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As you know, starting in 2018, USABat bat standards are required in several leagues. This standard replaces the 1.15 BPF 2 1/4 youth barrel bat. The new USABat standard dampens the pop of bats to perform more like BBCOR. However, barrels on USABats will be allowed a wider diameter (up from 2 1/4 to 2 5/8). This change, as well as the age change in Little League, creates the biggest bat adjustment in amateur baseball ever.
You can sort every little league approved bat by popularity, brand and user rating. These are 2018 USABats. Looking for advice on how to find the best USA Bat??
The answer depends on what league you play in. Only some leagues are adopting the new standard and you’ll need to find out from them. Little League, Cal Ripken, PONY and a few other bat leagues are following the new standard. USSSA and a lot of national travel ball leagues are staying with the 1.15 BPF big barrel bat standard from year’s past.
Several have wondered what leagues are effected by USABats. The chart below helps to clear up much of those problems. Leagues affiliated with Little League are more than likely going to the new USABat standard. That includes places like Cal Ripken, Babe Ruth and Dixie Youth or Pony. Other leagues, like USSSA Baseball and major travel ball leagues are tending to stay with the USSSA 1.15 BPF stamped bats.
In short, it depends.
You will not need to buy a USAbat if you…
Are at least 12 years old at the moment (2016)*
Don’t play in the leagues whose national affiliate requires AND the local league enforces the new standard.
It is possible you will never be in a league where USAbats are required. The standard will be implemented while you may be going into 14 year old baseball (2018) and most 14 year old baseball is BBCOR. BBCOR is not being replaced by USAbats.
The National Affiliations are: American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball, Dixie Youth Baseball, Little League Baseball and PONY Baseball.
It is possible many local leagues will not enforce the bat rules until a later date than January 2018. This will give many of those BPF 1.15 bats a chance to live their useful life.
You will need to buy a USAbat if you…
Are still young enough to play in the Little League World Series for 2018
Play in a league that is affiliated with a USABats national association AND the local league enforces the rules on day one.
NOTE: Many local leagues have a lot of liberty in terms of what rules they enforce. If you want to play in the national or state tournaments sponsored by these associations, then you will need the new USAbat starting 1/1/2018.
Compared to previous year’s BPF 1.15 youth Little League bats (also known as skinny barrels), the USA Bats will have less pop.
However, compared to BBCOR and wood bats USA Bats have at least as much trampoline effect.
Single piece wood bats are legal in USA bat leagues. However, those made of multiple pieces of wood (often called composite wood bats) are not automatically legal and will need the USA Bat stamp. As well, Bamboo is not considered a wood bat (as it is grass) and is therefore not legal.
See our full article on wood usa bats.
Pop are power can be a relative experience depending on the type of hitter. And the discussion about the best USA Baseball bat is a long one with a lot of factors to consider including price, size, league and so on. We discuss all these factors in our best usa baseball bats article.
The argument, pushed by wood bat companies and wood bat reps, is that the restrictions put on USA Bats make them so similar to wood that they should just buy a wood bat instead. (We cover much of this answer in our USA vs Wood article).
Under nearly any circumstance we think this a mistake. Barrel size, swing weight and durability are just a few serious factors that benefit composite and alloy bats. It would be a rare situation where a USA Bat player would do better, or even as good, with a wood bat.
We do like the idea, and encourage our players, to have wood bats in their bag for BP and winter workouts as well as the occasional at bat that means less. But, serious players in serious leagues will rightfully be using composite and aluminum wood bats, for much the same reasons elite college players still use aluminum and composite BBCOR bats, in their USA Bat leagues.
We spend an entire article discussing the best cheap USA Bats.