Baseball Bat Guide | How To Choose The Best Baseball Bat
In recent years bat technology has drastically changed the world of baseball bats. As such, they are completely different to those found in A League of Their Own or Moneyball. As you will discover throughout this article, baseball bats and softball bats are no longer just standardized aluminium. Size, material, measurements, league rules, and team brand all play a role in choosing the best bat for you.
Baseball360 has over 246 baseball bats, 41 different gloves, 61 catcher gloves, and 19 hats to choose from. With all the different options and regulations out there, it can be overwhelming for parents and players to decide which baseball bat is best.
The aim of this article is to simplify this process and guide you in your quest to find the baseball bat which will help you hit home runs.
Baseball Bat Anatomy
Understanding the components of a baseball bat will allow you to familiarize yourself with the various parts and know what exactly to look for when buying. A baseball bat has five essential components from bottom to top: the knob, grip, handle, barrel and end cap.
The knob at the bottom helps to stop your hands from slipping from the grip of the baseball bat where your hands are. Above the grip is the skinny taper which extends to the wider barrel. The barrel is where contact with the ball should be made whereas the end cap helps improve your bat’s control whilst limiting the added weight.
Difference in League Regulations
When selecting your baseball bat for the upcoming season, your bat must comply with the rules and regulations of the league you take part in. The most common are the Canadian Little League, High School Baseball, College Baseball, and then Major League Baseball.
Canadian Rules and Regulations
These are some Official Rules set by Baseball Canada which give you an idea on the strict youth regulations you must meet depending on your league:
- For 13U, 16U Youth Girls, 21U Women and Senior Women National Championships, a max barrel of 2 ¾ Inch with (i) a 1.15 BPF (Bat Performance Factor) or (ii) USA Baseball Model is permitted.
- For Canada Cup and Canada Games, youth baseball bats can only be wood or bamboo. No composite bats are allowed.
- For 15U Youth Men, 18U, 21U and Senior Men championships, only wood bats, bamboo bats and wood composite bats are allowed.
Baseball360’s youth bats comply with the three most common governing bodies: USABat, USSSA and BBCOR.
- The USABat standard creates a more wood-like bat performance in youth bats while still allowing players to swing lightweight models.
- BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) creates the same wood-like performance in adult baseball bats, even after they are broken in.
- USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association) provides energy transfer bat regulations for leagues governed by USSSA.
Every league, regardless of age, will follow a specific bat standard for their equipment regulations. To give a general starting point:
- Youth players between the ages of 4 and 6 will likely need a tee ball bat.
- Youth players between the ages of 7 and 13 will likely need a bat meeting USA or USSSA standards.
- Youth players between the ages of 14 and 18 will likely need a bat meeting BBCOR standards.
For information on all the regulations visit the Little League website.
High School and College Baseball
USABat Standard bats or BBCOR bats must be used at the Intermediate Baseball and Junior League Baseball Divisions. At the Senior League Baseball Division, all bats must meet the BBCOR standard:
- Maximum drop weight of -3
- Maximum barrel diameter of 2 5⁄8 inches
- Most wood bats are allowed
There are multiple ways to recognize a BBCOR bat. The easiest way is to look for the BBCOR certification stamp.
What to consider when choosing the right baseball bat
Once you have understood and read the regulations that you must adhere to, the next step is choosing which baseball bat is right for you, specifically the correct size of baseball bat.
1. Baseball Bat Chart
A fantastic resource on bat sizing is the Baseball Bat Chart which uses your height and weight to give you a sense of what sized bat you should be looking for. But how accurate is this chart? Well, there are other ways to measure the perfect baseball bat size.
The length of a baseball bat can affect our swing mechanics and plate coverage which is why it needs to be perfectly suited to you and your skills. If the baseball bat is too long then you may swing too slow as it's too heavy, yet if it is too short then you are not covering your strike zone.
There are three ways to measure whether a bat is the right length:
- Place the bottom of the bat in the centre of your chest, pointing it to the side, parallel to your outstretched arm. If you can comfortably reach the top of the bat with your fingertips, that means that the bat is the right length.
- Position the bottom of the bat in the centre of your chest, facing outward. If your arm can reach out and grab the barrel of the bat, then it is the correct length.
- Stand the bat up against the side of your leg. If the end of the bat reaches the centre of your palm when you reach down, it is the appropriate length.
Unlike length, the ideal weight will depend on the feel of the bat and preference rather than any mathematical measurement. The best test of a baseball bat with a perfect weight is if you can hold it out in front of you for about 30-45 seconds. If you cannot do this then it may be too heavy.
This is also where you can encounter what is known as drop weight. A bat’s drop is the difference between the weight of the bat and its length. For example, if a bat weighs 20 ounces and is 30 inches long it will have a drop of -10. The greater the drop weight, the lighter the bat.
Larger, stronger players tend to favour less of a drop weight, which can result in increased power. Smaller players can benefit from greater drop weight, which can help increase bat speed.
4. Teen vs. Adult
Remember that even though your bat is the perfect size for you now, you won’t be able to use the same one forever. Once you transition to adult bats a question of power vs control will have to be taken into consideration. The choice will vary depending on what type of fielding player you are.
A middle infielder or out fielding player will more likely go with more baseball bat control whilst a corner infielder, outfielder, or catcher will prefer a powerful baseball bat with an extra inch of length to add weight and power.
Does a heavy bat equal power?
Studies have been conducted to determine if the weight of a bat corresponds with power and ball velocity. Data shows that a heavier bat produces a faster batted ball speed. This makes sense since a heavier bat will bring more momentum into the collision. However, you will hit slower and get tired quicker if you do not have the strength and endurance to support a heavy baseball bat.
One of the greatest influences on baseball bat performance is its material. Materials range from metal, composites, hybrids, or wood, and each of these has its advantages or disadvantages.
Composite and metal baseball bats are traditionally used for youth baseball through to college baseball. Wood, meanwhile, is used throughout the professional levels, as well as for specific amateur and travel ball leagues/organizations. Be sure to check with regulations before purchasing!
Non-wood bats are built from either an alloy, composite, or a combination of the two.
Composite baseball bats are made with a layered material that is easy to distribute, giving the ability to make bats with a variety of swing weights, from balanced to end-loaded.
Pros of Composite:
- Minimize the sting from mis-hits by reducing vibration to the hands
- Often have a larger sweet spot than alloy bats
Alloy is a mixture of two or more metals. It’s a material that has been commonly used in baseball bats for years. The only drawback is the weight of a heavy metal baseball bat.
Pros of Alloy:
- Stiffer feel through the swing zone
- More durable material
Hybrid bats combine a composite handle with an alloy barrel to allow players to enjoy a combination of a lightweight feel with durability.
Pros of Hybrid:
- Typically, cheaper than composite bats
- Lighter feel
- Requires no breaking in
There are three main types of wooden baseball bats that players use:
- Ash. Ash provides flexibility and will rarely see multi-piece fractures when the bat breaks.
- Maple. This is preferred by most professional players as maple is naturally harder so it provides an unmatched strength and durability.
- Birch. Birch provides a combination of strength, flexibility, and durability. Birch is also less dense than the other woods, giving it a lighter feel.
One Piece vs. Two Piece Baseball Bats
Another note to consider when choosing a bat is whether you select a one-piece or two-piece design. The main difference between these two options is flexibility and energy transfer your stick will have.
One-piece bats are a continuous piece of metal. Upon contact, there is little flexibility, resulting in little or no energy loss. This is great for a powerful and balanced swing, but mishits can cause stinging in the hands.
Two-piece bats are created by fusing a barrel and handle together. This split design can create more flexibility in the swing, resulting in faster bat speeds. Two-piece bats can also withstand vibrations.
Top Canadian Brands
Baseball360 holds over 12 different baseball and softball bat brands. The most popular of which are B45, Louisville, and Rawlings.
B45 bats are swung by hundreds of Major League and Minor League baseball players. Based in Québec City, B45 is known for its quality and innovation in the wood baseball bat industry. They offer high quality, handcrafted Yellow Birch bats suitable for all levels of play, from recreational leagues through the professional ranks.
Louisville Slugger is the official bat of Major League Baseball and is the most well-known and respected name in the baseball industry and produces high quality bats.
For power hitters who rely on the force of their hit, Rawlings bats are the ideal deal. They are balanced, pack a solid punch of power in their barrel and when wielded by a powerful player, these bats outshine most other bats on the plate.
There are other brands available for you to explore but if you are new to baseball then these are three popular brands to begin with.
What about other equipment and softball?
Baseball360 caters to baseball and softball in the bats and equipment that they offer. Unlike baseball, softball bats are commonly made of composite materials, also aluminium, though wooden bats may be used. Bat size and length are also slightly shorter to accommodate for the larger, but less dense ball.
Baseball360 also provides a wide range of products including baseball hats, pants, catcher equipment, and baseball batting gloves. You can also book a batting cage to test all the new products you have purchased and practice your skills for the upcoming league!
Unlike bats, baseball hats and gloves do not need anywhere near as much decision making than bats do. The company offers 41 different batting gloves to choose from, ranging between $20 and $75 depending on the material, size, and brand of gloves you are looking for. They cater their catcher gloves for both men and women and can be used with both baseball and softball.Likewise, with their hats, Baseball360 offers a wide range of baseball hats for all weathers and conditions. There are 19 baseball hats to choose from which include a wide variety of batting teams which can complement your choice of bat, such as a B45 New ERA 950 Snapback for $29.99 which is perfect to wear alongside B45 bats.