We've spent at least 2,000 hours of our lives searching for, writing about or testing out the bats that are best for us. In that process, we've learned a few tricks along the way. Many of which we share here when it comes to the question: how to choose the best bat.
In a major section on this site (best bats) we point out our favorite bats by category. We break these down by best baseball bats, best slow pitch softball bats, best fastpitch bats and oh so much more.
The Problems With Finding The Right Bat: Brick & Mortar vs Online vs Bat Rep
It only takes a few seconds of google searching or sports aisle store walking to realize your options to choose the best bat for baseball and softball might as well be endless. Both online and in store have their serious problems. (You might like our 5 best place to buy bats).
Brick & Mortar Retailers
Big time, national chain B&M retailers are, let's face it, rarely helpful. What they make up for in immediate availability they lack in knowledge and selection. If you're lucky they have a few of the top end bats (likely not in your perfect size) and, at a minimum, have read the marketing brochures left behind by the manufacturers sales rep. More than likely, though, they only have a name brand or two in their isles and don't have a sales rep that knows much of anything.
Some B&M stores are gold mines. If you live in the New Jersey, for example, then a place like closeoutbats is akin to Disney Land. But most locations aren't lucky enough to have a place like that and, instead, are forced to walk into a national retail chain that has more marketing then sense.
Online Retailers have their own set of problems. What they lack in the tactile feel required for a several hundred dollar purchase they make up in size availability. And though their knowledge base is measurably improved compared to the brick and mortar employee it is often still short of specific enough information as to be helpful. Their incentive to move product and deliver margin to the bottom line supersedes their desire to find you the exact right bat. In a perfect world these two things work together like an invisible hand, but that isn't always the case. Justbats.com is the leader in the online space and it really isn't close.
More and more bat reps are using facebook groups to pawn their gear. Most of these sales reps get a stock of inventory they can sample or sale to boost up their income and help out their accounts. These bats come at a discount, usually, but are often under the table deals. Our general experience with reps is that most of them are confident they know what they are talking about. But, they are also more concerned with their available inventory, the products they rep and their margins then they are with actually helping someone out. But, if you can find a rep they are usually useful people to know especially if you already know what you want.
5 Tricks to Score The Right Bat
Many of these tricks deserve individual posts and we provide those in the links below. But, simply, here is a straight forward process of finding how to find the right stick at the right price for you.
- Understand that maximum batted ball speed is your goal. The right type of bat is always the maximum barrel size that can be swung at maximum speed. (See this swing weight article for a good reference)
- Your maximum barrel size is determined by the league in which you play. So, make sure the bat you choose is legal. Although not perfectly akin to sweet spot size, consider the barrel size too. This article shows barrel sizes.
- Bat construction preference will help you choose the right bat. Do you like two piece composite, hybrid, single piece composite or single piece aluminum? If you don't know then start reading here.
- Check out our recommended best bat listst: Baseball, BBCOR, Fastpitch.
- Find a place to buy your bat. More often then not places like Amazon' bat section and eBay deliver the largest selection and best prices. Brick and mortar stores, if they have your sizing, are a reasonable choice too.