There’s nothing quite like getting a solid hit on a baseball with a good bat. Picture this – you get yourself into position, ready your stance, eye the pitcher as they wind up the pitch, and swing the moment you know you’ll hit it to get rewarded with the satisfying sound of the bat making contact with the ball. You smile as the ball flies off in the distance as you sprint your way to first base.
Of course, none of this would be possible if you didn’t have a bat in the first place!
So if you’re a baseball novice or someone buying a baseball bat for your loved ones, it can be daunting to go out and buy a bat. Keep reading this article on ” Baseball Bat Buying Guide” to assist you. With so many options, endless variety, bat drop, different regulations, and all sorts of bat materials to choose from, it’s dizzying to go through all of them! And that’s what we’re here for – to help you find the bat that fits your needs and get you on that home plate so you can start swinging.
Basics Of Sizing (Baseball Bat Buying Guide)
There are several ways to go about sizing for an adult, and the easiest way to find a baseline is by using a size chart. You’ll have to get your weight and height, but you can simply find what ranges you fit into afterward.
There are several size charts that you can find on the internet, but it’s all standardized, so if you find one good size chart, you’ve seen them all.
Once you have got your baseline length of bat down, the next step is simple – start swinging bats around! I know it might seem rudimentary, but it’s one of the best ways to find a bat for you. If you get a good feel for a bat – not too heavy that your swing speed is compromised and not so light that you can’t generate any power behind your swing – that’s most likely the bat for you. We recommend you start with the shortest bat for your category and slowly increase the size of the bat by an inch until you get the right swing for you
However, if you’re pretty new to baseball or simply want to resize your bat, there are several methods of measurement you can use.
One method is to place the bat right beside your leg while you’re wearing your baseball cleats. If the bat can touch your palm while you are standing straight up, then it’s most likely the correct length for you.
Another method is similar. Place the knob of the bat (that’s the rounded end of the handle) on your chest and extend your arm and the bat right in front of you. If your hand is able to touch the barrel – the rounded, thicker portion of the bat – the chances are that bat length is right for you high!
So to recap:
- Use a size chart to get the baseline of how long you need your bat to be for your weight and height.
- Place the bat beside your leg and see if the knob reaches your palm without bending your elbow or having to stretch to reach it.
- – Place the knob on your chest and reach for the barrel. If you can reach it with no problem, it’s a good fit
- Finally, get some practice swings in to see how it feels. A good feel will help you hit way more than bat length will.
Bat weight is important but is usually dependent on what leagues you are playing in, which will be discussed later.
What about sizing for younger players? Well, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered
Bat Sizing For Youth Players
Now you may be buying a bat for one of your kids and may not be sure of how to size the bat for them. Because their body proportions aren’t the same as that of an adult, use these metrics to get a general idea of the bat weight and length that you might want for them
As a general rule, young players that are between 3’ to 3’4” start with a 26-inch bat. You will probably want to increase the bat size for every 4 to 5 inches that your kid grows.
Firstly, if you want to get the right length of the bat, you’ll need your child to be standing with their cleats on. Unlike the previous measurement method, where we used the palm of the hand to determine length, we use the hip of the youth. Your aim is to get the knob of the bat right at their hip. If it’s taller or shorter than the hip, chances the bat is too long or too short, respectively. However, this is a general rule for players below ten years of age, as around 11-12 years old, they hit their growth spurt, and this will no longer be accurate
Weight is also an important factor to consider for choosing the right bat for your kid. When in doubt, there are Little League size charts that you can use to identify what weights and weight drops are ideal for your youth. Weight drops will be discussed later.
Some general rules of thumb to follow are the following
> if your child weighs at or below 60 pounds, you’ll need a bat that’s around 26 to 29 inches long
> if your child weighs more than 70 pounds, then you’ll need a bat that ranges from 28 to 32 inches long
There are also some ways to see if the bat that your kid wields is the right weight for them.
The first method involves having the youth hold out the straight out with their arm extended for about 30 to 45 seconds. If they can hold it out without too much difficulty, this bat is probably the right weight. For older players who often require heavier bats for their leagues, reduce the amount of time to 20 seconds.
Another method you can use is to see if the player can handle the bat without losing control.
- First, stick their arm straight out in front of them with the bat perpendicular to their arm
- Then, have them rotate the bat so that it is upside down – knob up, and barrel down
- Finally, have them rotate the bat so that it is upright
All these maneuvers are to be done with the arm extended. If the player can control the motion without wobbling all over the place, it should be a good bat weight to swing with control. Otherwise, you might want to look for a lighter bat.
The Lowdown On Drop Weight
So you’ve got the length and the weight of your bat down pat, but there’s still one more parameter that you have to consider while you’re picking your perfect bat: drop weight
Now, what the heck is drop weight and why is it so important?
Well, to answer the first question, drop weight is simply the length of the bat (in inches) subtracted from the weight of the bat (in ounces).
Bat weight (oz.) – Bat length (in.) = drop weight
So a bat with a length of 29 inches and a weight of 26 inches will have a drop weight of -3. What does this mean for you? This means that the bigger the number in drop weight, the lighter that bat will be.
Now lighter bats might seem to be the way to go; after all, the lighter the bat, the easier it is to swing, right? You’re not wrong, but the more lightweight the bat is, the less inertia and therefore less power you’ll be able to generate with each swing. Conversely, if you have a heavier bat, then you’ll be able to generate way more power in your hits, but at the cost of reducing your swing speed. It’s all about finding the balance between the two
Ideally, the taller the player, the longer the bat. However, if you aren’t able to handle the weight that comes with the length of the bat, then you’d have to look for a bat with a larger drop weight.
However, this also comes down to your play style. If you aim to put the ball into play every time you step onto the plate and not really into hitting powerful home runs, then chances are you are a contact hitter like the famed Ichiro Suzuki and might want to get longer, lighter bats. If you really want to slam that ball out of the park and get those huge home runs, then chances are you are a power hitter like the legend Babe Ruth and might want a bat that’s shorter and heavier.
There are charts all over the web that incorporate bat drops with age, so be sure to check those out
Another thing that you might want to keep in mind is that baseball associations may have specified bat drop requirements, as we will soon discuss
- Drop weight is a simple formula of bat length (in.) subtracted from bat weight (oz.) = drop weight
- Drop weight signifies how light or heavy the bat is in relation to its length
- Larger number drop weights usually mean lighter bats with faster swing speeds but less inertia and, therefore, less power
- Lower number drop weights mean heavier bats with slower swing speeds but greater power driving each swing.
- Contact hitters gravitate to higher drop weight bats, while power hitters are more likely to enjoy lower drop weight bats
Bat Sizing Rules And Regulations
Just because you have a good bat on your hands, you’re probably ready for a casual baseball game with some friends or your neighborhood association. However, If you’re itching for more competition, you’ll have to know about the bat requirements for baseball leagues across America.
USA Baseball Bats
On January 1, 2018, there were some youth organizations that adopted a new USA Baseball Bat Standard. These changes were supposedly made to make the game more standardized and preserve the long-term integrity of baseball games under this League. These standards were adopted by a wide array of organizations such as the Little League, PONY, Babe Ruth, Pony, Dixie Youth, Cal Ripken, and the American Amateur Baseball Congress. T-ball bats also fall under these new standards. These new USA Baseball bats have a range of barrel sizes ranging from 2 1/4″ to 2 5/8” barrels. The weight drops have an extensive range varying from a light -13.5 to a heavier -5.
HIghschool and College Leagues (BBCOR)
The high school and college leagues requirements are a little different from that of the previous league. They instead require all bats to be BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution ) certified for it to be used in play. This replaced the old BESR (Bat Exit Speed Ratio) method of approving bats.
The certification is related to the bat’s trampoline effect when the ball makes contact with the bat. In practice, this makes BBCOR bats behave more like wooden bats. Also, these high school and college leagues require a standardized weight drop of -3 and a bat length of 31” to 34”.
All you have to do is check for the BBCOR certification on bats if you’re unsure what your buying is meant for this league. Loads of bat manufacturers create bats specifically for BBCOR, so you don’t have to worry about finding one that falls under their umbrella.
Big Barrel Bats for Pony League
The United States Specialty Sports Association (USSSA) did not follow the USA Baseball Bat Standard change. Under these rules, USSSA approved baseball bats are still available for use under these leagues. All you have to pay attention to is the “USSSA 1.15 BPF” sticker, and you can be sure that these bats are legal for play. The size of the bat barrels may vary anywhere from 2 5/8” to 2 3/4” in diameter, with weight drops that range from -12 to -5. However, it’s important to note that USSSA certified bats are no longer legal for play for leagues under the new USA Baseball Bat Standard, so know which leagues you’re playing for!
Fastpitch and Slowpitch Softball Bats
If you’re playing for a softball league, know whether you’re playing for a fastpitch or slowpitch league as bat standards are different between the two. Also note, whether the league uses Amateur Softball Association (ASA) bats or USSSA bats because leagues using one certification often ban the other, so again – be confident and check which league you play for and their standards for play
If this is all still confusing to you, just remember to check what league your team is playing in and make sure your bats are up their standards. If you are just playing casual games and are not playing in any tournaments, any bat drop weight should suffice.
Types Of Bats
Since we’ve talked about the finer points of bat picking, like the length, weight, and drop weight, we now move on to the last thing to consider when picking your bat: the type of material your bat is made from. Now typically, at the amateur level, there are only three types of materials to consider
– Alloy Bats
– Composite Bats
– Hybrid Bats
Now you may consider wood as one of the bat materials that you’ll pick. Still, wooden bats are usually only seen in professional play, practice, and specific tournaments, so we’ll only be talking about the three materials above.
Now picking one of the three might be rather daunting, but don’t worry, we’re here to show you the pros, cons, and particulars of each of the three bats.
Composite bats are called this because they are made from layered materials such as carbon fiber. The material these are made of makes it relatively easy to distribute the bat’s weight in several ways. The manufacturers of alloy bats can make them balanced – with the weight evenly distributed throughout the bat – or end-loaded – the bat has more weight in the barrel – which gives the bat a heavier swing. Because of their build, composite bats have a larger sweet spot compared to other bats and have less sting on mishits. However, Composite bats have a break-in period of 150 -200 hits before they can hit peak performance and are not suitable for use under temperatures below 60oF – else, they run the risk of cracking and breaking.
Pros of Composite bats
> Weight distribution is either balanced or end-loaded
> Larger sweet spot than other bats
> Less sting on mishit balls due to build
Cons of Composite Bats
> Are more expensive than bats of the same class
> Unable to be used in cold conditions
> Require a break in period before it “pops” to its full potential
– To break in a bat, use 150-200 practice swings at low to medium power
– Make sure to rotate the bat slightly each time you hit to distribute the breaking-in evenly.
Note: Do not try breaking in your bat by hitting a tree or rolling with applied pressure. This will damage your bat and void any manufacturer warranty that you have.
Alloy bats are bats made from an aluminum alloy and have been around longer than composite or hybrid bats. Because of their build, they are usually more durable and made from a single piece of metal. They have a smaller sweet spot than other bats and are end-loaded. They do not have the composite bat weakness of cold weather and can be used under any condition! However, they usually have more sting on mishits and, they often have a weightier swing
Pros of Alloy Bats
> Are cheaper than most bats in its class
> Are hot out of the wrapper and do not require a break-in period
> Tend to be more durable than composite bats. When damaged, they dent instead of crack and are still able to be used. If a barrel ring can fit around a dented bat, it’s still legal for use.
Cons of Alloy Bats
> Have a smaller sweet spot than other bats
> Tend to be heavier than composite bats of the same make
A good rule of thumb to follow when it comes to alloy bats is that higher-quality bats tend to have larger sweet spots, and the better the balance
Hybrid bats combine the best of both worlds between alloy and composite bats. Hybrid bats are usually constructed with a composite handle and an alloy barrel. This gives the bat the balanced nature of composite bats and mixes it with the durability of alloy bats. Hybrid bats are usually balanced in weight and have fewer stings on mishits like most composite bats. They have a sweet spot that is smaller than a pure composite bat but larger than a pure alloy bat of the same make. They have the durability of the alloy bat in that it dents rather than cracks, but the handle may undergo the same stress under cold weather as a normal composite bat does. However, Composite bats are not legal in all leagues, so there is that to consider when buying this type of bat
Pros of Composite Bats
> Has a lower price tag compared to pure composite bats
> Balanced weight of composite bats
> Less sting on mishits
> Has the durable barrel of an alloy bat
> Has an average-sized sweet spot compared to pure alloy and composite bats
Cons of Composite Bats
> The handle has the weakness of cracking under cold weather
> Is not legal in all leagues
There are also one-piece and two-piece bats to consider when purchasing your bats
One-piece bats – Stiffer construction means more balance, but poor vibration control meaning more sting on mishits
Two-piece bats – have a more flexible build leading to greater vibration control.
Picking the right bat for you may be a daunting task, but the correct information and knowing what you want in a bat will help narrow it down for you. Taking into account length, weight, drop weight, the league you’re participating in, and the material of your bat should help you pick the perfect bat for you. We hope that we’ve helped you make informed choices on the bat you’ll be buying and that soon you’ll hit those pitches like there’s no tomorrow!