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We’ve all seen the posts on the internet claiming which is the best bat in each category. Usually this is referring to performance, which is what most players are concerned about and rightfully so. While everyone is entitled to their own opinion, I’d like to look at this from a different angle.
The truth is that most high end non-wood performance bats today will test near the maximum allowable limit in their category (BBCOR, USSSA, ASA, USA Baseball). If you take a BBCOR Prime 917, CF Zen / Insane, Mako Beast and Rawlings Quatro, run them through the performance cannon (a cannon that shoots balls at specific inch locations of a barrel to measure it’s BBCOR or performance at each spot), my guess is that they will all be fairly close to one another. Below you’ll see an example of a bat analysis that includes performance cannon results.
With that being said, there are still plenty of traits that differentiate each model from the others such as: sound, feel, MOI (swing weight), barrel profile / shape and graphics. Most of these will differ from bat to bat and ultimately come down to player preference. While sound, feel and graphics may fall to the back of the line for some, swing weight and barrel profile should be taken more seriously.
MOI can have a direct impact on a hitter’s swing no matter their age. If your swing is suited for gap shot line drives with a balanced bat, you may be a tick slower on that inside heater if someone sticks an end loaded bat in your hands. As a hitter, if you can handle an end loaded bat, but settle for a lower MOI balanced bat, you may be losing out on some distance when you square one up.
As for barrel profiles, if you have the chance to look at a couple of bats that have the same length / weight, check out where the barrel starts to taper off and become smaller. The max circumference (2 ¼, 2 ⅝, 2 ¾ ) of the barrel on these will always be the same, but any added barrel length will provide more hitting surface area even if it is a small amount.
If possible, do your research to see which bat fits your swing the best. Find a group of 2-4 and start narrowing your list down from there. I know it’s not always feasible to try out every bat before you buy one, but you can reach out to manufacturers to see if they have demo centers in your area. Try local retailers to see if they have any of your targeted bats to hit.
If they don’t, ask them to call their sales rep from whatever manufacturer to set something up. If you put in a little effort I think you’ll be surprised to see what demos can be made available. I also think you’ll be more satisfied with a bat purchase knowing that you had the chance to try some of them out vs buying based on a random review from someone you don’t trust.