It should be simple, right? A baseball bat and some batting gloves is everything your child needs for offensive production in baseball.
However, it can be tricky to choose the best baseball bat.
This quick-start guide will provide parents and children all the necessary information needed to select the right metal bat for a certain age or a particular level of play. Having a perfectly-tailored bat can maximize the performance of the player and significantly build his confidence.
Then, after you know the criteria for the bat you are looking for (certification, weight, length, drop weight, and composition material), check out the pros and cons of the best baseball bats for 2017.
NOTE: Let’s be honest, what do professional baseball players (who use wood bats obviously) know about the latest metal bats? Normally, every post on this website is written by a professional baseball player, but we had to make an exception for this topic. Please note, this post was donated to PBI by David Morgan at ThePlanetOfBaseball.com
Two things to know…
- In the world of baseball, an “adult” is considered someone who is at least 13 years of age.
- You should also know that BBCOR certification is the current standard used when making adult (13 years and older) baseball bats. So, if you want a bat eligible for leagues that follow NFHS and NCAA rules, MAKE SURE it is BBCOR certified.
Youth baseball organizations (Little League, PONY, USSSA) also insist on this certification in their senior divisions, which can include players that are 11-14 years old.
What is BBCOR?
If you really want to know… BBCOR stands for “batted ball coefficient of resolution,” something that is calculated based on the trampoline effect of the bat. This standard was implemented to regulate the level of energy lost when the bat makes contact with the baseball. NFHS and NCAA set 0.50 as the top value that a bat can achieve.
Aside from that, BBCOR certification means that a bat needs to have
- a barrel diameter that does not exceed 2 5/8 inches,
- a length no greater than 36 inches, and
- length to weight ratio no bigger than -3.
Composite bats that were banned can now be used if they have a BBCOR certification.
You can find the list of all certified bats here.
How to Choose the Right Size?
There are several factors to consider when choosing the best baseball bat:
- Weight and drop weight
- Barrel size
1. Length of the Bat
You can use this chart of recommended bat length depending on player’s age:
Longer bats enable players to have a bigger reach, but they are also heavier, which can affect swinging technique. Obviously, you have to consider both length and weight to find the perfect bat for your player.
2. Weight of the Bat
There is a belief that bigger players need to use a heavier bat to achieve maximum power, while smaller players should use a lighter bat to maximize the speed. That may be the starting place of your search for the best youth baseball bat, but it’s not necessarily the rule.
Heavier bats can be tricky to control, and the player can lose his motivation if hitting too many foul balls.
However, your child won’t get maximum performance from a bat that is too light, as it will decrease potential acceleration and power.
To really be sure, you can use this bat sensor see which bat weight results in the highest exit velocity (while still keeping good hitting mechanics).
The trick is to find the ideal drop weight of your player’s bat.
What does drop weight of a baseball bat mean?
The drop weight is the difference between the length (measured in inches) and the weight (measured in ounces) of the bat.
Which drop weight should my child use?
The drop weight changes as the player becomes better / stronger / older.
- Youth baseball bats – If you are a new player that makes his first baseball steps, you should start with a bat that has a -10 or -12 drop weight. These are drop weights recommended for children starting to play baseball.
- High School – BBCOR regulations restrict high school and college baseball players to using bats with the drop weight no greater than -3.
As you can see, it might be easy to find the best batting gloves, but choosing an appropriate bat is a time-consuming process.
The player will have to try several (if not a lot of) bats until he finds the most suitable weight.
The weight test
There is a good exercise for determining if the bat is too heavy for the batter. Have your player hold the bat out in front of him with one hand for 15-20 seconds.
The bat should be held with one hand and just above the handle. If he can make it for 20 seconds without his bat dropping or the arm shaking, there is a good chance you’ve found the best baseball bat for that player. On the other hand, if the bat drops or the arm shakes, you should try a lighter bat.
3. Barrel Size
Players under the age of 12 are advised to use a 2 1/4” barrel. That is the standard size for Youth and Little League baseball. Regulations restrict high school and college batters to use a maximum barrel diameter of 2 5/8”.
Having in mind both barrel size and drop weight, the experts from Source for Sports came up with this chart:
Please note that this is a chart with the recommended sizes. They can differ from player to player, but they all have to comply with the regulations.
Types of Bats to Choose From
There are four basic types of metal bats based on the material used in their crafting:
· Alloy bats
· Composite bats
· Half and half bats
· Hybrid bats
You can also choose from one piece bats and two piece bats. The latter ones provide a little more flex in the handle, which can help the speed, while one piece bat lovers claim that they have a better trampoline effect.
Composite bats (generally the most expensive) are made of a composite of fiberglass-like material. Their main feature is that they get better with use. The break in period is crucial for them, so it is recommended to hit 200 to 300 real baseball all around the barrel to get the best performance from a composite bat. This type had been banned a long time ago, but can now be used as long as the bat has a BBCOR certification.
Alloy bats (generally the least expensive… there are always exceptions) are completely made from metal, except for the end cap. In most cases, this metal is aluminum. The reason for that is that aluminum is light and durable, making this the best youth baseball bat available. Aluminum bats allow younger players to learn the technique of a proper swing. They also provide greater speed, compensating for the lack of accuracy and strength in some younger players.
Half and half bats offer a composite handle, while the barrel is made of aluminum, alloy or hybrid material.
Hybrid bats are comprised of several mixed materials, such as alloy or carbon. The main idea of these bats is to combine strengths of aluminum and composite bats while eliminating their drawbacks.
How Much Does Price Matter for a Metal Youth Baseball Bat?
Whether you are buying batting gloves, baseball sunglasses, catcher gear or any other product that comes to mind, the price is something you have to take into consideration. Fortunately, for baseball bats, it’s safe to say that price isn’t the deciding factor.
It’s true, you tend to get what you paid for, and more expensive alloys should provide better performance.
However, the vital thing to consider is your player. For example, aluminum bats are perfect for younger players that are only starting their baseball career, even though they are cheaper than composite bats.
My name is David, I am an editor/co-founder of www.theplanetofbaseball.com. Being a software engineer by day and a baseball blogger by night, I also participated in the training activities of a youth baseball team at my hometown. I have passion for baseball, it pertains to my life from childhood until now and I love to share what is related to that passion with others. I believe in the support of other baseball bloggers like me to spread the passion.