Once you have graduated from the younger baseball leagues, your options in terms of equipment simultaneously expand and shrink in different ways. For bats, the size of the bat will be far more heavily regimented with 2 ⅝” diameter and drop 3 required. However, this is also when you can start experimenting with other materials.
For high school and collegiate players, as well as amateur adults, this opens the door to playing with composite and hybrid bats. However, these bats must also be regulated by the BBCOR standards that the alloys they are used to follow.
Unfortunately, this can create a situation where the player does not know what to do: stick with the
familiar or try something that may increase performance but at a significantly higher cost. That is why we have put together a list of the 5 best BBCOR bats with a breakdown of their strengths and weaknesses. Then we offer an exhaustive buyer’s guide so you understand the nuances of each quality of the different types of bat available.
Best BBCOR Bats 2017
|Marucci Cat 6|
|One-piece alloy construction||2 5/8"||1 year|
|Louisville Slugger BBCOR Omaha Baseball Bat||ST+20 alloy||2 5/8"||1 year|
|Easton S400 3 BBCOR Adult Baseball Bat||Durable aluminum alloy||2 5/8"||1 year|
|Easton 2015 BB15S3Z S3Z ZCORE -3||Aluminum||2 5/8"||1 year|
|Easton MAKO COMP 3 BBCOR Adult Baseball Bat||Composite||2 5/8"||1 year|
Marucci Cat 6 – Best Collegiate BBCOR Baseball Bat
Marucci is a relatively new brand of sporting equipment at a little over a decade and a half old. However, in a short amount of time, the brand has become known as a manufacturer of bats that can rival and occasionally surpass their more storied competitors.
The Cat 6 though, should be understood as a bit of a more specialized bat. If you are looking for a bat to goose your power, you should keep looking. However, if you are a contact hitter or looking for a bat to give more control to natural power, then this may be the bat for you.
Unfortunately, this bat will lose its pop and is liable to dent in the hands of power hitters or when striking fastball after fastball when the speeds go over 70 mph. Moreover, despite being barrel heavy, the barrel itself is a tad short which leads to a slightly smaller sweet spot than some players may prefer.
Louisville Slugger BBCOR Omaha Baseball Bat – Best Budget Model For Power Hitters
Louisville Slugger is one of the legacy brands of baseball bat makers. They were formed in the late 1880s by a woodworker whose son just happened to watch baseball and suggest a local superstar in a hitting slump have a bat made by his father. The rest is history.
Since then, Louisville Slugger has earned a reputation as a high quality bat maker, though they are not necessarily known as the “best” any longer. Still, this product is excellent for those batters on a budget who might be looking for something to take to the cage and practice their swing.
However, this bat is almost exclusively designed for power hitters. Aside from the previous qualities mentioned–which all generally align to a power hitter’s preferences–the balance is extremely top heavy when compared to everything on our list except for the Marucci. Moreover, this is also one of the least flexible bats on our list.
Easton S400 3 BBCOR Adult Baseball Bat – Best High School Bat
Easton is a brand known for making some of the best bats made out of any material and used in any league. Having been one of the older brands to fully embrace the modern advancements in technological design and alternative materials, Easton often leads the pack in terms of BBCOR innovation.
Their first entry on our list comes in the form of a bat designed more for the contact hitter. This bat does many things well, though it it does not necessarily blow you away in any given category.
However, you may want to buy more than one at a time with your savings, because S400 is also one of the least durable bats on our list, regularly denting and losing its pop after a relatively short period of time–a problem especially egregious when pitchers can throw the ball faster.
Moreover, the sweet spot is a bit small while the handle is designed to be extra thin. Altogether, this makes the bat better for high schoolers who are dealing with slower pitches and are smaller in general.
Easton 2015 BB15S3Z S3Z ZCORE -3 – Best Hybrid BBCOR Baseball Bat
Easton again makes our list, though it will not be the last time. However, this time, the brand brings something a little new to our review. This is the first BBCOR bat that uses some element of composite material in its construction.
Keep in mind that this design feature will offer some advantages, but it eliminates the ability to use this bat for any league lower than high school. However, it seems Easton took that in consideration as they do not offer the widest range of sizes for this bat either. This is generally fine, but shorter players may have difficulty finding a S3Z Core that fits them.
However, this is a not a bat for contact hitter looking to generate more power. In fact, all of the even balancing and weight reduction to increase swing speed means you need to bring the power with you as the bat will not offer much more. Moreover, this bat is not necessarily the most durable–especially if you are hitting balls thrown 80 mph or faster.
Easton MAKO COMP 3 BBCOR Adult Baseball Bat – Best Composite Bat
After dominating our list, it should come as no surprise that our final product is an Easton. However, this time we bring you a bat from Easton’s flagship line, the Mako series. This series is designed to be an all purpose bat that is suitable for power or contact hitters.
The main difference between this bat and the others on our list is that this is the only entirely composite bat. As such, there twill be a few things to keep in mind if you want to get the most out of this product. First, you will need to break in this bat with plenty of practice swings. Unfortunately, this bat will actually require a longer break in period than even most other composite bats.
Unfortunately, this is also the most expensive bat on our list, which also should not be surprising since it is the flagship model. However, this bat may be slightly geared towards contact hitters as the sweet spot is a touch small. Moreover, numerous powerful hits can shake the end cap free or lead to the handle cracking.
The length of the bat will play an important role in how you swing it. Keep in mind, while you might see a number of charts on the internet and elsewhere, there is no universally right sized bat. Even people of the same height will have different length arms, and plenty of players have reasons for why they prefer a bat shorter or longer than recommended.
Regardless, there are a few things that are often true, regardless the batter in question. First, the longer the bat, the further the reach. This is just common sense, but it also means the bat is likely to be heavier, leading to a slower swing. Second, while shorter bats might enable quicker swings, the lighter weight and shorter length will limit your power and swing coverage.
Much like length, this attribute is often tied to the player’s size. However, unlike length, this quality is far more common for players who use a different recommendation to overcome. Specifically, the weight of the bat, while often correlated with the weight and size of the person, will just as often be determined by the strength of the batter.
Essentially, a heavier bat will slow down your swing. Concurrently, a heavier bat will also carry more momentum and allow you to hit the ball farther. For exceptionally strong batters, the additional weight does not slow down their swing enough to keep them from choosing a heavier bat to goose the potential power they can generate from a solid hit.
Here is where things can get a bit tricky. While everyone is familiar with wood, generally in maple and ash, as well as aluminum, some of the other materials may not be as familiar. Beyond the two common ones just mentioned, there are numerous types of alloys, often undisclosed as trade manufacturing secrets from brand to brand, as well as composites.
Currently, composites have become quite popular due to the structural advantages they provide. A composite bat is made from carbon fiber or contains a high content of carbon fiber–though the latter will often be referred to as a hybrid bat. Composites are also significantly more expensive than alloy bats.
The carbon fiber material allows the batter to generate a faster swing without sacrificing power. However, composite bats do not hold up well in even moderately chilled climates, running the risk of breaking below 65 degrees, and require a 100 to 200 swing warm up before they are properly “broken in.”
Alloy bats, on the other hand, do not require any break in period and are ready right out of the bag. Moreover, alloy bats do not suffer from any of the potential breakage issues when the temperature starts to drop and can be used if damaged–which often takes the forms of a dent rather than a break.
However, alloy bats are heavier and will generate a slower swing speed. Alloy bats also tend to have a smaller sweet spot and generate less pop due to their stiffer construction. Though, alloy bats are notably less expensive than composite bats.
The drop is determined by subtracting the length of the bat in inches from the weight in ounces. This number will heavily influence how heavy the bat “feels” to player while swinging it–especially if they are using a bat that is not ideally sized for them. The more the drop, the lighter the bat will feel.
For high school, college, and various degrees of professional play–including minor leagues–the largest drop available is -3. In fact, high school and college must use a -3 drop bat, though professionals can use bats with a lower drop.
Ultimately, the drop can often give you a rough idea about how quickly your will swing the bat and the type of power you can expect it to generate. For high school and collegiate players, the only way to increase or decrease either swing speed or power is to play with a different length bat.
Sweet Spot (Barrel Size and Taper)
The sweet spot of a baseball bat is arguably the most important quality to consider. This essentially dictates how easy it is for the batter to make solid contact with the ball which ultimately determines power and accuracy.
Even a weaker can can still generate solid power with a larger sweet spot. Moreover, the additional accuracy of a larger sweet spot will give a more controlled hitter the ability to position their hit better. This strategy is largely responsible for Ichiro Suzuki’s incredibly hitting average.
The sweet spot can be determined by a couple factors, though the most obvious is the size of the barrel. However, barrel size is far more limited than some of the other variables related to bats. For high school players and above, 2 ⅝” is the maximum diameter allowed.
In terms of factors that can be altered to improve the sweet spot of the bat, the most common way these days is to shrink the bat’s taper. The taper is the point where the barrel of the bat narrows into the handle. This essentially provides more barrel to hit the ball with. Moreover, an exaggerated taper will also provide the batter with a quicker wrist rotation that adds torque to their swing and increases the pop of the ball off of the bat.
Beyond the taper, there are numerous internal architecture designs of the bat’s barrel that can goose the sweet spot a bit, but each manufacturer does things differently and fiercely guards that secret.
Considering a top of the line baseball bat can cost hundreds of dollars but is exposed to intense stress and extended battering from striking the ball. This quality is somewhat determined by the architecture of the bat but is far more affected by the bat’s material.
In this regard, there is a fairly clear progression of durability that starts with composite materials and ends with aluminum. However, there is a caveat that, depending on the architecture of composite bats and how well they were broken in before use in a game, they have the potential to be the most durable.
Still, composite bats will always carry with them the limitation of effectiveness and loss of durability if used at temperatures below 65 degrees–a temperature that is not that difficult to find in numerous regions during the spring or fall.
There are two types of bat construction: one piece and two piece. Each of them aim to correct one issue, while they ultimately exacerbate another. Which you prefer is going to hinge heavily on what issue each tries to correct affects your play more.
A one piece bat is stiffer and more balanced than a two piece. This allows the bat to produce a quicker swing with a better contact. However, this does come at the expense of a bit of decreased power and more vibration.
Conversely, a two part bat is more flexible. This prevents the bat from transmitting as much vibration on a miss hit. Moreover, this makes the bat a bit heavier which allows the batter to generate more power–though the weight is almost entirely in the barrel, making it a bit unbalanced.
The flexibility of a bit is a bit of a give or take consideration. Ultimately, the bat’s flexibility will impact a number of qualities, but in terms of hitting, it has a fairly direct effect.
Essentially, the more flexible the bat, the less power the same batter can generate.
However, a more flexible bat is far more likely to remain durable after numerous hits. Moreover, a more flexible bat will often transfer vibration better to avoid causing discomfort or pain after a hit outside of the sweet spot.
At the highest levels of competition, this is not truly considered even a remotely acceptable tradeoff, but may be more attractive at the lower rungs of competition to avoid potentially paying more after a bat breaks.
Regardless, different types of hitters will prefer different flexibilities to their baseball bat. A contact hitter is liable to prefer a stiffer bat so that they have better control over the strike and location of the hit. Power hitters, on the other hand, will often prefer the whip-like action of a more flexible bat.
As mentioned previously, the swing weight refers to how heavy the bat feels when swung. While the drop of the bat can influence this quality, the way the bat is balanced will often have more of an effect.
Conversely, a bat balanced further down the barrel will feel heavier when swung. This can generate more power, but it can also make the swing less controlled. As such, bats with a barrel heavy balance are more often preferred by power hitters than they are general players.
When you hit a baseball with any part of the bat that is not located in the sweet spot, the bat will respond by sending waves of vibration throughout this body. Depending on the construction and material of the bat, this vibration can be uncomfortable or downright painful to the player.
Much like durability, this is a feature that generally follows a straightforward progression. However, unlike durability, the progression of more vibration to less flows in the reverse from aluminum to composite.
Though, in fairness, it is not truly the amount of vibration that causes the pain, but the frequency. However, hybrid bats with a composite handle and an aluminum barrel offer the best of both worlds as well as generating a whip-like effect–though this requires the batter to be more accurate to achieve consistently better results.
Relegated strictly to the use of non-wooden bats, the end cap is an often overlooked part of the baseball bat. However, in order to give batters more freedom and customization, as well as any competitive advantage they can eke out, manufacturers are beginning to find novel ways to slightly alter the end cap to achieve different effects.
Another element that the end cap can affect is the swing weight. Since the end cap is literally the furthest point of the bat away from the hitter during the swing, a heavier end cap will give the bat a barrel heavy balance. While this may make the bat a bit more difficult to control, it will also allow the batter to generate more power from their swing.
Depending on what type of batter you are and what type of competition you are liable to face, not every bat will be ideal for your style of play. A power hitter will likely prefer a bat with barrel heavy balance and extra large sweet spot. While a contact hitter might also desire a large sweet spot, they are unlikely to give up pop and swing speed to do so.
For the power hitters out there, we recommend either the Louisville Slugger or the Easton SZ3 Z-Core. While the former is better for practice or players on a budget, the latter offers an excellent balance of features that allow power hitters to get the best of both worlds.
For contact hitters, it is difficult to go wrong with Easton’s flagship Mako model. Made entirely out of composite materials, this bat is one of the best performing. However, it is vital that you make sure to properly break it in with 200+ practice swings before you try to use for competitive play or else you run the risk of damaging it or permanently limiting its performance.