Disclaimer: This site uses affiliate links. Learn More.
By Bat Digest | Last Updated November 17, 2022
The CAT 7 sits proudly atop our best drop 5 baseball bats page. As well, it receives some honorable mentions, and so does the CAT 6, in our best baseball bat arena. In other words, although the CAT 7 may not be the right bat for everyone, for the people it is the right bat for the thing is an absolute ball killer.
In the drop 8 space, now that the DeMarini 2 5/8 Zen was made illegal by USSSA, the CAT 7 is one of our favorites.
We’ve been big fans of Marucci’s commitment to smooth feeling sticks with massive power ever since we picked up the CAT 5 Squared from an eBay auction about 6 years ago. The anti-vibration knob does a remarkable job keeping sting off the hands—although maybe not as good a job as some two-piece bats, it’s enough to be noticeable. The CAT series has recreated a wood bat’s power transfer and swinging experience as well, if not better than any bat on the market. This year’s addition of a larger sweet spot and the hybrid will be well received.
Marucci’s 2017 CAT 7 is, without argument, one of the best bats on the market. It runs in a number of sizes, has considerable upgrades from the Marucci CAT 6, and comes in at a more palatable price point than other marquee bats. In 2021 the bat was resurrected as a “silver version” but the bat hasn’t changed since its 2017 inception. This review entails both the 2017 and 2021 versions of the CAT 7.
The 2018 CAT 7 is the same as the 2017 CAT 7, the bats were just carried for two years so a few vendors changed the year on their listing—although the bat never changed.
Generally speaking, those looking for a mid-price range performance bat, who prefer an aluminum barrel, want a true balanced swing weight and can appreciate the feel of a single-piece stick should seriously consider the 2017 Marucci CAT 7. Others who prefer composite, want an ultra-light swing weight, would rather have an oversized barrel, and/or prefer two-piece bats should keep on looking.
We played 12 games with the 2017 Marucci CAT 7 at players’ disposal, and many took us up on the proposal to take the new bat to the plate. We also spent at least 3 hours in the cage hitting with the BBCOR, drop 8, and drop 5 to come up with our 2017 Marucci CAT 7 Review.
The CAT 7 is in a unique class of light swinging single piece aluminum bats with an oversized barrel. The VELO from Rawlings is one similarly designed bat but even it has some exceptions. In particular, the VELO uses an extended composite end cap to drive the weight down. But both bats:
Although unique in its own right, the 2016 Axe Hyperwhip is also similar in the sense of a single-piece aluminum with a tapered wall and a light swing weight. That bat, however, has an asymmetric knob and end cap.
Other bats in the light swinging class are of composite construction and those left in the single-piece aluminum space are at best mid-range swing weight (MOI) bats.
No other bat on the market has the sting dampening mechanism found in the knob like the Marucci CAT 7. (That’s because Marucci owns the patent). So, if the lack of that feature is a deal-breaker, your decision appears made.
On the whole, we surmise the bat belongs with those who prefer the stiff power of a one-piece aluminum bat and its accompanying wood-like experience, but also want a light swinging stick—which is a combination often impossible to find.
The bat also boasts sting dampening on mishits (more on this later) and we’ve found, like the CAT 6 before it, that this is a legitimate claim. In essence, the CAT 7 swings like a light swinging two-piece composite but keeps the integrity of a wood bat feel. The ping is clean and loud and they look immaculate. Durability should be outstanding. The expanded sweet spot over the CAT 6, made possible by some inner barrel tapering, is noticeable and appreciated.
2017 CAT 7 vs 2015 CAT 6
Compared to the 2016 CAT 6 there are a few notable changes. On the top of the list is the expanded usable sweet spot on the CAT 7 made possible by a new tapered barrel design. To be clear, the inside of the barrel is tapered to allow for more pop (flexibility) outside the center of the barrel. The idea isn’t new in the industry but it is new for Marucci who claims the design feature expands the sweet spot by double. It would be impossible for us confirm that metric, but we can confirm the sweet spot is bigger. This larger sweet spot when compared to the CAT 6 makes the CAT 7 a very worthy upgrade.
Additionally, Marucci claims to have retooled and improved the anti-vibration feature of the bat in the knob. From the outside looking in, although painted red, the piece looks similar. Any claimed improvement is only good news. We love this feature since the CAT 5 Squared some 6 years ago. How much improved we won’t be able to tell, but we know the new knob, like the old one, works.
The anti-vibration insert in the knob addresses the age-old ‘numb thumb’ problem for which single-piece aluminum bats are infamous. That is, the vibration created from a mishit on a traditional single-piece aluminum bat actually travels unimpeded from your barrel directly into your hands and then up your arms to your mouth where curse words are forced to form. It’s true. We’ve verified that many times.
The anti-vibration feature in the CAT 7 addresses this. It is a piece of composite rubber that sits inside the bottom of the handle and knob and helps absorb much of that vibration so as not to reverberate all the way to your mouth. Other companies have addressed this problem by creating two-piece bats with sting dampeners built within the transition. But, the argument goes, that two-piece bats disregard the value a real hitter gains from a bat with accurate feel and stiffness to the ball. Marucci would claim the CAT 7 and its predecessors keep the integrity of the swing while diminishing the vibrating consequences. Their argument is legit.
Like the CAT 6, the CAT 7 uses the same tacky and cushy grey grip, and from a color standpoint, not much has changed but some highlights here and there. The end cap is the same.
If you don’t live where there are hurricanes, the CAT name may not ring a bell. Those who do will recognize the CAT is in reference to hurricane categorizations. A Category 5 hurricane, for example, is the highest-rated, most damaging hurricane. Winds are rated at more than 200mph. A CAT 7 is reserved only for the movies. Or, in this case, the ball field.
If we’re being frank, we think the drop 10 loses too much weight to keep the same smooth feel as the drop 8 and drop 10. The loss of the extra mass really removes a lot of the confidence players have in the drop 8 and drop 5. However, those with slower swing speed that saw slower pitch speeds still really liked the drop 10. But, once pitch and swing speeds got faster the CAT 7 Drop 10 lost its appeal. We would suggest most serious players stay with the light swinging drop 8 if they can swing it.
The overall rating uses seven different weighted metrics to determine our overall score. Half of total rating comes from the player and our exit speed tests (Player Rating: 25%, Performance: 25%).The other categories are Relevance (20%), Demand (10%), Durability (10%), Resell Score (5%), and Tech Specs (5%).
*: When a bat is denoted by a star (*) it is a preliminary rating. Expect it to be updated as we learn more about the bat and gather more data.
(PlaRa) Player Rating: We measure player rating from user reviews. Those users include our own hitters that we test at the lab as well as reviews we find online.
(ExVe) Performance: Performance measures the exit speeds and distances we capture in our hitting lab with HitTrax using these bats.
(Relv) Relevance: We measure the number of sizes and the MOI of the bat. Bats with a wider range of options get a better score.
(Dmnd) Demand: Demand is measured by consumer sentiment and the buzz around the bat.
(Drb) Durability: A bat’s durability is measured by user reviews as well as feedback from manufacturers.
(ReSl) Resell Score: Based on the price the bats go for used. Higher prices mean greater user demand which means, generally, a better bat. A resell value closer to its original price means a higher score.
(Tech) Tech Specs: We rate the bat on its technological advancements from previous years and compared to the industry at large. This is our chance to reward companies who are trying to innovate.
MOI or Mass Moment of Inertia is a measurement of bat swing weight. This quantifies how difficult it is to swing a bat. The industry often refers to this as things like End Load or Balanced but those words have been overused to the point of meaninglessness. We measure the actual swing weights of each bat we test using the industry-standard pendulum period, balance point, and scale weight. You can read more about that here.
The price is the original MSRP price of the bat.
The types of bats are single-piece alloy (SPA), two-piece composite (TPC), single-piece composite (SPC), hybrid (Hyb.), and wood (Wood). Hybrid bats are made of composite handles and alloy barrles.
The estimated date the bat began distribution.