How to choose a baseball bat
Even if you’re a seasoned ball player, choosing a new baseball bat can be an overwhelming task. The good news is that, in today’s saturated sporting goods market, you have a ton of options to choose from as far as bats go.
Back in the day, wooden bats were your only option. If you like this traditional feel, you can still opt to use a wooden bat today. Modern wooden bats are made from Maple, Ash, Bamboo, Birch or a blend of wood and composite materials (“composite wood”). If wood isn’t for you, you may consider a composite bat instead. We’ll dive into the differences between bat materials later on in this guide. To start, let’s go over how to size a baseball bat.
Baseball bat size chart
If you’re still growing, you may be in between a couple of bat sizes. Perhaps the best way to determine if a certain bat length is right for you is to see how it feels when you swing it. While certain bat lengths are recommended for certain heights, you can’t discount personal preference and feel when it comes to choosing a baseball bat. If you need a place to start, here are some general sizing guidelines.
First, use a tape measure to measure the distance between the center of your chest to your index finger. Make sure your arm is outstretched fully so that it’s perpendicular to your torso. Then, compare this measurement to a bat sizing chart.
There are a couple of easy tricks you can use to test if a bat is the right size for you. One way is to compare a bat's length to that of your wingspan. Take your bat and stretch one of your arms out to your side so that it’s perpendicular to your torso. While keeping your other arm at your side, take your bat in your outstretched arm and put the knob of the bat in your armpit. If your hand reaches the barrel of the bat, it’s the correct size.
Youth bat sizes
For players who are still growing, it’s best to start off with a smaller kids’ bat. For kids who are 3’4” or shorter, we recommend starting off with a bat that is 26 inches. For every four to five inches that your child grows, you can increase their bat's size by one inch until your child is fully grown.
What is bat drop?
In addition to bat length, you’ll also need to determine the best bat weight for you based on your height and size. Bat weight is determined by what’s called a “drop,” which is just the difference between a bat’s length and its actual weight. For example, if you have a bat that measures 32 inches in length, and weighs 22 ounces, you’d have a drop weight of -10. The equation is simple:
(Bat length in inches) - (bat weight in ounces) = Drop weight
The bigger the drop weight is, the lighter a bat will be. It’s important to know what the regulations are for how light or heavy your bat is allowed to be. At the high school and collegiate level, bat drop is regulated, and a player cannot use a bat with a drop over -3.
Types of baseball bats
Back in the day, wooden bats were the only option available to baseball players. Many players today still opt to use wooden bats, but most will go with one of the newer, more technologically advanced materials. Popular options include composite baseball bats, hybrid bats and alloy bats. Let’s take a look at some of the key differences.
What is BBCOR?
BBCOR stands for “Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution.” It’s a classification of bat, mainly used at higher levels of the game (namely high school and collegiate). BBCOR certification was invented to enhance the safety of the game. Essentially, bats did not used to be regulated for how they performed once they were broken in. If a bat started to get too “hot,” to the point where it was creating dangerous situations for pitchers and fielders alike, there was no way to regulate whether or not a bat should be deemed “illegal” to use.
To account for this, the NFHS and the NCAA introduced BBCOR certification testing. Explaining how BBCOR is tested can be a little confusing, but here are the basics:
- BBCOR measures how much energy is lost when a bat makes contact with a baseball; based on how the bat performs during this test, it’s assigned a number.
- The higher the number a bat registers on the BBCOR scale, the “hotter” it is. (Aka, the more dangerous it is.)
- BBCOR testing is only done on non-wooden bats.
- All bats that pass the BBCOR test receive a “.50 stamp” to indicate that they adhere to regulations.
- .50 is the BBCOR threshold that’s been agreed upon by the NFHS and the NCAA, because this is only slightly higher a score than a wooden bat would register on a BBCOR scale.
Best baseball bats
As with any piece of gear, when it comes to buying a baseball bat, everyone wants to know one thing: what’s the best bat on the market? The sheer volume of baseball bat options available for purchase can make the task of choosing a bat seem overwhelming. Never fear -- that’s where we come in.
Best baseball bat brands
Some of the top baseball bat brands include Louisville Slugger, Easton, Rawlings, DeMarini and Marucci. We’ll break down what some of the most popular bat models are among these brands, as well as price points for each.
The Solo features an anti-vibration handle construction that helps reduce sting. Overall, this is a well-balanced bat with a smooth swing.
- Retail price: $179.95
- Average SidelineSwap price: $87.50*
If you’re looking for a BBCOR-certified option, the Prime is a great choice. A three-piece bat, the latest Prime features a new RTX end cap that allows for a longer barrel shape and improves durability.
- Retail price: $449.95
- Average SidelineSwap price: $300*
The CAT 7 is a great bat option for younger USSSA players. The one-piece alloy construction helps make the CAT 7 a well-balanced bat that still has a stiff feel upon contact. A redesigned barrel creates a sweet spot that’s double the size of the bat’s predecessor, the CAT 6.
- Retail price: $179.99
- Average SidelineSwap price: $100*
If you’re looking for sheer power, the Beast X Speed BBCOR from Easton is a solid option. The Best X is constructed with Easton’s patented Advanced Thermal Alloy Construction (ATAC alloy), which is the source of the bat’s reverberating sound and enduring strength.
- Retail price: $229.95
- Average SidelineSwap price: $95*
The VooDoo is a lightweight, two-piece, hybrid bat that provides the smooth feel of a composite bat. The X14 alloy barrel features enhanced variable wall thickness throughout the barrel for increased power and performance.
- Retail price: $249.95
- Average SidelineSwap price: $75.00*
The Rawlings Velo features 3C technology that delivers consistent composite compaction for unrivaled durability and performance. The two-piece, composite construction helps generate faster swing speeds while reducing sting in the hands on mishits.
- Retail price: $249.95
- Average SidelineSwap price: $60*
(* Prices are based off of the average price of used items of the same make, model and year.)
Interested in selling your old bat?
If you're in the market for a new bat, chances are you're not going to get much use out of your old bat anymore. Rather than have your bat from last season collect dust in the garage, why not list it for sale on SidelineSwap? With our new pricing tool, you can estimate how much your bat will sell for and what price you should list it at.