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We have years of experience with different pitching machines and pitching machine types. We discuss our the best pitching machines here.
The best pitching machines have three independent wheels. This allows for all types of pitches. You can save money by buying a machine with less power. As long as the device can reach 60mph, you can adjust the distance to recreate game speed timing for almost any situation.
#1 by Hack Attack – Junior
The Junior Hack Attack is priced around $2500, while the regular hack Attack is $3500. The differences are in power and size. The Junior throws upwards of 70mph while the regular throws over 100mph. The Junior is also tiny (and more portable) compared to the regular one.
#2 by Louisville Slugger – Triple Flame
These are usually priced under $200.
#3 by Iron Mike – MP-6
There are a few different Iron Mike machines and, if you’re serious bout it, worth looking on their site about the differences. We have an MP-4 but the MP-6 is great too.
|Machine Type||Price Rank||Ball Durability||Pitch Options||Speeds||Portability||Realism|
|Pneumatic||Cheapest||Best||Non Existent||Low – Below Average||Easy||Poor|
|Single Wheel||Cheapest||Worst||Non Existent||Below Average||Average||Poor|
|Three Wheel||Most||Best||All||Above Average||Average||Best|
The fact there are many different options in the pitching machine space proves there are also many needs and budgets. One man’s vision for his pitching machine is not the same as the next. In that sense, our advice won’t be for everyone looking for the best pitching machines. It is not foolproof.
However, in terms of the backyard cage, high school, or college coach looking to get the most bang for his buck on a batting machine, then we are confident our choice is the best one on the market. The reasons for that are to follow.
|Brand||Machine Type||Max Speed||Warranty||Feeder?||Wheels||Pitch Types||Price|
|Junior Hack Attack||Both W/ Upgrade||75||5 Year||Additional||3||All||$2,199.00|
|Hack Attack||Both w/ Upgrade||100+||5 Year||Additional||3||All||$3,299.00|
|ATEC M3||Baseball Only||100+||5 Year||Additional||3||All||$2,799.00|
|Rawlings Pro Line||Baseball Only||100+||5 Year||Additional||3||All||$2,999.00|
|Triple Play Basic||Separate Machine||3||All||$2,099.00|
|Triple Play Pro||Separate Machine||3||All||$2,899.00|
There are three reasons we think our advice on pitching machines is legitimate. For starters, we don’t sell pitching machines. We are not biased by the inventory in our garage, hoping someone may end up pulling the trigger. Second, we have experience with several pitching machines over several years. We have used them all from ATEC to Jugs and from Rawlings to Iron Mike.
The third reason may be the most compelling. We can decide the best pitching machines for the money because we were once the person on Google searching for the “best pitching machines for the money.” Then, upwards of 7 years ago, we spent many hours ensuring our dollars were best spent. Now we speak from years of pitching machine usage under real team use. Through heat, cold, indoor and outdoor batting practice, as well as travel ball for pop flies, our pitching machine experience is tried and true.
Compared to other three-wheel machines, the Junior Hack Attack is nearly a steal. Granted, after spending $2,000, most walk around as they’ve just been robbed. But, in comparison to the market, they compete directly against it, it is the best price.
When we bought ours years ago, you could only purchase the machine directly on their website. We called them, spoke to a real person, and then sent them our money. Today, you can buy this thing on Amazon with PRIME shipping for as cheap as they are on their site.
Occasionally, they do have a deal or two, so it is worth checking their website. You may also benefit from calling the group directly and telling them you read the review on justbatreviews.com. Not that that will give you any discounts, but it might not hurt!
The Junior Hack Attack possesses the five components that make a great pitching machine.
If you need something that throws 90+, then check ATECs M3 or Rawlings’ Pro-Line Three Wheel. If you want a single-wheel machine that unrealistically pitches dimpled yellow balls, then Jugs’ Changeup or MVP is the favorite.
Pneumatic devices still have a long way to go. The barrel these balls are shot out from makes the hitting experience much less realistic than we would hope. But, in today’s market, Zooka is the market leader.
Let us put the most apparent feature aside for the moment. That is, let us forget for a second about the price. We will come back to that. First, let us build, virtually, our favorite pitching machine. After much thinking and theorizing, most will come to three conclusions about a pitching machine they would like to own.
If you are doing it wrong, you will spend more money on baseballs and softballs over the life of a pitching machine than on the actual pitching machine. Real leather baseballs are rarely inexpensive. Many pitching machines, especially those with less than three wheels, absolutely tear up the looks of a leather baseball. Don’t expect more than a few months of dependable use from your baseballs and softballs with machines that use less than three wheels—especially if you are throwing a bunch of curveballs.
Many instruction manuals suggest you don’t even use leather baseballs. But instead, the yellow dimple balls will outlast the cockroaches. If we are serious about baseball and softball, the yellow dimple balls don’t react, fly or treat your bat like a genuine leather-covered baseball. A few manufacturers suggest you don’t even use your bat with yellow dimple balls as they are much harder than a traditional baseball and will ruin your bat. Kids taking their top-shelf bat to the local batting cage to hit yellow dimple balls terrifies us.
The best pitching machine will not only pitch real leather baseballs but treat them well enough to last a season or two. One way to accomplish this is more pressure points on the actual pitch. Single and double-wheel machines work by pinching the balls out at excessive spin rates. Our experience is a machine with less than three wheels is much more likely to eat balls up. As such, the best pitching machines have at least three wheels.
Not only is ball durability a severe factor in the number of wheels your pitching machine uses, but it also dramatically affects the ability to throw different types of pitches. Three-wheel machines give you liberty for curves, sliders, knuckles, accurate sliders, and pitch movements.
Some two-wheel machines throw curveballs. But, the adjustment from left to right-handed throws and other off-speed looks are difficult and time-consuming to hone in. Three-wheel machines, where each wheel is independently measured and controlled, make changing pitch types quite simple. In fact, after a few solid hours of use, you’ll find yourself capable of painting corners with a back door slider and dropping a deuce on the plate that starts on the hitter’s hip.
Single wheel machines offer no ability to throw anything but straight balls with an unrealistic backspin. For the same reason, they also struggle to reach decent pitch speeds.
All things are portable if you are strong enough and have a big enough flatbed. But the best pitching machines for the money would be reasonably easy to move. Taking it from the indoor cage to the practice field and back to your backyard, the batting cage is a feature you’ll wish you had if you don’t.
Portability is where many three-wheel machines fall short. They tend to be bulky and much less portable when compared to some single-wheel machines or even pneumatic options. Our pick for the best pitching machine for the money is built with two wheels on the front end that make it, surprisingly, simple to move. If you are weak, don’t expect to get it into your truck bed. But a neighbor or player’s help can get that job done in a matter of seconds.
At 50 feet, a 70 mph fastball creates the same reaction time as a 90-mile-an-hour fastball. Move it up to 45 feet, and you’re now talking about a 100 mph heater. We would expect our best pitching machine to be able to throw severe gas, but it is unlikely we would need it to throw an actual 100 mph. If we want to see a faster pitch, move the machine closer.
Some require an authentic 90+ mph look, but the costs of getting top-end speed never appear worth it. Depending on the make and model, moving from 70mph, max speeds up to 90mph is often a 50% price increase.
Some machines are so rigid or incapable of changing spin rates that using them in the field for a consistent ground ball or fly ball practice is nearly useless. If they are not too bulky to adjust quickly, three-wheel machines can create the correct type of spin on hit balls. Want to throw a tailing right-field drive by a left-handed hitter? Done. A top spinning ding to third? Easy. An MLB-sized pop fly? You got it.
You can save money by buying machines with less power. We like, for example, the Junior Hack Attack. It maxes out at 75mph (we’ve radar gunned it). But, you can always move the machine closer to a backyard ball or full-size fields. Smaller motors will be considerable cost savings.
In terms of priority as you look for your machine, we’d choose:
After those factors and a ton of testing, we think the Junior Hack Attack from Hack Attack sports is the best pitching machine for the money.
Coaches like the Hack Attack’s durability, three-wheel motion for ball control and consistency, and reasonable price point. The machine’s ability to use all baseballs and softballs is a big plus.