Bats have gotten more confusing since coach would bring a bunch to the game and players just picked one. In fact, coaches rarely bring bats anymore.
Now parents and players have to do their homework to get at least a legal bat to use for whichever organization or division they play in. After figuring that out, the next task is material, swing weight, and of course, cost.
Let’s start with some bat vocabulary
Drop: The difference between the length and the weight of the bat. Another words, a 30″ bat weighing 20 oz. has a drop of 10. example: 30″ (Length) – 20 oz (Weight) = 10 oz. or Drop 10
Composite: Any material that is not alloy . If just the end cap or the handle is carbon , or composite, the bat must be listed as composite. Composite baseball bats incorporate a reinforced carbon fiber polymer into the bat’s construction. This composite material can make up all or part of the bat. . Composite bats tend improve their trampoline effect over time. They need to be “broken in” to reach full performance.
Broken In: Breaking in a bat actually means cracking the bat! Composite bats are very stiff and do not have much of a trampoline effect when new. By breaking in the bat with repeated soft toss, the composite material begins to form small cracks. These small cracks are what allow the bat to flex and improve the trampoline effect. Think of a windshield, hard when intact, but when smashed, it becomes more pliable. Eventually the cracks become too prevalent and the bat becomes dead, or breaks.
Trampoline Effect: The trampoline effect is defined as the bouncing back of the ball off of a bat. It occurs during and after the collision of the ball and bat, and results in the ball springing off the bat. Another words, ball hits bat, bat gives a little, then springs back. When the alloy is pushed past it’s tolerance, the result is a dent. Just imagine a kid on a trampoline vs a kid jumping off the ground. Wood, BBCOR and USA Baseball bats have very little trampoline effect.
Alloy: Alloy bats can be made up of a variety of aluminum metals. Companies will use lower grade alloys for less expensive bats and high grade alloys for better performance. They do not all use the same kind. The trick is to find the strongest, most flexible alloy to produce the best trampoline effect without denting. Companies will use the phrase, “thin wall” when promoting their alloy bat.
Thin Wall: The trick to a high performing alloy bat, is to find an alloy that can be made thin, but pliable enough that it doesn’t dent or break. The pliability produces the best trampoline effect.
Swing Weight: This has become very important with the new rules. Bats are generally made with a balanced feel or more “end loaded” Power hitters usually prefer the end loaded bat for more pop, where as contact hitters prefer the more uniform swing weight of a balanced bat. Bottom line, with the BBCOR and USA standards limiting the performance of the bat, the faster a batter can swing (under control) the more pop he/she can generate.
USA Baseball: Basically this is the same standard as BBCOR. The difference is the weight. Since only kids would be using USA bats, they are allowed to use any weight they like, not just drop 3 like BBCOR. The trampoline effect of USA bats is greatly reduced. Click Here to check stock.
BBCOR: The acronym BBCOR stands for Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution. The idea is to make a non wood bat perform close to a wooden bat by reducing the trampoline effect. Reducing exit speeds of a ball, improves safety for fielders. This standard regulates how much energy is lost during the bat’s contact with the baseball. The higher the number a bat registers in the test, the more trampoline effect it has. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) and National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) decided that 0.50 would be the maximum value a BBCOR bat could achieve; which is only slightly higher than that of a wood bat. Not all products reach that goal! BBCOR bats MUST Have a drop of NO More Than 3 (- 3 will be written on the bat) Click Here to check stock
This is the old standard for baseball bats that’s still in use today for all leagues who did not conform to USA Baseball Rules or BBCOR rules. AAU Leagues mostly use this standard.
Middle School Baseball seems to be a toss up. Most will require BBCOR bats, however that is not the rule. It is best you talk to the coach about this before buying a bat.
High School Baseball Requires BBCOR bats. Wood may be acceptable as well, but most high school players will use an alloy or composite bat.
Travel Baseball and AAU usually allow the old standard or USSSA Baseball. This system allows for a 1.15 BPF Stamp. BPF stands for Bat Performance Factor and measures the how fast the ball comes off the bat. Bats must meet this BPF standard to be approved for play. Travel ball has started to put limits on the drop allowed for certain ages such as a 13 yr old can not use more than a drop 8 and 14s no more than a drop 5.
Youth Organizations such as, Little League, Pony League, Dixi League, Babe Ruth Baseball, and Cal Ripken Baseball will use the USA Baseball standard.
Wooden Bat Leagues: Typically a wooden bat league will ONLY allow a one piece, solid piece of wood. They will not allow Bamboo (as this is actually grass and laminated) I have found that some American Legion Organizations WILL ALLOW Bamboo, you should look into it as bamboo is extremely strong.
Bats can be made of multiple materials, and put together in multiple ways. I’ll try to sum it up the best I can.
Parts: Bats can be made up of different parts, that are then fused together is some way. Manufacturers do this to sound cool, and to change bat performance. Parts include, the knob, handle, collar, barrel and end cap.
Wood Bats: The definition of a wood bat is a solid wooden stick. If you change that in any way, it’s no longer “wood”. Bamboo is grass and uses a laminated (sandwich with glue) construction. Some companies have wood barrels, but composite handles. They are composite bats, not wood. Wood bats can be made into many different “turns” or shapes. The style of knob, thickness of handle and shape of barrel give a wood bat the characteristics individuals may be looking for.
One Piece Bats: A one piece is simply that, a bat constructed using only one material. Even if they add a composite end cap, it becomes a two piece.
Two Piece Bats: Manufacturers will mate a composite handle (flex and strength) to an alloy or composite barrel using a special collar. This reduces sting to the hands and allows the manufacturer options for stiffness or flexibility.
Multi Piece Bats: When manufacturers realy want to mix things up, they will mate a carbon handle with an alloy barrel and add a carbon end cap. The Rawlings Quatro has an inner and outer barrel, making this a four piece bat. The idea of the multi piece bat is to reduce sting, improve stiffness or flex, change swing weight, and improve performance.