Baseball Bat Buyers Guide

What are modern baseball bats made from, and how does that affect performance and price?

A baseball bat's material is the greatest indicator of its power, durability, and performance. It is also what determines if the bat is approved for a certain league or not. So when purchasing a new bat, it's a great idea to shop by bat material:

  • Wood Bats $ - $$: Used primarily by professional ball players, wooden baseball bats are heavier and have less hitting power than metal bats. These are the only bats permitted in Major League Baseball, so if you have professional aspirations you should start to practice with a wooden bat as you get older. Maple and ash woods are the most popular choices because of their high strength, hardness and density. Wooden bats are generally cheaper than more advanced metal and composite bats, but price depends on the wood type and quality.
  • Aluminum Bats $$ - $$$$: Aluminum bats are lighter and more durable than traditional wooden bats, with increased their hitting power. Although sometimes made of an aluminum alloy, these bats are fairly standard in little league, high school, college, and inter-mural play. The lighter weight of aluminum gives batters faster swings, generating more power that transfers from the wall of the bat to the ball, resulting in harder and farther hits. Lighter aluminum baseball and softball bats also increase the "sweet spot" of the bat, i.e., the hitting zone on the bat's barrel that provides the maximum area for bat-to-ball contact. There a variety of aluminum alloys, mostly combinations of Zinc, Copper, Magnesium and Aluminum. Typically varying by strength, durability, and price, the following is a list of some standard aluminum alloys found in baseball bats today:
    • 7046: Standard aluminum alloy used in most baseball and softball bats.
    • CU31 / 7050: More durable than 7046, with traces of zirconium, magnesium and copper.
    • CU31 / 7050: Increased zirconium content gives these bats more strength than 7050.
    • CU31 / 7050: Contains traces of scandium, making it the strongest of the alloys listed here.
  • Graphite/Titanium Lined Baseball Bats / Softball Bats $$$ - $$$$: Graphite and titanium can be added to thinner-wall aluminum bats to decrease weight and therefore increase the batter's hitting speed. These materials also reduce vibration and the sting you feel upon contact with the ball.
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How do I know which bat size is right for me and my game?

Baseball bats are sized in four different ways; based on weight drop, a Length / Weight ratio, by barrel size, and by barrel taper. Typically, your bat size should relate to your age, size, and skill level, although as you become more experienced at the plate, you may develop a bat size preference that fits your style.

  • Weight Drop: A weight drop is a figure you'll often see describing a bat's size. It refers to the difference between the length of the bat (in inches) and the weight of the bat (in ounces). It is always shown as a minus number and the higher the weight drop, the lighter the bat. For example, a baseball bat with a -10 weight drop would be lighter than a bat with a -3 weight drop.
  • Length / Weight: Baseball bats and softball bats come in a variety of different lengths and weights, designed for different leagues, ages, and preferences. You'll see it expressed as a ratio, for instance, 19/32 would refer to a bat that is 32" long and 19 ounces in weight. The difference between the two numbers refers to the bats "drop." Please Note: Generally, bigger and stronger players prefer a heavier bat since they reap benefits from both the heft and swing power. Smaller and younger players should use a lighter bat to generate a quicker swing and provide better control.
  • Barrel Size: The bat's barrel size is the diameter of the largest part of the bat. The larger and longer the barrel, generally, the larger the sweet spot. Smaller barrel sizes are lighter and allow for more bat speed. The standard barrel size is 2 1/2 inches.
  • Bat Taper: The bat's taper is the diameter of the bat's handle. A bigger bat taper can reduce the sting that occurs when the ball isn't hit on the sweet spot, but it also increases the overall weight of the bat. The standard bat taper is 31/32 of an inch.
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What are the latest baseball bat technologies and advancements?

Baseball bat and softball bat technology has advanced significantly over the years, enabling manufacturers to build lighter, more durable, and stronger bats. Each manufacturer has their own terminology for their designs, but we have highlighted a few of the newest technologies currently on the market:

  • Louisville Slugger
    • Exogrid Stiff-Handle Technology - By trimming the handle's metal in a grid pattern, and replacing it with lighter, stiffer carbon inserts, and a carbon sleeve with unidirectional fibers, ExoGrid technology increases handle strength and stiffness without increasing overall bat weight. Using heat and pressure, the sleeve, inserts and metal wall are bonded together, creating a single, solid unit.
  • DeMarini Baseball Bats
    • Half & Half Technology - The original "Bat That Bends," Half & Half technology combines a Flex-Tuned Evolution Composite handle with an SC-3 Alloy barrel for optimal balance and a monstrous sweet spot. Virtually indestructible, the Half & Half system redistributes weight for optimal balance, allowing players to swing faster with less effort.
    • Positack Grip - Moisture-absorbing composite material provides a secure grip while also reducing vibration and hand fatigue for better feel and control, with or without a glove.
    • TR3 Fused Layer Optimized (FLO) Composite - A specially designed composite handle connects to an aluminum barrel, delivering ultimate performance. Built with compact carbon, which is created using a special manufacturing process that randomly fuses carbon fibers, the bat handle is lighter and stronger, with a more balanced feel than almost anything else on the market.

You also can use batting aids to help you to improve your swing and mechanics of batting.

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What league regulations are there on baseball bats?

Little League Bat Regulations: As of December 30, 2010, Little League International (LLI) expanded a moratorium on composite bats, with the intention of weeding out of competitive play, all bats that exceed advertised standards after they are "broken in." To become approved for play in official Little League games, all new bats must now face and pass laboratory testing to ensure standards are met. This list of approved bats is constantly expanding, so make sure you are aware of and shopping only for Little League Approved Baseball Bats for your Little Leaguer.

High School / College (NCAA) Bat Regulations (BBCOR): As of 2012, all non-wood baseball bats used in NCAA and High School must meet the Batted Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) standard to be considered legal for play. BBCOR standards work to bring the performance of composite and non-wood baseball bats into line with those of wooden bats. Generally, composite bats are banned from play in these leagues, as they tend to fall out of compliance with BBCOR standards over time and after break-in. Composite handles, on the other hand, remain legal. When shopping for a bat for a high school or college player, make sure to look for the BBCOR baseball bat approval either in the name of the bat or its description.

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How do I find the right baseball bat that conforms to my league's regulations, like BBCOR?

With all of these changing regulations, finding the right baseball bat is becoming increasingly difficult! Baseball bats can be pretty expensive, and it's frustrating to buy a bat, and later learn it's not even legal to use in your league. That's why Sports Unlimited has grouped all of your league-approved bats in one place, so you know that whichever bat you choose from that list, will be legal to use next season. Check out our BBCOR bats and our little league bats.

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