We hit extensively with every 2018 USA baseball bat on the market. In reality, the best bat for any given player will be, just that, individual. There are enough 2018 USABats to fit almost any need. That said, as a general recommendation we think Easton's Beast X Hybrid in a drop 10 is the best USABat in 2018. We like the bat's price point, size offerings and hot out of the wrapper performance. It is also helpful the bat is in the top of the rankings for largest barrel sizes and ball exit speeds.
Note, too, this list is far from definitive. A lot of companies are still in place to release a USABat by the spring of 2018. In other words, check back often. We will update it as we get more information. But, with the holidays right around the corner we thought this an appropriate time to put together at least something for those desperate to find a good answer in this newly minted USABat space.
USABat bats are the new standard by which many youth baseball organizations abide starting 1/1/2018. These bats use a performance standard different than USSSA or 1.15 BPF bats. Although more like BBCOR bats which are used in the high school and collegiate space, these USA baseball bats use a bigger drop (or lighter swing weight) to allow younger players success. You can read more about the reasons behind the change in our USABats article.
USABat Exit Speed Performance Testing
Best 2018 USABats Rankings
Bat / Rating
Total of 4.9/5 Stars
We think Easton hit a home run despite the fact this is the first year for the USABat standard. We like the price, feel and pop.
Total of 4.8/5 Stars
Although expensive, we are big fans of the 2018 Rawlings Quatro. It struggled to match the aluminum bats in our test, but we think it might be a break-in issue. Ultra smooth feel and a huge barrel.
Total of 4.8/5 Stars
Easton's Ghost X has a massive barrel and really good feel, even on mishits. Many of our hitters preferred this bat's feel over any other on the list. It also comes in a drop 5 which is a huge plus.
Total of 4.8/5 Stars
A two piece hybrid bat with an asymmetric handle and knob makes for the most unique swing of the bunch. Good performance and a drop 5 to boot? A great, off the beaten path choice.
Total of 4.8/5 Stars
The BIGGEST barrel in the 2018 class of USABats, the Mizuno Ghost is a great feeling two piece composite from a very new player in the space. Worth your consideration if you want a two piece hybrd.
Total of 4.8/5 Stars
We love the 618 Solo in every size they make it. It serves as one of our favorite USABats for the same reason we like its BBCOR version too. The bat is a smooth swinging, hot out of the wrapper, very smart buy.
2018 Easton Beast X Hybrid
Deciding the best USABat for 2018 is the most difficult ranking process we have yet to endeavor. With virtually zero player feedback on previous models or any previous year standards to measure it against, we feel a bit like we are shooting in the dark.
However, as we put each USA baseball bat to use among a number of different players over the course of several weeks, we kept going back to the Easton Beast X Hybrid. Younger players loved the feel of the two piece bat. This bat, we should note, also felt like the Rawlings Quatro, Easton Ghost X and Mizuno Ghost, but each of those bats came at a considerable price increase.
We also found the barrel size on the Beast X Hybrid remarkably large for an aluminum barrel. Most aluminum bats have barrel sizes noticeably smaller than their composite peers. The Beast X, however, ranks right among the largest barrels in the entire USA baseball bat class.
The definitive factor for ranking the Beast X Hybrid at the top of our list was the results of our Rapsodo exit speed testing. The Beast X Hybrid hit the ball considerably faster during game conditions when compared to other bats in the class.
Are We Right?
For many players? Simply, no. Bat performance standards in baseball bats have narrowed the performance gap considerably, and as such, the feel of a bat becomes much more a conversation point than the objective performance.
That said, the early feedback on the Beast X has been remarkable across the board in both our experience and others' too.
USABat Break In
One concern we raised in our hottest bats testing is the lack of performance within the USA composite bats. We wondered out loud---and will here too---whether USABats with composite barrels require more break-in when compared to BBCOR and USSSA composite barrels. We have no evidence to support such a claim other than the fact that the aluminum barrels tended to outperform the composite ones in the USABat space. We are simply searching for answers.
Whether that phenomenon is a limitation of composite and the USABat standard, or something more simple like requiring a stronger work in, is yet to be seen. (We did work the USABat composites the requisite 250+ times before testing). As of this writing, we are confident the Beast X Hybrid hits the ball harder, although not by much, than any composite USABat barrel on the market.
How We Decide The Best USABat
Determining recommendations on bats forces our thinking into both a quantitative and qualitative section. The qualitative section is generally more subjective, including principles like feel on mishits, where the balance falls on the bat and the general confidence the bat, its brand and design inspire at the plate.
Quantitative data requires a more objective approach. It includes characteristics that we can measure, such as the actual swing weight, the bat's actual weight versus its stated weight, the ball exit speed during game conditions and the max barrel length of the bat.
We use both the quantitative and qualitative approach in our rubric for ranking the best USABats. It is similar to how we determine every one of our best bats.
As of this writing, there are several USABats that intend to release before the spring 2018 season, but are not yet available for testing. They include bats from Dirty South, Rude American and even some high end CF Zen bats from DeMarini. Louisville Slugger may also have a few releases by the start of the season.
Those will be added to this list and rankings as they become available.
2018 Rawlings Quatro
In the first year of the USABat standard you cannot expect more from a two piece composite bat. The Rawlings Quatro is a super smooth smash with a big barrel and good balance. We have no reason to think anyone with the bat will be disappointed.
The only thing we found better in the Beast X was the exit speed. And in terms of statistical significance, that was a marginal win for the Beast X. The Quatro has a lighter swing weight and a bigger barrel. It also has a higher price point.
Among the the two piece composite USABats for the 2018 year, we would have the hardest time passing up the Rawlings Quatro---assuming, of course, we were looking for a drop 10.
2018 Easton Ghost X
We have only great things to say about the Ghost X in the USABat. We suspect many will think it is the best USABat for 2018, and frankly, they may be right.
The Ghost X met every expectation including a monster barrel, great performance all the way through the end cap and a feel that left every one of our little league hitters asking to hit with it again.
Aside from the Mizuno Ghost, the Easton Ghost X has the largest barrel in the USABat space for 2018---and considering the bat's balance, such a barrel size is a remarkable feat.
As well, and of serious note, Easton has the largest selection of sizes, drops and lengths in the Ghost X (drop 10, drop 8, drop 5) when compared to any other model in the space. For that reason alone we expect it to be the best selling 2018 USA baseball bat.
2018 Axe Elite
Our love for Axe bats runs deep---some might argue a little too deep. Regardless of our soft spot, we like the two piece Elite in the USABat a lot. It comes in a drop 5 and serves the big hitting older kid that does not want a BBCOR bat in their hands this year. In other words, imagine the ability to take a drop 5 to the plate in those leagues that just last year required BBCOR.
We like the idea of a hybrid bat in the USABat space. The concern of barrel performance and work in disappear with a hot out of the wrapper aluminum. And the two piece design gives a lot of kids enough confidence to swing hard every time. If you want a USABat drop 5 that uses hot out of the wrapper aluminum, then your only options are the Elite and the Beast X. Either are legit choices.
2018 Mizuno Ghost
The Ghost from Mizuno drives a real unique story. This is far and away, Mizuno's most serious push into the Little League space, and the most unique bat of 2018. Unlike Easton, Rawlings or Wilson (DeMarini/Slugger) who have a proven two piece composite to build on, Mizuno offers this ring-tech bat in the USABat space, and to say the least, it is a major splash in a pretty crowded pool.
To stand out, Mizuno has the BIGGEST barrel in the space. It even dwarfs the Easton Ghost X which puts the other bats in the space to shame. The Ghost uses a ring technology in the bat to expand its sweet spot. It sounds different than any other bat on the market.
If you are up for a different stroke in a competitive field, we would recommend the Ghost from Mizuno. Its barrel size is unrivaled. And our exit speed tests put the Ghost right there with all the other two piece composite bats.
2018 Louisville Slugger 618 Solo
We would not be surprised if in five years from now, you were to tell us that aluminum bats ruled the day with the new USA baseball bat standard. Much like BBCOR bats are ruled by aluminum barrels at the highest level of the sport, metal bats in the USABat standard (a restrictive standard for sure) might make more sense in terms of performance in the long run. We could be wrong, but would not be surprised if aluminum is king.
And such a winning bat in five years from now might look a heck of a lot like the 2018 Louisville Slugger 618 Solo. A single piece aluminum with honest feedback, a light swing and a focus on bat speed might be just the ticket for the happiest players in the little league bat space. Add another hundred bucks or so in your pocket, and both player and parent win.
We answer most of these questions in our USABats article. Check there for the full story.
What are the new USABat Rules?
Players in leagues that require the new USABat standard will need to use bats with the USABat stamp. The stamp indicates the bat has passed its performance restrictions. Those restrictions include a certain trampoline effect akin to BBCOR and less than USSSA 1.15 standards. It improves the size of the barrel to a 2 5/8 from the previous 2 1/4.
Who is required to swing the new USABats?
Many leagues have agreed to use the new USABat standard. They include Little League International and many of its affiliates. Including, but not limited to, Cal Ripken, Dixie Youth, Pony and at least a few more. Check with your local league to see if they are adopting the new standard.
Why Make New USABat Rules?
This continues to be a question in many people's minds---and one we have yet to really find a great answer for.
Ultimately, USA Baseball felt the Little League game was wrought with too much offense, insomuch the game was morphing into something different than what they had envisioned. A restriction on bats would limit offense, force the game to become more defensive, and give players a chance to focus on skills outside of hitting home runs. We find this mostly hard to believe, but there it is nonetheless.
Safety is another issue many have brought up, but USA baseball denies this as a reason for the change. And, yes, we are stretching for an answer here.
When are the New USABat rules in effect?
USABats first went on sale in September of 2017. The leagues adopting the new bats rules require them for play starting January 1st, 2018.