Ever on our quest to determine the very best bat, we run a user generated poll which pits one 2016 bat versus another and ask the user to click on their choice. Results are tallied and lists are made. We recently concluded a “Choose the Best 2016 Bat” competition and tallied over 10,000 votes. This is, as far as we are aware, the largest user generated poll of bat opinion on the market. Added to our Pre-Season Awards, this Best 2016 Bat article should round out our research.
|Category Winner||Model (Review)||Price|
|3||Surprise Finish||Easton TORQ||Amazon|
|8||Perfect Rank||DeMarini Voodoo Raw||Amazon|
|9||Too Low||Slugger 716 Select||Amazon|
|13||Really Too Low||Rawlngs VELO||Amazon|
|25||Way Too Low||Adidas RBZ X3||Amazon|
Criteria for Inclusion
What we didn’t make clear to the voter, and this was intentional, is the exact type of bat they were to consider. We expected readers to assume it was their best bat for their given circumstance. Some of the bats, for example, were only BBCOR bats and not available to the senior league and big barrel worlds. Others have different compositions and constructions at different levels of play.
As such, we added every performance bat in 2016 that we reviewed (which includes all 2016 performance bats). From bats few have ever heard of, like the Axe Hyperwhip, to those that are seen everywhere like the MAKO and CF8, all performance based bats were listed.
How The Scoring Works
We should note this head to head is unique in the way it scores. It uses, similar to the way chess players are ranked, an ELO type system. This awards points based on not just winning and losing, but who you beat and who you lost to. A win against a high ranked bat adds more points than a win against a low ranked bat. The opposite is also true. The idea is to keep the scoring close and reward bats not based off popularity, but off player adoption. We think it does a decent job at this.
However, like most ranking systems, it doesn’t come without its problems. Most noticeably is how influential a single voter, who prefers a very low ranked bat over other topped ranked bats, can be in the rankings. It only takes a handful of “upsets” to push a top ranked bat off the charts. You’ll notice in the rankings, for example, how a few bats have more losses than wins, but are still in the top of the rankings. Other bats who win more than 50% of the time are often found below bats that lose more than 50% of the time. We hope the idea gives less popular bats a chance to move up in the rankings, but admit it may unfairly reward the lone wolf in the voting.
As much as DeMarini and Wilson may not be willing to admit, the bats are very, very similar. They both serve the same market in the sense of a light swinging two piece composite bat with an oversized barrel. They are also the flagship bats of the two major players in the space. They both come from companies with massive R&D and marketing budgets. In large measure, they perform very similar along the length of the barrel and come in every drop and size imaginable.
We don’t put too much stock into the fact the MAKO ended on top of the CF8. The top two places jockeyed at 1 and 2 for the majority of the 10,800+ votes. As our last “Best 2016 Bat” article of the season, we feel confident in proclaiming these two bats are the best of the 2016 season. Full Stop.
What You can Learn
As we say above, our attempt at defining the very best bat in the industry is and endless one. We’ve tried to slice and dice the data a number of ways. This user generated data is always instructive to confirm, after 10,000+ votes, that our thinking is in line with the field. We’ve confirmed the best bats in your list are the best bats in our list. We’ve also confirmed that our least liked bats are your least liked bats too.
Does this answer the age old question as to what is the best bat for your budget and level of play? Unfortunately not. But it doesn’t mean we aren’t getting closer to figuring it out.
Rated Higher than We Expected
The MAKO TORQ, and its spinning handle, hasn’t been the most well received technology addition in recent memory. Some have never quite come around to the idea of a spinning bottom hand. But, as we’ve mentioned before, the barrel is exactly the same as the top place finishing MAKO. Hence, it is not a breach in logic to assume the MAKO TORQ could be one of the very best bats in the industry for 2016.
That doesn’t mean we thought the TORQ would end up 3rd in the final voting, beating out bats like the very popular 916 Prime and Combat MAXUM. This surprised us, but the people have spoken.
Rated Lower than We Expected
Three bats did not rank out as highly as we thought they should have. And as such, we thought they deserved a bit of a shout out in this write-up. For starters, Louisville Slugger’s 716 Select is one of our favorite bats of the year (and probably most favorite in they hybrid space). Its ranking of 9th (which is still respectable) still felt at least a good 2 to 4 spots too low.
The Rawlings Velo is also too low at 13—or at least that’s what we think. The VELO is a very well received bat, especially at the big barrel sizes. It’s a remarkably light swinging bat with great bat speed. As well, the bat’s BBCOR version is a great performer and used at all levels of the sport. In high school games we observed this year, the VELO was an absolute favorite.
Far, far too low was Adidas RBZ X3. This bat, probalby suffering as a new name in a very overstuffed market, was one of our preferred two piece composite bats with a light swing and oversized barrel. It would compete, as far as we see it, with the MAKO and CF8 which ended up winning the competition. But at 25 out of the 30 we measured? No way.