider that proves certain bats do have more pop.
We define pop as batted ball speed, often referred to as exit velocity, while holding all other variables constant. Often those variables are so numbered the comparison of one bat to another is terribly difficult. To name just some of those variables: swing speed, swing weight (MOI), the ‘bounciness’ of the baseball, pitch speed and the area on the barrel where contact is made. Assuming we could hold those variables constant, the speed at which the ball leaves the bat would be consider the the pop.
The Empiricist’s Take on Bat Pop
In a dinner table argument, we could make the case that Barry Bonds’ bat—the bat GianCarlo Stanton uses now—is the bat with the most pop. Indeed, the Maple Sam Bat led Bonds to the home run title. And no one in recorded history has hit a ball harder off the bat than Stanton (123 mph). Ergo, the maple 2K1 Sam Bat has the most pop.
Does that ring true? Bonds’ home run title and Stanton’s 123 mph worm burner (that turned into a double play, incidentally), were aided by a strong guy with a strong swing. To say nothing of pitch speed, pitch angle, barrel contact location and a host of other variables that have nothing to do with the bat. Logic couldn’t prove the 2K1 Sam Bat has the most pop for everyone else. In fact, for all we know, had Bonds or Stanton used a different bat, results could have been better.
In the end, though, we would have consider that baseball isn’t played in a vacuum. Therefore, when the question is asked, “What bat has the most pop?” the answer must be one real life has proved—hence the Sam Bat. Indeed, the empiricist in all of us would struggle to rebut.
What Bat Has the Most Pop, For Me?
If we concede, for the sake of the dinner table, that the Sam Bat is proven as the bat that can create the best exit velocity (in real life), we simply change the question as to be more functional for us. That is, what bat has the most pop for me?
We submit the following three areas of insight to help you on your way.
Area 1: Pop Distribution is Not Created Equal
BPF and BBCOR standards test exit velocity at every inch of the barrel. (We assume, future USABat standard tests will too). This means every approved bat must pass the test at every inch and any over-performance at any spot disqualifies the bat entirely. It should not be assumed that BBCOR and BPF standard approval implies the entire length of the barrel performs the same. Indeed, no bat has yet conquered that feat.
It should be assumed that the distribution of performance peaks toward the center of the barrel and tails off towards the handle and end cap. That peak is referred to as the sweet spot. Some bats have longer sweet spots than others and some bats perform better toward the end cap and handle relative to the sweet spot than others. Some bats see a lot of change in performance when comparing their sweet spot to their extremities. Others are more uniform.
The above exaggerated chart attempts to capture the possibilities of peak performance along the length of the barrel. All three bats would pass BBCOR and BPF standards, yet clearly are not the same in terms of overall performance.
Who Has The Longest Sweet Spot?
There is considerable argument among bat manufacturers as to the ‘length’ of their performance sweet spot—and we’d expect no less. A few companies, like Mizuno, have tried to expand the length of their sweet spot along the width of the barrel (see what we are talking about here) and at least one other in the Senior League and Youth barrel space claims their sweet spot is less ‘mounded’ than other bats in the performance space.
Without manufacturers releasing their standard test data (they never have, and as far as we gather, never will) it will all be marketing hype. But, after years of hitting, we submit the length of sweet spot is the main differentiating feature in “performance” and “cheap” bats. We also accept that composite barrel bats tend to have a longer sweet spot than aluminum barreled bats. There are some exceptions to these rules, but if your goal is to find the bat with the longest sweet spot because your hitting style needs as much max performance barrel as is possible, then those rules hold true.
Area 2: Optimal Work In Periods
Even the best bats only perform at peak power for a limited amount of time. For aluminum it is directly out of the wrapper. For composite you must work the bat in by hitting it off a tee (250+ hits is generally recommended).
If your intent is to find the bat with the most pop, then verifying the type of barrel you have and lining that up with peak use performance is a must. Aluminum: right out of the wrapper; composite: work it in. You can read more about why composite and aluminum have different work in times here.
Of note, many claim composite bats continue to get hotter as they are more and more worked in. However, the best available data suggests there is an optimal performance period window time for max pop in a composite bat. It suggests they do begin to lose their pop after a thousand hits. Between 250 and 1000, the bat is in peak performance.
A bat’s trampoline effect is different at different impact speeds. Indeed, some bats bounce the ball better at slow speeds, while some bounce it better at fast speeds. Some do better at both. BBCOR and BPF standards do NOT test trampoline effect at different impact speeds.
It is a mistake to assume, as many manufacturers do, that a test certification ‘right up to the line’ of approval means their bat performs as well as any on the market. It doesn’t. The best bats in the space perform at maximum “pop” at both slow and fast speeds. It can take a 9 year old’s 42 mph swing on a 45 mph fastball and a 20 year old’s 85 mph swing on a 90 mph fastball to maximum distance. This art has taken a few manufacturers a lot of money and a lot of time to perfect. It is why, in large measure, a few bats on the market cost several hundred dollars more than a similarly “approved” bat at a fraction of the price.
As a very rough general rule, we have experienced better trampoline effect with composite barrels for slower impact speeds and better trampoline effect at higher impact speeds with aluminum barrels.
What We Learned About the Best Bat Pop
We learned a couple of things:
- Until proven otherwise, in reality, the bat with the best pop is the 2K1 Sam Bat.
- The bat with the “best pop for you” is defined by three things:
- The performance along the length of the barrel.
- The age of the bat and its work in period (aluminum is better new, composite is better worked in).
- Different impact speeds giving different trampoline effect—all bats are not created equal.
Finding the Best Bat Pop For You
In short, follow these steps to get the bat with the most pop:
- Buy performance bats with good bat reviews for hitters of your type, age and strength.
- Learn to appreciate not only the sweet spot’s performance, but the performance towards the extremities of the barrel.
- Hesitate buying used aluminum barrels for game use. Work in your composite bats.
- Don’t assume bat approval means equal bat performance.