Finding the right bat will make a huge difference in an individual’s batting average performance over the course of many games. A well-crafted bat can increase a player’s confidence and improve hitting distance. You don’t need to break the bank to get a well-performing bat, but it is a good idea to find one with the correct weight and length to match the size of the player. In this equipment guide, Dugout Debate covers all the bases: an overview of the best youth baseball bats of 2017, information on youth bat regulations, the most important things to look for, and how to pick the right bat for a youth player. All the bats that made the cut are constructed to last multiple seasons. Whether it is your first time purchasing a quality youth bat for your child or teen or you’re upgrading from an older model, there are some clear winners that are worth checking out. If you’re looking for BBCOR bats for adult baseball players we have a guide here.
Overview of the Best Youth Baseball Bats
Here is a chart of the most popular youth baseball bats for this season.
|2016 Easton S50 Youth Baseball Bat||Aluminum ; One-Piece ; +6 Sizes||-10|
|2016 Demarini Uprising Little League Bat||Aluminum ; One-Piece ; +6 Sizes||-13|
|2016 Rawlings Prodigy Youth Bat||Composite ; One-Piece ; +4 Sizes||-12|
|2015 Easton S500 Youth Baseball Bat||Aluminum ; One-Piece ; +4 Sizes||-13|
|2016 Rawlings 5150 Youth Bat||Aluminum ; One-Piece ; +5 Sizes||-13|
|2014 Marucci One Senior League Baseball Bat||Aluminum ; One-Piece ; 1 Size||-10|
|2016 Miken Freak Youth Baseball Bat||Composite ; Two-Piece ; +2 Sizes||-11|
|2015 DeMarini Voodoo Overlord Youth Baseball Bat||Aluminum ; Two-Piece ; +5 Sizes||-13|
|2015 Easton S1 Youth Baseball Bat||Composite ; Two-Piece ; +4 Sizes||-12|
|2015 Combat Portent G3 SL -10 Senior League||Composite ; One-Piece ; +3 Sizes||-10|
|2016 Easton MAKO Youth Baseball Bat||Composite ; Two-Piece ; +10 Sizes||-11, -12|
|2016 DeMarini CF8 Youth Baseball Bat||Composite ; Two-Piece : +5 Sizes||-11|
|2016 Louisville Slugger SL Prime 916 Big Barrel Baseball Bat||Composite ; Two-Piece ; +6 Sizes||-10|
What is BPF 1.15?
BPF stands for Bat Performance Factor. It is a measurement of how fast the ball comes off the bat. The terminology used to describe this phenomenon is the trampoline effect of the bat’s barrel. This standard was put in place by USSSA (United States Specialty Sports Association) to protect pitchers and other players from dangerous ball speeds. A BPF of 1.15 has been found to be roughly the equivalent of the BPF of a wood bat. Youth bats must be meet this standard and be stamped with the 1.15 BPF mark to be approved for play. Nearly all aluminum alloy and hybrid bats clear this standard, but it gets touch-and-go with composite bats. All of the bats that made our list pass BPF criteria. If you are unsure of the rules governing your league, it’s a good idea to check with the coach or league director.
How to Select the Right Youth Baseball Bat
Buying a youth bat is certainly more involved now than it used to be. Back in 1884, there was only one commercial bat available: the Louisville Slugger. There are now numerous brands, materials, and lengths. We’ve long since waved goodbye to the days of grabbing any old bat that may have been collecting dust in the garage for years. Youth leagues have become extremely competitive and players are looking for anything that will give them an edge. Youth baseball bats are the most difficult bat type to select because youth players differ so much in their ability and size. Bat selection will have a significant impact on hitting technique and swing speed. We include a chart below that aids you in finding the ideal bat size for the player’s height and body weight.
Youth baseball bats are constructed with composite, aluminum, or are a hybrid of both. Unlike high school and college leagues that accept up to 2 5/8 inch barrels, nearly all youth leagues mandate a 2 ¼ inch barrel bat: Little League, Babe Ruth, Pony Baseball, Dixie Youth, Cal Ripken, Dizzy Dean, USSSA, and AABC. There are some exceptions though, and if your league allows you to take advantage of larger barrels such as 2 5/8 or 2 ¾ you’ll want to look at our best youth big barrel bats section.
The best youth bats are often lighter, with a drop (length-to-weight ratio) between -8 and -13. Drop weight is calculated by subtracting the length of the bat from the weight. So a bat that is 34 inches long but weighs 26 pounds has a drop weight of -8. A bat that has a drop weight of -13 will be easier to swing than compared to a -8 bat. Remember the heaviest bats are always the best. Too heavy, and the bat will be hard to swing and control. But if you go too light, and the hitter will lose some ability to hit the ball with optimal power.
To summarize, these are the major factors you want to key an eye on:
- Bat length. Measured in inches. Usually range from 27” to 32” in length.
- Bat weight. Measured in ounces. We’ve included a couple charts to give you an idea.
- Length-to-weight ratio. Youth bats have the largest drop weight of any bats available from around -7 to -14.
- Construction material. Alloy bats usually made from aircraft grade alloys, composite bats made of composite fibers, hybrid bats combine different materials such as alloy with carbon fibers.
High school starts for most kids around 14 or 15 years of age. In these leagues, BBCOR certification is required. If you’re looking for BBCOR baseball bats, we have a guide here. A helpful test is that if a player cannot keep their arm straight and hold the bat at shoulder level for 10 seconds, the bat is too heavy for them. If you follow the basic chart you’ll likely find a bat that passes this test. The bat length and weight really go hand-in-hand as the same version of a bat, the longer forms will always be heavier.
Different Parts & Types of Baseball Bats
Whether your kid wants a bat to join in the neighborhood baseball game or you have a high schooler that is working towards a college scholarship you should arm yourself with a bit more information to help you find the perfect bat. Obviously, a great bat can’t turn an average player into a champion by itself, just like the Nimbus 2000 didn’t make Harry Potter the best seeker in Hogwarts history. A player’s skill and innate ability come first and foremost. But having the right bat can improve hitting dramatically, and aid the hitter in developing good habits.
The Anatomy of a Baseball Bat:
These are the different parts that are found in almost every bat. Though each manufacturer puts their own spin on these parts, all bats have the same basic anatomy.
- Barrel – The top part of the bat used to give the ball a good smacking. This is where the Holy Grail lies known as the “sweet spot.” The longer the barrel, the more forgiving and larger the sweet spot. A smaller barrel may have a reduced sweet spot, but it will be lighter weight and, therefore, offer a faster swing speed. Bat manufacturers use the diameter around this part of the bat to come up with barrel size.
- Grip – This part of the bat covers the handle. Most bat grips are either leather or a synthetic. Rubber grips will decrease sting in the palms when making an awkward connection.
- Knob – The end closest to the hitter is completed with a knob. This helps the player maintain a steady grip even after the deadliest of slices.
- Taper – The taper of the bat is metric that indicates the diameter of the bat’s handle. A larger taper will also reduce the sting when the bat makes contact with the ball. Obviously, a larger taper will add additional weight to the bat.
- Cap – This is located on the end of the bat farthest from the batter. Some caps are designed to retain all the energy the bat generates when it strikes the ball.
The Types of Baseball Bats:
Here are the main types of bats that manufacturers offer.
- Aluminum. Aluminum bats have become very popular with kids that play league sports. In some leagues, aluminum bats are required. Another term many manufacturers use as a substitute for aluminum is “alloy.” If they say it is an alloy bat that’s just another name for aluminum. They are lighter than traditional wood bats, allowing a player no matter what their size to swing hard. These bats are available in single or double layer construction, with double layer offering greater power and ball rebound. Aluminum, unlike composite and wood bats, do not require a break in period.
- Composite. Composite bats are generally the most expensive bats on the market. These use the latest bat technology. They are made of fibers such as Kevlar, carbon, graphite, and fiber glass. Thanks to these fibers, they are even lighter than aluminum alloys, making for the absolute fastest swing speed. They do have a break in period of about 100-200 swings.
- Hybrid. These bats are constructed as a middle ground between aluminum and composite bats. They are a less expensive option than full composite, and offer some of the benefits of composite type bats.
- Wood. Most youth leagues do not allow the use of wood bats. These bats are more of a nostalgia throwback thing. Some hitting coaches will incorporate the use of wood bats to help teach kids proper swing technique. A major drawback of wood bats is that they have a tendency to break.
The Best Youth Baseball Bats 2016-2017
Here is our line-up of the best youth baseball bats.
#1 The Easton S500 “Speed Brigade” Youth Baseball Bat is one of the most popular bats found in youth leagues. It has a -13 drop weight. Easton is one of—if not the—leading manufacturer of the best bats available. The S500 is constructed with a 7050 Aircraft Alloy that offers a good balance of swing speed and durability. It is a one-piece design, therefore the handle is also composed of the 7050 alloy material. The pro tack grip on the handle is perfect for youth players. The barrel diameter of this bat is 2 ¼ inch and is offered in 27 through 32 inch options.
#2 Step Up: Easton S1 Composite Baseball Bat. This is a more expensive bat but is engineered with Easton’s IMX composite material instead of aluminum.
#3 The Easton 2015 MAKO COMP is a -11 youth baseball bat. It also incorporates the speed design that is found in many premium youth bats, optimized for low M.O.I. It’s a two piece design that features Easton’s patented CXN ConneXion technology. Everything in this bat is seamlessly integrated, from the well-sized handle knob to the sturdy end cap. The CXN tech limits handle vibration and redirects contact energy back to the sweet spot for an insane trampoline effect and next level pop. (Watch out Pitchers)
#4 The DeMarini 2015 CF7 Youth Baseball Bat is a full composite barrel using DeMarini Paradox Plus material. This bat is extremely high tech and has a price tag to match. But if you want one of the best, this is it. It has a -11 drop and nearly perfect balance and power. DeMarini is right next to Easton as a premier bat manufacturer. The D-Fusion FT Handle will eliminate any contact sting so even the most awkward foul balls won’t cause any problems. DeMarini also covers this bat with a 12 month warranty.
#5 Marucci Chase Utley Youth Bat: If you’re looking for a wood bat, this is a gorgeous black maple bat.
#6 Louisville Slugger TPX Triton II: This triple wall composite bat will blow people away everytime a pitch connects with the sweet spot. The sound is a mix between an artillery round going off and a solid wood bat nailing a home run.
#7 Demarini Vexxum Youth Baseball Bat: Another top youth bat that is a great value.
The Best Youth Big Barrel Baseball Bats 2016-2017
These are also commonly called Senior League baseball bats. These bats are used by players in youth leagues that allow a larger bat diameter than the standard 2 ¼ inch barrel. Here are the top bats in this category: