Combining all the serious bat guides on the internet into one master bat guide might be useful to new bat buyers. Although many have written a ridiculous amount of information on buying the right bat, no one has yet aggregate them all.
Turns out, bat vendors are not too interested in linking to other bat vendors.
Since we stand at the cross roads of many of these vendors the idea of making a guide of the bat guides makes sense. We studied the dozens of bat guides easily found on the internet and put together the highlights and links below.
In terms of the most intuitive Bat Guide out there, Dick’s Sporting Goods’ bat guide is our favorite. It breaks into different sections well enough, doesn’t crush you with more information than you need and navigates well into bat options they have in stock. The video’s in the sizing sections are super useful too, especially for those who would rather listen than read. There’s legit but cursory information on bat anatomy and that is built for the newbie looking to understand just enough to make an informed decision.
Every bat guide covers four main areas. Bat Construction, Bat Sizing and Bat Leagues. Here’s a rough overview with some links for further reading below.
Like we cover elsewhere, and Dick’s Sporting Goods does a good job of too, bats come with a certain anatomy. That anatomy, in large measure, determines what a bat costs, how a bat feels and how long a bat lasts.
Generally, and you’ll find this on the bat guides, you’ll find a composite, hybrid and metal alloy section. Composites come in both a single and two piece version. Hybrids are considered two piece bats as well, but the barrel is aluminum and the handle is composite. Metal alloy bats are single piece aluminum bats.
We’ll spare you all the details of these bats. This chart from DSG does well enough.
Every bat guide we could find has a bat size chart. We have one too.
Most agree on the rough range of each. Make no mistake about it, though bats size charts try and get you in the right realm of sizes, they are by no means a fool proof solution. Here are some of the better Bat Size Charts we found.
There are a few different ways to measure yourself, according to the bat guides we studied. Although each have their merit and process, they each get you to roughly the right place.
Remember, too, bat size charts are at best averages. You should size up or down depending on skill level or how a child fits on the growth chart. Just because your 8 year old, for example, is sized like a 10 year old, it doesn’t mean he should be swinging a 10 year old’s bat. Muscle development, experience and general skill level mean as much in finding the right bat size as height and weight on some bat chart do.
In other words, when using a bat size chart anywhere, proceed with caution and results may vary.
In terms of finding the right size bat and measuring yourself correctly there are a few options. See here for instructions.
The first step to buying the right bat, and something we point out in our beginner’s guide, is that you must know what league you are playing. Different leagues require different certifications on the bats for them to be legal for play. Mind you, these are leagues within the sport. For example, amateur baseball has no less than three different bat standards: BBCOR, USA and USSSA. (You might also argue for wood because there are wood bat leagues).
Most guides do a decent job of directing you to the right type of bat on their site once you’ve decided the type of bat you want.
What no guide ever tells you is what league you are in. This is because they don’t know. You have to find out. High school players have it easy as it’s BBCOR for baseball and ASA for fastpitch. Little League players have no such benefit and could be anywhere from a USA, USSSA to a wood bat league. Some Little Leagues also allow BBCOR, so you just need to check.
Another expected outcome from Bat Guides is the inevitable sales pitch. That is, these major vendors look to deliver useful information. They want you to appreciate their effort, recognize they are an authority in the space, and end up browsing through the options they have in stock. That seems like a fair and honest approach to moving a few bats.
There are at least a dozen more bat guides aside from the DSG one we talk about above. There are a few worth considering if you want to dive deep into the science of bat buying. Here we mention three we liked for any given reason: JustBats, Baseball Monkey and Baseball Savings. The depth and breadth of these site sections is remarkable.
There really isn’t a subject Just Bats’ Guide doesn’t cover. You can wade through every aspect of bat buying you’ve ever considered and then some. They are just a bat specific site, so that’s useful too, and their inventory is as good as it gets.
In terms of a simple and straight forward shot at a baseball bat guide, Home Run Monkey does well enough. All the information for their bat guide is found on one page and follows the same Bat Guide themes found elsewhere on the internet.
Baseball Savings’ baseball and softball bat guide is deep and wide. In fact, it might even be more replete than Just Bats’. There are literally dozens of articles on this site—like on JustBats—discussing every facet you could imagine.
In the beginning, Baseball and Softball Bat Guides are very useful. If you’ve yet to buy a performance bat online (or even in a store) spending a few minutes at the sites we link above should be well worth it.
As well, even experienced buyers do well to refresh their aim on a good bat size chart or think through the differences in barrel and bat materials. As players grow and their swings develop, changing bat type (say from a two piece composite to a single piece aluminum) might serve them well. In fact, many college players make the transition to single piece bats after a life long amateur career in the two piece composite space.
The more comfortable you become with the process, and the more bats you’ve worked your way through, the less and less you’ll need a bat guide. In fact, baseball and softball bat guides would be better titled as bat introductions. Once you’ve had your first high end stick, played on a team that uses a variety of bats, you’ll quickly become your own bat guide.
In short, the best thing we’ve learned from bat guides is that bats are different.
There is a real tendency for new buyers, and our cynical nature, to just assume all bats are created equal. The longer we review and write about bats, the more we realize that just isn’t true. Material matters. Drop weights matter. Bat construction matters. Service and returns and warranties matter. In some cases a lot, but in all cases at least some.
Before spending several hundred dollars on a performance baseball bat, every new buyer should take the time to peruse at least one good baseball or softball bat guide.Axe Handle on a Chandler Bat »