After 1,000 recorded swings we have hit, seen players hit and gathered objective feedback on every big barrel bat made for 2018. From that data, and or conversations with major vendors and manufacturers, we put together this best big barrel bats of 2018. In short, we think the CF Zen for 2018 is the best big barrel bat.
Although yet to be released in a drop 5 for 2018, our hitters love the feel and performance of the drop 10 2018 Zen. Even with the dampening it took from getting banned in 2017, the 2018 Zen swings like it should and is the preferred bat, regardless of price, for elite drop 10 players in the USSSA big barrel space.
Best 2018 Big Barrel Bats
|Overall/Drop 10||DeMarini||CF Zen||5/5||$$$$|
|Drop 8||Marucci||CAT 7||5/5||$$$|
|Drop 5||Easton||Ghost X||5/5||$$$$|
|Drop 12||Rawlings||VELO Hybrid||5/5||$$$|
Best 2018 Big Barrel Bat
Our process included barrel size measurements, exit speed tests and swing weight measurements. That objective data, combined with a dozen hitters using the bats and recording their direct feedback plays roles in determining the best big barrel bats. We also observed what players tended to use at major tournaments and spent considerable time looking for objective online reviews. Much of more detailed findings can be found on our USSSA Big Barrel bat reviews pages under our individual reviews for the following bats. Below is a highlight of our 2018 best big barrel bats.
1. DeMarini CF Zen Drop 10
The 2018 CF Zen is really a perfect bat. DeMarini has dialed in the feel and barrel performance better than anyone in the USSSA space. We have dozens of players try our every bat in the market (even the small ones) and the Zen always rises to the top, or right near the top, of everyone’s list. This 2018 version is not much different than the 2017 Retooled version. But, even after the 2017 version was retooled we still loved it. See our full 2018 CF Zen review.
2. Easton Ghost X Drop 5
There are a number of other great options in the big barrel space. Especially in the drop 5, we love the Easton Ghost X for many of the same reasons we love the CF Zen in the drop 10. The Ghost X Drop 5 has remarkable pop and a good sized barrel. Expect an endloaded feel. Oddly, the drop 5 Ghost X has a smaller barrel profile than the drop 8 or drop 10 Ghost X, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t absolutely rake. See our 2018 Easton Ghost X review.
3. Marucci CAT 7 Drop 8
Both the Easton Ghost X and CF Zen come in very nice drop 8 options. But, our favorite drop 8 big barrel for 2018 is Marucci’s CAT 7. This swings, feels and sounds a lot different then the two piece composite bats that grace this list. But, no doubt, it is delivers absolute screamers. We love the balance and slightly tapered grip as well as the durability and brilliant feel. The stiff feel from the single piece can occassioanly ring the hands but Marucci’s AV2 knob is unique feature that makes it reasonable for even young hitters. This is a top shelf cold weather bat built for performance players at a fraction of the price. See our Marucci CAT 7 review.
4. Rawlings VELO Drop 12
The easiest choice on this list is the 2018 Rawlings VELO for the best drop 12 bat. Most bat companies do not take the drop 12 space seriously. They leave their second teir bats to top out on the space. Not Rawlings. They actually upgrade their traditional single piece Rawlings VELO into a two piece composite with a huge barrel and a real great feel. If you are looking for the best 2018 drop 12 bat, and money is not an option, then the two piece Rawlings VELO is a fantastic option. See our Rawlings VELO review.
5. Easton S450
There are not very many cheap 2018 big barrel baseball bats worth mentioning. Under $75 are about the same. That is, a single piece of aluminum shaved down to offer a light swing weight. These rarely have any tech that helps dampen sting. But, if your player is new to the sport and you just looking to get through a couple games before diving into the deep end we really like the Easton S450. You can find this bat everywhere for a pretty cheap price and as a drop 11 it should be useuful to the beginners.
6. Louisville Slugger 518 Omaha Drop 10
If you have a budget of $100 and are trying to be the most wise we suggest the 2018 Omaha 518 as the best value 2018 Big Barrel Bat. There is not a ton of tech on this bat as, it is, a good old fashioned single piece of aluminum. However, the barrel performs really well and is considered one of Slugger’s top end bats. We like the grip, tapered knob and number of size offerings (drop 10, 8 and 5). It’s a very legit choice for under $100. See our Slugger 518 review.
2018 vs 2017 Big Barrel Options
As always, looking for many of the above bats in a 2017 model year option can usually save you a few bucks. With the exception of the drop 12 VELO, the 2017 version of each of the bats we list above are basically identical. And, if you can find them, likely worth it at a discount from this year’s model. Finding used or last year’s model is a bit of an art form and we discuss some tricks to buying bats here.
One notable exception, in terms of saving money from last year’s model, is the 2017 Drop 5 DeMarini CF Zen. This bat is straight ridiculous. Very hard to find at any level of a discount. It is our favorite drop 5 bat maybe ever.
Best 2017 Big Barrel Bats
Best 2017 Big Barrel Bats
(The below section entails our write up for 2017 bats. If you are looking for our thoughts, after hours of testing, on the 2017 line of big barrel bats then see below).
1. DeMarini CF Zen Drop 10
There are a ton of great drop 5 bats on the market. Easton’s MAKO XL Beast, Marucci’s CAT 7 or the Voodoo Insane are great drop 5 options. But the bomb making ability of the CF Zen is unmatched.
The 2017 model over the 2016 model, added some barrel length with a new internal design. The technology in the knob to help dampen sting is still there. Expect a focused barrel and a super smooth feel. Great for kids who can handle a drop 5, but who don’t think an endload is the feel for them. See our 2017 CF Zen review.
2. Marucci CAT 7 Drop 8
We originally had DeMarini’s CF Zen in the drop 8 as the winner of this section. However, the bat was deemed illegal by USSSA and several other leagues. As such, it probably does not deserve a strong recommendation.
The drop 8 CAT 7, however, does. The at is dynamite for all the same reasons the drop 5 bat is awesome. Expect a smooth swing and a beautiful ping. The bat sings when it is hit well and it really benefits the player who has good bat speed. The barrel is a good size and the balance is managable but by not means light. See our 2017 Marucci CAT 7 review.
3. DeMarini Voodoo Drop 9
DeMarini’s Voodoo 2 5/8 big barrel bat is our favorite drop 9 of the bunch, in part because the balanced two piece hybrid is a great smooth swing with that hot out of the wrapper aluminum from DeMarini we have grown to love. Collegiate teams that swing DeMarini almost always tend toward the Voodoo over the CF Series.
The other part of the reason we think it is the best drop 9 big barrel today is because it is just about the only one. Most other brands offer a drop 10 or a drop 8. A two piece hybrid in a drop 10 or drop 8, though, is difficult to find, too. Hence the reason the DeMarini Voodoo dominates the space. See our 2017 DeMarini Voodoo review.
4. Easton Beast Drop 10 2 5/8 or 2 3/4
No bat space in the baseball bat market is more competitive, save BBCOR, than the drop 10 big barrel space. There are literally a half dozen or more great choices in this exact space. We chose the Easton MAKO Beast as our best big barrel drop 10 for its barrel size, balance weight and great performance. Every single player who used the bat sang it’s praises.
The Easton Beast won our best overall 2017 baseball bat award. Not a small feat. In part that award rests on fulfilling the purpose of the drop 10, which the Beast does so very well. We are confident there is not a kid in the drop 10 big barrel space that will dislike the 2017 Easton MAKO Beast. The only thing we don’t like about the Beast is the price—but welcome to youth baseball. See our 2018 Easton Mako Beast review.
5. Rawlings VELO Drop 12
Like the drop 9 section, there are not a ton of bats competing in the drop 12 space. Most drop 12 bats are made for the Junior Big Barrel divisions which come in shorter sizes between 26, and possibly 29 inches. We dedicate an entire page to those best junior barrel baseball bats.
In the Big Barrel, a.k.a. Senior Barrel, realm, there are only a few that really compete with bats longer than 28 inches. One favorite of ours is the 2017 Rawlings Composite VELO. This bat is unlike any other in the VELO line, as instead of a single piece hybrid, it is a two piece composite bat. It comes in a 2 3/4 only, but has a super light swing weight. Reviews of last year’s model were not stelllar, due to some durability issues on some early releases. But the 2017 model claims to have fixed that, and our players have had great success with the drop 12 VELO. See our 2017 Rawlings VELO review.
Best Used Big Barrel Bats
(Below are some bats you can rarely find new anymore. But, in terms of eBay type purchases they may serve you well if you can find a reputable seller and a good deal.)
1. Marucci Hex Composite
Anyone who reads this blog knows we are in love with the drop 10 2015 Marucci Hex Composite. For us it was love at first site. The barrel is gigantic, swing weight light and sweet spot large to say nothing of the design which we think looks fantastic. Those in the market for a top shelf big barrel bat in only a drop 10 will not regret this decision. It’s clearly a top shelf choice for 2015. (Check pricing here).
2. DeMarini CF7
The Drop 5 CF7 from DeMarini may be our favorite bat of the year in any category. My three sons prefer this bat over any of the arsenal we have and the ropes drilled from this bat are remarkable. It does not come in a 2 3/4 version (only 2 5/8) but we stand by our earlier claim: if you can swing it, you should swing it. It’s also not inexpensive but if any bat has claim on the top of a list of best senior league or big barrel bats we don’t know how this wouldn’t be anything but first. (These are still hard to find, but check pricing here).
3. Combat MAXUM
Combat’s 2 5/8 drop 12 Portent G3 puts a stamp on the phrase “big barrel bat”. This stick should make any list of top shelf big barrel youth bats for 2015. The barrel is smooth and Combat’s seamless construction makes for a real fun hit. The green version is a boat oar at the plate with an ultra light swing weight and lizard skin grip. Those who prefer one piece bats and Combat aficionados will be perfectly pleased in this green monster. (Check pricing here).
4. Easton MAKO
We admit this choice is predicable, but how do we leave off what is probably the most popular bat off the best bat list? Easton’s 2015 big barrel MAKO is as good a bat you may ever swing and, like the BBCOR version, those who swing it scoff at the idea they should ever try something different. Huge long barrel, low swing weight per length and a couple different options: a drop 10 2 3/4 and drop 9 2 5/8. The marquee bat from the biggest metal and composite bat company is predictably good great and is easily a top 5 big barrel bat for 2015. (Check pricing here).
5. Easton XL1
At the risk of being an Easton Homer, we follow up the MAKO with the 2015 Easton XL1. This bat is the only drop 8 big barrel to make the list (although the DeMarini CF7 and Combat G3 both come in a drop 8). But the big barrel 2015 XL1 drop 8 is the perfect bat for a heavy hitter who isn’t quite ready for a drop 5 yet. The XL1 is a monster bat whose genealogy contains the famed Easton Omen and little league series lore. The bat is highly, highly recommended. (Check pricing here).
6. Slugger 915
Probably should have made this list: Slugger 915 Prime drop 5, DeMarini Overlord FT drop 9. Why they didn’t make the list is a mystery, but its a top 5 list and we had to make it shorter. These bats rock in the the big barrel market.
Common Big Barrel Bat Questions
What is the difference between a Senior League bat and a Big Barrel Bat?
There is significant confusion in the industry surrounding the terms big barrel and senior league. Each vendor often uses them interchangeably. Technically, a 2 5/8 bat that is NOT a drop 3 is considered a Senior Barrel bat. Big Barrel bats are 2 3/4 sized bats. But, don’t expect the vast majority of vendors and manufacturers to make the distinction.
What is a Junior Big Barrel Bat?
Junior Big Barrel bats are 2 3/4 inch baseball bats meant for smaller players. They often come in a max size of 26 or 27 inches and have considerable drop weights. These bats are usually not rated for pitch speeds over 45 miles per hour.
What is the best Big Barrel Bat for a 10 year old?
We cover the 10 year old question exclusivley in a best bat for 10 year old article.
Can you use a Big Barrel Bat in Little League?
If you are talking the official Little League then the answer is no. They use USA Bats now and you can read all about that stuff here.
Are all bats the same?
It is probably safe to say that a top shelf bat from any number of companies performs at peak powers. If it says Slugger, Easton, DeMarini, Rawlings, Axe, Anderson, Marucci or Combat (and maybe one or two others) than you can bet the bat is legit.
Are better bats always more expensive?
Bats that have higher price points tend to have larger barrels, more specific swing weights and technological innovations that dampen hand sting.
What has BPF 1.15 standars done for the market?
BPF 1.15 standard implementation has really forced bat companies to the drawing board on innovation. This is ultimately good for all of us.
Are Swing Weight and Bat Load the Same?
To the contrary of what many vendors often erroneously claim, a bat with an end load does not also have a high swing weight or MOI (mass moment of inertia). Instead where the load is found in a bat is only one of many factors which determine swing weight—the most important of which is arguably the total length of a bat. Just because a bat has a handle or end load does not also mean it has a low or high swing weight. You can prefer an end loaded bat but get a low swing weight by simply getting a shorter size. See our swing weight charts.