Published: January 14, 2018 | Last modified: January 14, 2018
To compliment our best USA Baseball bats article, we add this useful insight for the budget conscience buyer. After much testing, prodding and measuring we think the best cheap USA Bat on the market today is the Rawlings Machine. Our testers loved the big barrel and relatively lower swing weight for a drop 8. But, most of all, they loved the reasonable price for a bat that is not embarrassing---and believe us, we found plenty of embarrassing cheap USA bats. We think this sub $50 bat swings as well as a number of bats three times its price.
If you need a drop 10 bat that swings lighter than the Machine we suggest the 2018 Louisville Slugger 518 Omaha at, around, $99.
Best Cheap USA Baseball Bats Ratings
We rate the top 3 cheap USAbats based on price, barrel size, player feedback and performance. To be included in the runnings for best cheap bat the bat needed a sub $100 price point. Our testing for each bat included comparing it to expensive models, using the bat for live pitching among several different hitters. We found the Rawlings Machine, Easton S650 and Slugger 518 stand out among all the sub $100 bats we could find.
Best Place to Buy
The Rawlings Machine bat is a Target exclusive bat and it is the only place we could find it for sale. As such, that also makes it the best place too.
Cheap vs Expensive USA Baseball Bat
Top 3 Cheap USA Bat Options
We consider the best cheap USA Baseball bats to be worthy of any serious rec player or, even, the BP or Cold weather bat of any serious travel player. Although these bats' sweet spot and sting dampening may lack compared to bats on the top shelf of the space, we think every player will appreciate them in some at least some way. And each of their parents will appriciate them in terms of their price.
1. Rawlings Machine Drop 8
The Rawlings Machine is a drop 8 found at Target (which you can buy online and have shipped to you). We tested the machine up against bats 5 to 6 times its price and, despite some occasional hand ring on mishits, the bat received great feedback from every player that tried it. Rarely was the bat a player's favorite, but it never found itself in the bottom 50% of individual rankings.
Do note that the bat swings a bit heavy and is appropriately categorized as a drop 8. Those looking for an ultra light swing will be disspointed they don't make a Machine in their size. But, the added weight is useful to help remove some hand sting as well increase durability. And the 2 5/8 barrel is a good size compared to some of the other ridiculously undersized value bats in the USA Baseball space.
If you were looking for an inexpensive cold weather bat in the USAbat space or a legit BP bat then we recommend the Rawlings Machine which, last we checked, you can get for under $50.
Slugger 518 Omaha
Louisville Slugger makes a USA Bat in a more performance series of bat. This is a single piece aluminum bat with a drop 10 swing weight. The drop 10, you should know, is the numerical difference between the length of the bat in inches and the weight of the bat in ounces. Slugger's 516 Omaha sits right under the $100 threshold.
Performance was not any different than the Rawlings Machine. However, we note emphatically, the Omaha does swing lighter. And a lighter bat almost always means more control and, ultimately, more contact.
We recommend the 518 Omaha as a value option for the true drop 10 player in the USA Baseball bat space. The main reason it sits behind the Rawlings Machine on this is that the Machine is half the price.
Easton's S650 is another legit, albeit more expensive, 2 5/8 economy bat with a large barrel, decent swing weight and sub $100 price point. There are frills on this bat so don't expect any special consideration for your hands on mishits or any ultra-light swing options. This is a drop 9 and swings really close to the Machine Rawlings above.
Last we looked this bat was $99 across the board. We find no reason to buy this bat if you can find the Machine at Target. But if, for whatever reason, you want a value purchase on an Easton USA Baseball bat then the S650 will treat you well.
Cheap Bats To Avoid
Swings and Misses
The Rawlings VELO in a drop 10 or 11 this year, we believe, really missed the mark. Not only is the price point $100 more than it should be (these run at $199) but the bats seem small barreled and overweighted. The drop 10 should be a drop 8 and the drop 11 should be a drop 10. At $99 most should probably still pass on the Velo. But at closer to $200? Uh, no.
Don't get us wrong, we think the VELO in the BBCOR and Big barrel are fantastic bats. they have been for years. And we fully expect Rawlings to get a better product for USA in the VELO come 2019. (As well, we really like the Rawlings Quatro in the performance USABat space). But, if there were any bat we were to avoid in the 2018 $200 USABat space, it would be the VELO.
2 1/4 Barrels
2 1/4 USA Baseball bats make zero sense and you should avoid buying them. Bat companies struggled to make good bats with 2 5/8 barrels (the USABat limit) within a certain weight class. To lower the swing weight, in the drop 12 categories especially, they removed volume from the barrel by making the barrel smaller.
This creates issues as smaller players really need a bat that swings light. And, turns out, there are no drop 12 bats in the space whose barrel is larger than a 2 1/4.
Despite that drawback, we would do everything we could to avoid a 2 1/4 barrel in the USA Baseball bat space. Consider dropping down an inch or two in a 2 5/8 518 Omaha, for example, before buying a 2 1/4 USABat.