Finding the perfect baseball bat is not easy and is getting more complicated due to the advancement of materials and technology. This also means you have a high chance of finding the baseball bat built for you, but how to choose a baseball bat?
Whether you are a newbie and just starting with a Tee ball-bat, or you’re a pro-high-school player looking forward to your first college game. So, if you ever thought, what size of bat would suit me? Then, here are a few tips to help you and guide you on which type of baseball bat is made just for you.
How to Choose a Baseball Bat?
Choosing the next and right baseball bat is a serious decision for any player. It’s one of the common mistakes youth players and sometimes their parents make. Don’t choose a bat just because it’s popular or used by professional players. If it fits the one, it doesn’t mean it’s the right choice for you as well.
Options are unlimited, especially for those who are new to the game. Before purchasing your next baseball bat, you should know how to measure for one that is truly according to your needs. It is based on two different factors: length and weight.
Step 1: Take Necessary Measurements
Baseball bat length is measured in inches. The common length for youth players ranges from 24 to 32 inches, and for teens and adults, it ranges from 30 to 34 inches. A longer bat can help you gain greater reach and allow you to hit balls on the outside of the plate. But it may slow you down because longer bats have more mass and require more power to swing them.
The most common method to check which bat length is good for you is to stand the bat up next to your leg. Ideally, the bat’s top should reach up to your hip bone. If it exceeds your hip bone, it may be too long. If it only reaches your mid-thigh, it’s too short.
The next factor that you should consider is wing weight. It influences the swing mechanics, bat speed, and overall comfort and effectiveness of the player. It determines how the bat’s weight is distributed along its length and how heavy it feels when swung.
Swing weight is categorized from light to balanced to end-loaded. The light bats have lower swing weights, making them easier to swing. The weight is more shifted towards the handle. Preferred by players who prioritize speed and control over power.
Balanced bats have an even weight distribution. It offers a good mix of swing speed and power, potentially good for many hitters. It is also good for those who want more control of their swing. End-loaded bats weigh the end of the barrel. They have higher swing weights and can generate more power. But it requires more strength and skill to control.
The drop weight of a baseball bat is used to help the players find a bat that’s appropriate for their size and strength. Here is the formula to find the drop weight of the bat:
Bat Length(in inches) – Bat Weight(in ounces) = Drop Weight
For example, if a bat weighs 30 inches long and weighs 20 ounces, its drop weight is -10. The larger the drop weight number, the lighter the bat will be. Typically, the higher the competition or league level (from the youth league to the pros league), the lower the weight drop. A lower weight drop means the bat feels more heavier. So, a -5 drop weight bat will feel heavier than a -10 drop weight bat.
The most common weight drops in many baseball leagues are -13, -12, -11, -10, -9, -8, -5, and -3. As you move towards high school baseball, the weight drops lower, making the bat heavier.
Step 2: Find the Right Material.
Not all baseball bats are made up of the same material. Over the years, advanced technology has provided new ways to improve baseball bats. Most leagues allow three to four types, but youth leagues are often limited to bats made of wood.
1- Wood Baseball Bats
Wood baseball bats are traditional because they have been around since the start of the game. It is made from different types of wood, like maple, ash, and Birch. Each offers different benefits.
Firstly, Maple bats are dense and hard, which provides a firm hitting surface, potentially leading to more power. Secondly, Bats made from ash are more flexible and forgiving than maple bats. It has a larger sweet spot but is less durable than maple. Thirdly, Birch is the balance between maple and ash. It is hard like maple but offers some flexibility like ash. It’s a good choice for hitters transitioning from metal to wood.
With a smaller sweet spot, wood bats are less forgiving than metal or composite bats. But provides a unique feel and feedback upon contact. The wooden bats can break or crack on impact, especially if the ball contacts the bat outside the sweet spot.
2- Composite Baseball Bats
Composite bats are made from materials similar to carbon fiber and polymer. It is coated with a hard surface. It offers less vibration and reduced sting on hands. They usually require a break-in time to reach better performance.
This bat is best for players who want to improve their performance. They can be more expensive and less durable in colder weather.
3- Alloy Baseball Bats
Aluminum or alloy bats are typically made from aluminum and other metals. Alloy bats have been the wood bat alternative for a long time. These bats are ready to use immediately after the purchase. So, there is no need for a break-in period.
Alloy bats have smaller sweet spots than composite bats but still can deliver good performance. They are known for their durability. Also, they are less likely to crack or break compared to composite bats. If you want a long-lasting baseball bat, alloy bats are a better choice. Also, it is good in cold weather.
4- Hybrid Baseball Bats
Hybrid bats are a combination of alloy bats and composite bats. To take advantage of the unique benefits of each, The barrel of the bat is usually made from alloy to provide durability and immediate impact. The handle is made from composite material to absorb the vibration. It reduces the sting felt in the hands-on miss-hit balls.
These bats offer a balanced feel. It makes it easier for players to control their swing and improve bat speed. They are typically more durable than composite bats and perform better in cold weather, like alloy bats. It is more expensive than alloy bats but cheaper than high-end composite bats.
Step 3: Consider Baseball Bat Certifications
Your bat must be certified by the appropriate organization supported by your league. Baseball certifications are the standard set by governing bodies. They ensure that bats are suitable for certain leagues and levels of competition. There are three major certifications: USA, BBCOR, and USSA bat certifications.
1- USA Certification
The USA certification rule was implemented in 2018 and only allows those bats to be used that are made after 2018. The certification ensures that the bat has a least -3 drop weight, and the barrel’s diameter should be 2 5⁄8” or less.
They are designed for youth leagues such as Little League Baseball and American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC). Bats with USA certification will carry an official “USA Baseball” stamp.
2- BBCOR Certification
BBCOR stands for Batted Ball Coefficient Of Restitution. It is standard for adult baseball bats used in high school and college leagues. They measure the “trampoline” effect of the bat. Specifically how much energy is lost when the baseball bat touches the ball.
All BBCOR-certified bats will have a “BBCOR Certified .50” mark on the barrel or taper of the bat.
3- USSSA Certification
USSSA certifications refer to the standards set by United States Specialty Sports Associations. This certification is typically required for bats used in leagues for players aged 5 to 14. USSSA-certified bats must hold a BPF of 1.15 or less.
The BPF stands for Bat Performance Factor, and it measures how fast a ball can come off the bat. A BPF of 1.15 means that the bat allows the ball to leave up to 15% faster if thrown by hand.
Bats Certified from USSSA can have different barrel sizes, which include 2 1⁄4”, 2 5⁄8”, and 2 3⁄4” diameters. USSSA certified bats need a certification mark. This mark usually includes the BPF rating, such as “USA BPF 1.15”. Starting in 2020, USSSA bats also come with a new NTS (National Testing Standards) stamp. Some leagues accept USA certifications. They also allow USSSA-certified bats.
In conclusion, choosing the right baseball bat depends on the abovementioned factors. That’s why there is to single answer for how to choose a baseball bat. All you need is to analyze your requirements and consider a bat accordingly.
Still, if you have any more queries, write them in the comment section.