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August 25, 2020 | by Brian Duryea | @BatDigest
We used HitTrax to compare the 2021 Louisville Slugger Meta vs 2020 Louisville Slugger Meta
Although they sound different, the performance on the 2021 Meta is the same as the 2020 Meta. We’ve proved this a few times now on exit speeds. However, most don’t believe it is the same—and think the blue (2020) is better than the 2021. We have yet to be able to confirm that suspicion in any head to head test. We suggest, to those who think they are different in performance, they’ve yet to get actual exit speeds.
We had two hitters hit each Meta over 100 times. They alternated bats every five to ten swings. We found the average exit velocity to be within 0.2 mph of each other. That’s a remarkable and close comparison. Claiming one bat is better than another in its performance is not accurate.
NOTE: We’ve measured thousands of bats over the years. We’ve found, in large measure, bat results are very hitter dependent. Most comparisons we do are very, very close. The 1 or 2 mile per hour difference is hard to attribute only to the barrels performance. We think the hitter determines upwards of 70% of the exit speeds. The other 30% is the bat.
The biggest measurable difference, although still very small, is max exit velocity. Just shy of 250 hits per bat, the max exit velocity for the 2020 was 86.2; the 2020 had 85.1
Assuming those represent the actual maximum exit speeds for these hitters on these bats, a 0.9 mph difference is upwards of five feet of difference. Most hits the difference is all but negligible. That’s nothing too impressive. Most plays with either bat would have the exact same result.
However, two or three times a season, the extra five feet could be all the difference.
For some reason, one that is not readily apparent to us, the 2020 hit more line drives to the tune of +20%. We aren’t sure why that might be the case. But, line-drive percentages may have nothing to do with the effectiveness of the bat but the efficacy of the hitter.
In any event, we reported the stat because it was the single metric with the most significant discrepancy.
The players like the feel of either the 2020 or 2021 Meta. However, they categorically preferred the feel of the 2020 over the 2021. Interestingly, as we talk about in our review, the 2021 connection piece has not changed at all. However, Slugger did change the insides of the barrel on the 2021. Those changes give the barrel a different sound. We suppose the hitters noticed that sound different and preferred the 2020.