Winning a national championship in NCAA DIV I baseball with a particular bat brand is as much of a stamp of approval on the legitimacy of a BBCOR bat offering as we can imagine. This year such an accolade falls on Rawlings who was swung by the Virginia men’s baseball team all the way into the winner’s circle.
Virginia, as well as several other collegiate teams, gravitate towards Rawlings for, among other things I am sure, their serious commitment to hot out of the wrapper alloy barrels (opposed to composite barrels). Collegiate players, post BESR standards, tend to prefer bats which both don’t require a break in period and have the added weight alloy barrels provide over composite. Hence the reason Rawlings, and their commitment to hot out the wrapper alloy barreled bats, does so well among the collegiate ranks.
In fact, Rawlings is the only bat company in the ‘Big 4’ that does not offer a pure composite barreled bat–that is, until an update in the big barrel VELO this year. With that exception, Rawlings continues to produce three performance bat lines with the perfected use of alloy in the barrels.
When these bats are more accessible we will write more in depth performance reviews (Done: 2016 VELO, 2016 5150) with player and cage feedback. In the meantime we simply point out what you should look forward to from the best bat line in baseball (at least according to a certain team in Virginia).
2016 Rawlings 5150 Review
No company has perfected the single piece alloy baseball bat like Rawlings in the 5150 line. This bat has no frills, is stiff through the handle for maximum feel and is a single piece ignition stick made for maximum energy transfer to the ball. Collegiate teams who swing Rawlings mostly swing this traditional feel bat because it’s hot out of the wrapper, responds much like a wood bat and has a medium to heavy balance point made for big guns and big bombs.
This year’s 5150 will have an upgraded aluminum alloy and a color up from the 2015 5150 version. But the 2016 version will still be a stiff fuse made for players who care more about fireworks than an occasional stingy hand. Of course there is one exception to that: a new 2016 Senior League version of the 5150 will be a two piece hybrid model! More to come on that bat as we get some swings with it. (See the full 2016 Rawlings 5150 Review).
Expect the 5150 in at least a BBCOR and 2 5/8 drop 10 for 2016.
2016 Rawlings VELO Review
Like the 5150, the VELO (pronounced VEE-LOW) is a stiff one piece alloy bat. It differs from the 5150 in an extended composite end cap whose light existence pushes the balance point of the bat more towards the hands. As a result, the VELO has a lighter swing weight than other Rawlings bats and, by some measurements, is one of the lightest swinging bats on the market per given length.
The 2016 VELO will be similar to the 2015 VELO model. There will be, as far as we can gather, no end loaded version of the VELO like there was last year. The VELO should find its home in younger players looking for added bat control and speed.
For sizing you should expect the BBCOR; Drop 5 and 12 in the 2 5/8 Senior Barrel; and a drop 13 in a 2 1/4 Little League barrel. As well, there will be a new two piece composite VELO version for 2016 that we are very excited about. (See the full 2016 Rawlings VELO Review).
A more comprehensive review based on live hitting of the bat can be found here: 2016 Rawlings VELO Review.
2016 Rawlings TRIO Review
If the name of the VELO were the DUO (because of its two pieces in, one, an extended composite end cap and, two, a single piece alloy barrel and handle) then the design of the Rawlings’ bat named the TRIO would be more intuitive by name. The Trio, like the ‘DUO’, also has, one, an extended end cap with, two, an alloy barrel. But it also has a third piece in a composite handle. This makes it a two piece hybrid bat with the addition of the extended composite end cap to create a true three piece bat. Hence, Trio.
The 2016 TRIO doesn’t appear to have any updates form the 2015 TRIO version aside from the color up. As we get this bat in hand and get some player feedback we will write a review on its performance.
At first glance, the 2016 Rawlings line doesn’t appear to come with many changes from 2015. Although the upgraded alloy in the 5150 and the new hybrid senior league in the 5150 will be interesting to test and report on. But when you are winning national championships at the highest level of alloy and composite bat baseball, why change anything?