Why buy a baseball bat?
Some leagues and teams will supply their own baseball bats, but it can be worth your while to invest in a personal bat regardless. Owning their own bat means that your child can practice their batting and bunting skills at home or otherwise outside of practice, whenever and for however long they want. If your child is planning to go to baseball or softball camp, taking batting lessons, playing recreationally, or just enjoy playing baseball at home or in the park, having their own bat on hand gives them much more freedom. It also means that you can spend extra time outside of practice and games getting used to the balance, weight, and feel of a bat, so you know exactly how to best swing and use it during game time.
What should you look for in baseball bats?
- Size: The length and weight of the bat will be important, as you will want to ensure your child can comfortably swing the bat for optimal results. Shorter players will generally need a shorter bat. Heavier bats will generate more power, while lighter ones can be swung faster. The difference between the length and weight of bats is measured by something called the “drop ratio.” The higher the drop ratio, the lighter the bat. Youth bats tend to measure somewhere between 24 and 34 inches long, with a drop ratio somewhere between -10 and -13.5.
- Balance: Baseball bats can be either evenly balanced or end-loaded, with more weight distributed to the end of the bat’s barrel. One isn’t really better than the other, as it largely comes down to personal preference. End-loaded bats feel heavier and are thus harder to swing, so they’re favored by power hitters. Leadoff hitters or players who want to be able to place their hits tend to lean more toward balanced bats as they provide superior control and are easier to swing.
- Construction: Construction is another huge factor, particularly the barrel construction, as this will largely determine a bat’s feel, as well as the size and placement of its sweet spot. The bat’s barrel may be composite, alloy, or hybrid. Composite bats have the largest sweet spots and will hit the ball further, though they’re also more expensive. Alloy bats (typically aluminum alloy) are less likely to crack and cost less money on average but have smaller sweet spots, and baseballs don’t pop off as well. Hybrid bats have elements of both, so they’re a nice middle ground between the other two choices, price (usually) included.
Should you buy a metal or wooden baseball bat?
It will come down to personal preference (and league association rules, as some leagues may prevent the use of one or the other), as there are benefits and drawbacks to both metal and wooden baseball bats alike. Wooden bats are generally better balanced, provide more feedback when they come into contact with the ball—which makes it easier to find the sweet spot on the bat—and, contrary to what you might think, actually have better natural power and heft. Metal bats, on the other hand, have bigger sweet spots, are more durable since they’re much less likely to break or shatter, and they can turn a weak hit into a base hit much better than wooden bats can.
DeMarini BBCOR Baseball Bat
This bat features energy transfer and a durable alloy barrel that's perfect for power hitters.
Pros: This alloy-composite hybrid bat is made to last, with every component made from high-quality materials. The wide, one-piece alloy barrel provides a huge sweet spot that makes this model an ideal choice for power hitters of all ages, while the component handle is nice and firm, providing even more power. It’s got a good heft to it without completely weighing down the batter. This bat is also available in four different sizes and weights to better suit different age groups.
Cons: Premium products often come with a premium tag, and this bat is no exception. Even the least expensive size option is pricier than the average baseball bat.
Bottom Line: This premium bat features a hybrid make and more than enough power for you or your child to smash long, hard drives. As long as you don’t mind the higher price tag, your child and his or her friends will love smacking the ball out of the park during games with this truly impressive bat.
BARNETT BB-W Wooden Baseball Bat
This bat provides great power and an ultra-light design that's perfect for beginners just learning how to swing.
Pros: If you have a little one learning to swing or you’re looking for a new bat for backyard play, this classic baseball bat is a great option. A composite bat made from real wood, it’s very lightweight, weighing in at less than a pound. Thus it’s very easy to lift and swing, even for young players and beginners. It’s available in four different lengths, each of which is extremely affordable and budget-friendly.
Cons: This bat is only designed for use with compression balls and other softer baseballs. Thus, it’s better for Tee Ball, practice, or casual backyard baseball and softball games, nothing more intensive.
Bottom Line: This wooden baseball bat is for young baseball players, and it won’t weigh them down. The price makes it a great budget pick, so you won’t have to spend a fortune on a bat your child will outgrow relatively quickly.
Easton SPEED COMP USA Baseball Bat
This bat's light composite construction mitigates vibration on impact and allows lighter players to swing the bat harder and faster.
Pros: This composite-style baseball bat is made from Hyperlite Composite, Easton’s lightest composite material, and is perfect for smaller or lighter players who have trouble generating power or lifting and swinging with heavier bats; it’s got a nice high drop ratio of -13. The carbon zero handle is excellent at mitigating vibration, so it’s less likely to send a shock up the batter’s arms when it makes contact with the ball, and the cushioned 2.2-millimeter flex-grip is very comfortable for your child’s hands. And with five sizes and two different design options from which to choose, there’s a version of this bat that’s suitable for most Little League players.
Cons: The main downside to this particular bat is that it’s not the most durable model on the market. It is prone to cracking, so it may not last you more than a season or two.
Bottom Line: For a high-quality drop ratio bat that will help smaller players smash long drives, this composite bat is a great choice. It’s incredibly easy to lift and swing, even by younger and smaller baseball players, and it won’t cause an unpleasant shock sensation should the bat not hit the ball perfectly in the sweet spot.
Easton ADV Tee Ball Bat
This bat is made of hyperlite composite and features an impressive sweet spot and grip.
Pros: This Tee Ball bat features a one-piece design and is made of hyperlite composite, promising an extremely balanced swing weight that is perfect for young players. Ultralight with a drop ratio of -13, it also features a quality all-sports grip for added comfort and is certified by USA Baseball. The entire bat is well-balanced from handle to cap, so it won’t cause even young children to feel uneven or off balance. And with two color combinations to choose from and three different weights and lengths, there’s a choice for pretty much any Tee Ball player.
Cons: This baseball bat was designed specifically to hit Tee Balls and Tee Balls only, so it shouldn’t be used with any other type of baseball or softball.
Bottom Line: For a durable Tee Ball bat with an impressive sweet spot at a great price, this bat is bound to impress. If you’re planning to enroll your little one in Little League Tee Ball next season, you can’t go wrong with this composite model.
Rawlings Raptor USA Baseball Bat
This classic aluminum bat provides great power and an ultra-light design for its budget-friendly price.
Pros: This baseball bat weighs in at just over a single pound, which makes it a great choice for lighter baseball players who have trouble swinging heavier bats or those who prefer a lighter bat for a quicker swing. This bat also features durable alloy construction and an impressive sweet spot, making it a great pick, especially for its low price tag. There are two different color schemes to choose from and five different lengths. Perhaps best of all, this baseball bat has been approved in all USA Baseball-sanctioned leagues, so you won’t have to worry about it not meeting your league’s requirements.
Cons: This bat does have a longer handle and shorter barrel than some other models. It’s also mainly designed for younger kids under the age of 10.
Bottom Line: There’s a lot to love about this particular bat that was designed specifically with Little League players and games in mind. Even with its shorter barrel, it’s got a nice big sweet spot that makes it easier for young kids to make contact with the ball.
Whether you or your child play baseball as a fun pastime or more seriously, a personal baseball bat is a worthwhile investment. It allows you to better adjust to the weight and balance of the bat on your own time, so you know the most effective ways to swing it when at the plate during a game.