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We’ve reviewed bats here since 2014 and we’ve seen a lot of innovation (and reprinting) in the bat space. From spinning handles, soft barrels, and bats filled with helium—all have tried to convince parents that their player’s bats are worth the premium. Another significant innovation in the last several years is custom bat design. DeMarini/Slugger lead the way here.
If you are of the opinion that all BBCOR bats (and USA and USSSA) are created equal, then what else is there to pay a premium for but the swagged design?
There are plenty of reasons to NOT customize your bat. For starters, it’s expensive. Secondly, bats break. Other kids grow out of bats rather quickly. Finally, what doesn’t say pretentious coaches kid more than a bat 10x more expensive than its eBay counterpart? (We kid, sort of).
The fact is, Pro players have custom bats. Basically every single one of them.
But many don’t care, live once, and have the money to burn. So, here are four reasons we came up with to justify you dropping an extra hundred or so on your next top-end bat.
(Not sure what bat to get? Try this BBCOR guide).
Although in years past the custom versions of the bat came out AFTER the release of the bats. These days you get special and early access to the latest and greatest through the custom sites. That is if you want the next year’s model before everyone else then you can buy it directly on the custom site. Based on how it went this past season, the bat’s were available on the custom site a full month before they were available in their stock version on any vendor’s site.
You can match your bat up with your particular team’s colors. NCAA teams do this all the time and you can find their custom-colored bats all over DeMarini’s Instagram page.
Of course, you can also dial in your bat colorway to match your favorite player or team. We’ve seen a few MJ or LeBron-inspired bats on eBay. You can also make an ode to the greats. We’re sure a Babe Ruth inspired Yankees custom is pretty common through the DeMarini custom shop.
Custom Bats are a legit flex. They’re cool, look great, show some swag and make a lot of folks feel good. And, if you’re going to spend money, shouldn’t it also make you feel good?
There’s nothing wrong with looking good. There’s nothing wrong with feeling good. The truth is, as much as bat companies try and steer us into thinking something else, there is something refreshing about a company pushing the envelope with design instead of suggesting their bats somehow perform better than the rest. The truth is, most bats in the BBCOR, USA, USSSA and fastpitch space all perform the same. The only difference is the look and the confidence that comes with feeling good. As any hitter knows, feeling good is the basis for being a great hitter.
So, if you have the cash and are convinced the best-looking bat on the field will drive the most confidence at the plate, then why not?
We do try and check our hyperbole at the door here at batdigest.com, yet we are actually quite comfortable in saying the custom DeMarini bat approach is the single most innovative thing we’ve seen in the space since we’ve been following it. Hats off, for sure, to those companies trying to improve the performance of top-shelf bats (and DeMarini also falls into that category) but the attempt to let players customize their bats—and a full selection of them in the CF8 and Voodoo Raw—is the only innovation this year we predict will shape the space for the years to come.
In one fell swoop, DeMarini changed the approach of top-shelf performance bats forevermore. They shouldn’t, and I don’t believe will, use the predictable success of these custom bats to hamper their research and development, but that doesn’t mean they didn’t fill a now obvious void in the market that players around the country will be fist-bumping about for years to come.