The 2017 baseball season is here! While the best gear in the world cannot make a poor player great, bad gear can really have a negative affect on your results. With equipment like bats and gloves, you get what you pay for. To see our top 3 picks for 2017, keep reading. If you need to tweak your swing, you may want to read our review of Steve Springer’s Quality At Bats Academy.
Our philosophy is that you can pay a little more for the best and cry, or you can go cheap and cry, cry, cry. Here are some of our top picks to assist you in maximizing your training and playing at your peak level. Here are our reviews of the new lineup of 2017 BBCOR composite baseball bats.
THE 3 BEST BASEBALL BATS FOR 2017
From Easton: “With the longest two-piece composite barrel in the game, and the fastest swing weight the 2017 Mako Beast BBCOR Adult Baseball Bat will make you feel like a BEAST behind the plate. TCT Thermo Composite Technology with extended speed barrel design provides a massive barrel and unmatched swing speed. Patented two-piece ConneXion technology maximizes energy transfer for optimized feel. Cushioned Hyperskin Grip offers enhanced grip for a softer feel.
What We Like:
- Easton’s patented two-piece ConneXion technology maximizes energy transfer for a solid feel
- 31/32″ composite handle with 1.2mm HYPERSKIN grip. The grip is phenomenal!
- Redesigned Thermo composite barrel – 1.5″ longer than the original MAKO BBCOR bat. That’s more sweet spot!
- Extended speed barrel design combines the game’s longest two-piece composite barrel with the game’s fastest swing weight!
What We Don’t:
- The price: It’s hard to overlook the hefty price tag, but this $400 investment can do some real damage in the right hands.
This is our top pick for ages 12-14. The CF Zen has a MASSIVE barrel constructed from a Paraflex composite, and is the lightest swinging bat in the DeMarini Line.
From DeMarini: Player-driven innovation has pushed DeMarini’s new Senior League lineup of CF Series Composite bats to the next level. New for 2017, the 22% stronger Paraflex Composite barrel packs more of a punch and allows for a more precise weight distribution than ever, so we can create balanced and endloaded versions of our composite bats to better serve different players’ needs. The D-Fusion 2.0 handle reduces vibration and redirects energy back into the barrel, and the Low Pro End Cap and RCK Knob are optimized to help you bring it at the plate. You can find a bat to elevate your game, no matter what type of hitter you are.
What We Like:
- BBCOR Certified
- D-Fusion 2.0 Handle Technology – Reduces Vibration and Redirects More Energy Into the Ball
- Zen Balanced Swing Weight
- Low Pro End Cap – Optimizes Weight, Feel, and Compression Throughout Barrel
- New – ParaFlex Composite Barrel Dynamic Fiber Orientation for Max Performance, Feel, & Durability
- RCK Knob – Perfectly Fits Bottom Hand for a Comfortable Grip
- Two-Piece, Fully Composite Construction
What We Don’t:
- Had reports of cracking. We did not experience this personally, but we have read of other experiences. Of course, any BBCOR bat runs the risk of cracking if not properly broken in. However, there seemed to be more complaints than average.
For those on a budget, this is by far the best bat for the money you can find! In a price range typically littered with only alloy options, COMBAT has created a one of a kind bat. The COMBAT VIGOR is the only baseball bat that offers a 100% composite, one-piece, single wall barrel construction. This design gives the VIGOR an exceptional advantage over the competition. Not only does this result in a longer, extended barrel but it provides explosive power, a lighter swing weight, and essential feedback. Furthermore, the unique single wall barrel produces an extraordinary trampoline effect for maximum pop and a superior feel. Much like that of the popular MAXUM models, the VIGOR uses COMBAT’s Precision Molded Seamless Construction Technology which results in a hardened, ultra-consistent molded bat every time making it perfectly tuned for optimal performance. Additionally, no seams means no dead spots for a dependable performance during every at bat. Plus, as an added bonus, each VIGOR comes wrapped with an ultra-premium Lizard Skins grip for supreme comfort and reduced vibration. This 2017 COMBAT VIGOR BBCOR Baseball Bat: VG2AB103 features a -3 length to weight ratio, a 2 5/8 inch barrel diameter, and the BBCOR Certification making it legal for play at the high school and collegiate level.
What We Like:
- THE PRICE!
- 2 5/8 Inch Barrel Diameter
- -3 Length to Weight Ratio
- BBCOR Certified – Approved for High School and Collegiate Play
- Ultra-Premium Lizard Skins Grip – Supreme Comfort / Reduced Vibration
- One-Piece Composite Design. At Swinging For Fences, this is our personal preference.
What We Don’t:
- Slightly shorter sweet spot than the Mako, but not by much. There is truly very little to dislike about this bat!
HOW TO CHOOSE THE PERFECT BASEBALL BAT
While mastering your swing and understanding the mental side of hitting is 2/3 of the puzzle, the final piece in making the perfect hitter is in selecting the right equipment. Finding the best baseball bat is one of the most important decisions you will make. Which bat is right for you depends on several factors: choosing the best size (length and weight), the best balance (balanced or end loaded), and the best price. Before we get too far, know that the most expensive bat is not always the best performer. That’s why it will be worth it for you to do your research.
This video on how to buy a youth baseball bat is a great place to start:
Weight: The lightest bat is not always best. In fact, while lighter bats obviously aid in quicker bat speed, a little more weight can equal greater power at the plate. You want to know the weight that is best for you. Spend some time at a sporting goods store, or grab a few bats from the dugout and take some practice swings. Find the weight that feels most comfortable to you.
Length: There are some advantages to a longer bat, such as increased reach to drive balls on the opposite side of the plate. However, a longer bat also means more weight. Again, you should take the time to swing some bats of different lengths to find the perfect fit for you.
Barrel diameter: For baseball players 12 and under, the standard diameter is 2 1/4″. That is the regulation size for both Little League and Dixie Youth baseball. There are some travel leagues at this age that will allow a 2 3/4″ barrel, so you should check with your league, and purchase an approved bat. High school and college players are allowed a maximum barrel diameter of 2 5/8”.
League requirements: To avoid an expensive purchase mistake, be sure and check with your league’s requeirements. For example, most High School and collegiate level players have bat requirements but are allowed to use BBCOR-certified bats.
BAT MATERIAL: COMPOSITE VS. ALLOY
Composite bats are manufactured by layering fibrous materials–often carbon. This allows the manufacturer to better control the bat’s weight distribution, producing more balanced or end-loaded bats. A balanced bat is constructed with the weight evenly distributed while and end-loaded bat purposely has more weight toward the barrel’s end to produce more power.
Pros of Composite Bats
- Composite bats don’t sting the hands as much with a miss-hit ball
- Typically have more of a trampoline effect and produce a greater pop with a larger sweet spot
Cons of Composite Bats
- Because the manufacturing process is so much more complex, these bats tend to be more expensive
- A composit bat has to be broken in. It typically takes 150-300 hits to properly break in a bat.
Often referred to as aluminum or metal bats, alloy bats have been used for decades. The science behind the alloy bat has improved over the years as have the bats themselves. Before you scoff at the prospect of using an aluminum bat, read this:
Pros of Alloy Bats
- Due to the minimal manufacturing cost of alloy bats, they tend to be much less expensive
- Alloy bats do not have to be broken in. They are as hot as they will ever be right out of the wrapper.
- A good alloy bat will have a longer life-span than a composite bat.
- Alloy bats will not crack, rather they will dent. A dented alloy bat can still be legal so long as it meets certain league requirements.
Cons of Alloy Bats
- Typically not as well balanced and will yield a smaller sweet spot and less pop.
- There is a pretty broad price range, and you generally get what you pay for.
All professional baseball players use wood bats. There are 3 species of wood used in crafting a wood bat: ash, maple, and birch.
Ash has a great grain structure for great flexibility and balance. Ash rarely breaks due to its forgiving nature. It has handsome grain lines and great quality.
Maple is the most common species of wood used in professional bats. The sound of a maple bat’s crack against a fastball just can’t be matched. Due to the harder nature of the wood, it adds strength and power when hitting the ball. Maple bats also tend to last longer due to its closed grain structure, which prevents flaking.
Birch has been gaining ground as a popular wood in professional baseball due to its hardness being comparable to maple and its flexibility. It’s almost the perfect blend between maple and ash–giving the hitter the confidence of a hard wood and the flexibility and forgiveness of ash. Birch is also a lighter wood and allows lighter swing weights.