We have used and tested no less than 6 different pitching machines for this review. We have also read, watched and discussed other major pitching machines’ functions and feedback with a number of coaches, players and manufacturers. Although the race is heated, we think the Junior Hack Attack from Hack Attack sports is the best pitching machine for the money. Users like its serious durability, three wheel motion for great ball control and consistency, and reasonable price point. The machine’s ability to use all types of baseballs and softballs is a big plus too.
Three Wheel Machine Options
|Brand||Machine Type||Max Speed||Warranty||Feeder ?||Wheels||Pitch Types||Price|
|Junior Hack Attack||Both W/ Upgrade||75||5 Year||Additional||3||All||$2,199.00|
|Hack Attack||Both w/ Upgrade||100+||5 Year||Additional||3||All||$3,299.00|
|ATEC M3||Baseball Only||100+||5 Year||Additional||3||All||$2,799.00|
|Rawlings Pro Line||Baseball Only||100+||5 Year||Additional||3||All||$2,999.00|
|Triple Play Basic||Separate Machine||3||All||$2,099.00|
|Triple Play Pro||Separate Machine||3||All||$2,899.00|
There are three major reasons we think our advice on pitching machines is legitimate. For starters, we don’t sell pitching machines. We are not biased by the inventory in our garage, hoping someone may end up pulling the trigger. Second, we have experience with a number of pitching machines over the course of several years. From ATEC to Jugs and from Rawings to Iron Mike, we have used them all. This gives us some real insight into their accuracy and user friendliness.
The third reason may be the most compelling. We can decide the best pitching machines for the money because we were once the person on Google searching for the “best pitching machines for the money.” Then, upwards of 7 years ago, we put in a ton of hours trying to make sure our dollars were best spent. Now we speak from years of pitching machine usage under real team use. Through heat, cold, indoor and outdoor batting practice, as well as travel ball for pop flies, our pitching machine experience is tried and true.
The fact there are a number of different options in the pitching machine space prove there are also a number of needs and budgets. Clearly, one man’s vision for his pitching machine is not the same as the next. In that sense, our advice won’t be for everyone looking for the best pitching machines. It is not fool proof.
However, in terms of the back yard cage, high school or college coach looking to get the most bang for his buck on a batting machine, then we are confident our choice is the best one on the market. The reasons for that are to follow.
Compared to other three wheel machines, the Junior Hack Attack is nearly a steal. Granted, after spending $2,000, most walk around like they’ve just been robbed. But, in comparison to the market they compete directly against, it really is the best price.
When we bought ours years ago, you could only purchase the machine directly on their website. We called them, spoke to a real person, and then sent them our money. Today, you can actually buy this thing on Amazon with PRIME shipping for as cheap as they are on their site.
Occasionally, they do have a deal or two, so it is worth checking their site. You may also benefit from calling the group directly and telling them you read the review on justbatreviews.com. Not that that will give you any discounts, but it might not hurt!
Pitching Machine Type Benefits Table
|Machine Type||Price Rank||Ball Durability||Pitch Options||Speeds||Portability||Realism|
|Pneumatic||Cheapest||Best||Non Existent||Low – Below Average||Easy||Poor|
|Single Wheel||Cheapest||Worst||Non Existent||Below Average||Average||Poor|
|Two Wheel||Middle||Middle||Few||Average||Average||Below Average|
|Three Wheel||Most||Best||All||Above Average||Average||Best|
The Junior Hack Attack possesses the five components that make a great pitching machine.
If you need something that throws 90+, then check ATECs M3 or Rawlings’ Pro Line Three Wheel. If you want a single wheel machine that unrealistically pitches dimpled yellow balls, then Jugs’ Changeup or MVP is the favorite.
Pneumatic machines still have a long way to go. The barrel these balls are shot out from makes the hitting experience much less realistic than we would hope. But, in today’s market, the Zooka is the market leader.
Let us put the most obvious feature aside for the moment. That is, let us forget for a second about price. We will come back to that. First, let us build, virtually, our favorite pitching machine. After much thinking and theorizing, most will come to three conclusions about a pitching machine they would like to own.
If you are doing it wrong, you will spend more money on baseballs and softballs over the life of a pitching machine than on the actual pitching machine. Real, serious, leather baseballs are rarely inexpensive. Many pitching machines, especially those that have less than three-wheels, absolutely tear up the seems on a leather baseball. Don’t expect more than a few months of solid use from your baseballs and softballs with machines that use less than three wheels—especially if you are throwing a bunch of curve balls.
In fact, many machines suggest you don’t even use leather baseballs, but instead, the yellow dimple balls which will outlast the cockroaches. If we are being serious about baseball and softball, the yellow dimple balls simply don’t react, fly or treat your bat like a real leather covered baseball. A few manufacturers suggest you don’t even use your bat with yellow dimple balls as they are much harder than a traditional baseball and will ruin your bat. Kids taking their top shelf bat to the local batting cage to hit yellow dimple balls terrifies us.
The best pitching machine will not only pitch real leather baseballs, but will treat them nice enough to actually last a season or two. One way to accomplish this is more pressure points on the actual pitch point. Single and double wheel machines work by pinching the balls out at exaggerated spin rates. In fact, our experience is a machine with less than 3 wheels is much more likely to eat balls up. As such, the best pitching machines have at least three wheels.
Not only is ball durability a serious factor in the number of wheels your pitching machine uses, but it also greatly affects the ability to throw different types of pitches. Three wheel machines give you liberty for both curves and sliders as well as knuckles, true sliders and a number of different pitch movements.
Some two wheel machines are set up to throw curve balls. But, the adjustment from left to right handed throws, as well as other off-speed looks, are difficult and time consuming to hone in. Three wheel machines, where each wheel is independently measured and controlled, makes the changing of pitch types quite simple. In fact, after a few solid hours of use, you’ll find yourself capable of painting corners with a back door slider as well as dropping a deuce on the plate that starts on the hitter’s hip.
Single wheel machines offer no ability to throw anything but straight balls with an unrealistic backspin. For much the same reason, they also struggle to reach decent pitch speeds.
If you are strong enough, or have a big enough flat bed, all things are portable. But the best pitching machines for the money would be reasonably easy to move. Taking it from the indoor cage to the practice field and back to your backyard batting cage is a feature you’ll wish you had if you don’t.
This is where many three wheel machines fall short. They tend to be bulky and much less portable when compared to some single wheel machines or even pneumatic options. Our pick for best pitching machine for the money, is built with two wheels on the front end that make it, surprisingly, simple to move. If you are weak, don’t expect to get it into your truck bed simply. But a neighbor or players help can get that job done in a matter of seconds.
At 50 feet, a 70 mph fastball creates the same reaction time as a 90 mile an hour fastball. Move it up to 45 feet and your now talking about a 100 mph heater. We would expect our best pitching machine to be able to throw serious gas, but it is unlikely we would need it to throw a real 100 mph. If we want to see a faster pitch, simply move the machine closer.
Granted, there are some that need a real 90+ mph look, but the costs associated with getting top end speed never appear worth it. Depending on the make and model, moving from 70mph max speeds up to 90mph speeds are often a 50% price increase.
Some machines are so rigid, or incapable of changing spin rates, that using them in the field for consistent ground ball or fly ball practice is nearly useless. Three wheel machines, if they are not to bulky to adjust quickly, can create the right type of spin on hit balls. Want to throw a tailing right field drive by a left handed hitter? Done. A top spinning ding to third? Easy. An MLB sized pop fly? You got it.
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