Do you want to know how to buy and choose a baseball bat? I know this can be a stressful experience, especially considering hundreds will likely be spent.
I wrote this guide to save you some time and to help you pick the best bat for yourself or your child. You’ll see exactly what’s important and what’s not. In the end, I’m confident you’ll be ready to make your purchase.
The Reason I Missed Out On Allstar’s
Growing up I was one of the better baseball players in my town. I was fortunate enough to get an invitation to try out for a traveling Allstar team and I was really pumped. What really made this special was it was for the next age group up. I was the only younger kid trying out.
I got to the field and I was feeling really good. I recognized a lot of the players there and thought I had a good chance of making the team. I wanted to be known as the kid who not only played up a league, but played with the best older kids too.
Every one had there chance to field some balls and take some swings. I did really good in the field but something happened when it was my turn to hit – all the bats were too heavy.
I didn’t have my own bat; I always used the team bat. These were bigger kids, though, and the thought never crossed my mind their equipment would be heavier.
I knew I was in trouble. I got to the plate and could barely swing and I honestly don’t think I hit a single ball fair.
I could tell by the look on the coaches face I wasn’t going to make the team. I felt let down but I didn’t give up. I asked for a bat for my birthday (I asked for a batting tee too, which really helped) so I could be comfortable no matter where I was playing. I practiced everyday.
The next year I was ready for tryouts and killed it. I made the team and was one of the best players. I’m not sure this would have happened if I didn’t have my own bat. As you get older you need your own equipment so you can practice whenever you want and be comfortable.
So now that you know why you need a bat, let’s take a look at what to look for now.
Different Rules For Different Leagues
Before you look buy a bat you need to be aware of the rules and regulations of the league you or your child are playing in. What’s acceptable in one may not be in another.
Here are some general guidelines for popular leagues:
- Little League: This age group is between 9 and 12 and the field they play on is 60 feet between bases and 46 feet to the pitchers mound. These players aren’t allowed to use a bat that’s more than 33 inches in length and the diameter of the barrel can’t exceed 2 and 1/4 inches. Additionally, the bat performance factor (BAF) can’t be more than 1.15 (Here’s a list of my favorite youth bats that meet all these standards).
- Intermediate And Junior Leagues: Intermediates and juniors play on different sized fields but the specifications for their bats are the same. This age group is typically between 12 and 14 and aren’t allowed to use a product more than 34 inches in length; the barrel can’t exceed 2 and 5/8 inches either. All bats must meet BBCOR performance standards and have a certification mark on the barrel.
- Senior Leagues: This age group is between the ages of 13 to 16. The following rules apply to them: Can’t use a bat more than 36 inches, barrel can’t exceed 2 5/8 inches, and length can’t exceed weight numerically by more than 3 (these are known as -3 bats). All products must meet BBCOR specifications and have a stamp of approval on the barrel. All composite and alloy bats must have a marker detailing the material make up too.
High School And College: All the rules of senior league apply here (you can check out my favorite bats for this age group here)
- Specialty And Wood Bat Leagues: If you play in one of these leagues make sure to call the person in charge to get exact requirements.
No too complicated right? Let’s look at sizing now.
How To Pick The Perfect Weight And Length
This is a really important part of the process. If you go too big (like I did in Allstar tryouts) you’ll have a hard time swinging the bat and you’ll be late on every pitch. Go too small and you won’t hit the ball as hard as you can.
Here’s an excellent chart from BaseballMonkey.com that breaks it down for you:
Next, you’ll want to look at bat materials.
Composite, Alloy, Hybrid Or Wood? One Is Better Than The Rest
Those are your 4 choices. Each has their strengths and weaknesses – here’s the main differences:
- Composite: These bats are considered the best and are the most expensive (will cost between $200 to $500). They have the most “pop” and will give you the most solid hits – they have the largest sweet spots too. Also, composite materials tend to minimize painful stings and vibrations to your hands. The only downside is it needs to be broken in before using in game; it takes about 150 to 200 hits with a real baseball to do so.
- Alloy: Alloy is another good option and tends to be less expensive than composite (usually costs between $50 to $300). Despite costing less, this material tends to last longer than composite and is game ready right away. The only downside is this bat tends to have a smaller sweet spot and doesn’t do a good job reducing painful vibrations
- Hybrid: Hybrid makes use of both composite and alloy materials (composite on the handle and alloy on the barrel). This bat is a middle ground in terms of price (between $200 and $300) and performance. You get the pain reducing composite handle and the durability and game-readiness of an alloy barrel.
- Wood: Most people don’t use wood unless they are a professional or in a specialty league. If you want to take an in depth look at different wood materials and which to choose, check this guide out.
Here Are The Best Bats On The Market
So now that you are more comfortable and knowledgeable about the bat buying process, you should take a look at my top choices for the year. If you are looking for a little league player, click below:
If you are a senior league, high school or college player, click below to see my top 17 choices for you:
If you have any questions about what you’ve read comment below and I’ll make sure to answer as fast as possible. You can let friends, family and teammates see by sharing on social media.
Are you ready to take your game to the next level this year?