With the offseason under way and our attention and focus already turning towards the 2017 season, we thought now would be a good time to look at the best bats for the 2017 season in a few different categories. We’ve tried a plethora of bats this year, single barreled bats, double walled, composite, aluminum, both one and two piece, with balls of various compression. We’ve hit in hot, humid, sticky weather, and we’ve also hit when it was so cold out you could see your breath.
It’s hard to overwhelmingly say one bat is better than another, especially when so much of it comes down to personal preference, but we’ve definitely done our homework and are ready to present you with our pre-season picks for the best bats for the 2017 season. This may change as the season goes on, but here is where we stand for now. Let’s look at our main categories we’ll be declaring our winners in:
BBCOR bats are regulated by the Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution, which measures the amount of energy transferred and lost after the bat makes contact with the ball. In essence, it registers the type of trampoline impact a bat will have on a ball. They are often used in high school and collegiate settings as a way of measuring and monitoring the exit velocity of a batted ball, to make sure that pitchers are protected. BBCOR bats have slightly more pop than a regular wooden bat.
Senior Big Barrel Bats
If you play in a senior big barrel bat league, your league allows bats that have barrels that are larger in diameter than 2 ¼”. These can be aluminum, composite or hybrid, but most of our tests found that full composite bats performed best. They are called senior league bats because the larger barrels will enable seniors to hit the ball a bit more easily.
Youth Big Barrel Bats
Youth big barrel bats are similar to senior big barrel bats, only for children who play in leagues that are a bit younger (under 12 years old). Senior league bats, on the other hand, are for 13-16 year olds. The barrel dimensions and weighting is generally the same and they can be used interchangeably.
Junior Big Barrel Bats
These junior barrel bats are smaller than typical baseball bats and lighter in weight and feel also. They will typically feature a barrel size between 2 ⅝” to 2 ¾”, and can have a drop rating of anywhere from -10 to -12. The construction on junior barrel baseball bats are typically not as good as normal bats, which is why they are solely meant for leagues where coaches pitch to the batter. With pitches coming in at lower speeds, the bats are not as easily dented or damaged.
These days, most major manufacturers will have operations in China or Japan, some in Mexico as well. The cost of shipping leather is much cheaper and the craftsmanship, which used to be second to those hand-made in the USA, is really second to none. All gloves still have to pass the same standards and quality checks regardless if they are manufactured locally or overseas. So you should feel confident in buying a glove from any of the manufacturers on this list, regardless of its country of origin.
Product Reviews - Which Is Right For You?
Here are our top picks in each category for the 2017 Baseball Season:
Best BBCOR Bat: DeMarini CF Zen
The Demarini CF Zen is our winner in the BBCOR category with an incredibly balanced stick that requires absolutely no break-in time as it is hot right out of the wrapper. The new Paraflex composite barrel is insanely powerful and has demonstrated better pop than even last year’s well regarded model. We took this out on 350 ft fences and were blasting shots to all fields.
- Available in sizes between 30 and 34 inches
- Balanced feel, swings very evenly with good weight distribution
- Paraflex composite barrel measures 2 ⅝” and is super hot straight out of the wrapper
- Constructed from 2-piece composite
- D-Fusion 2.0 handle that limits vibration and stinging
- One-year warranty from DeMarini
- Hefty price tag
- Not great in cold weather due to durability concerns
Very balanced bat that swings easy with incredibly bat speed through the strike zone. Great amount of pop in the paraflex barrel that is hot from day one.
Here is our more detail review about BBCOR Bat: http://www.theplanetofbaseball.com/best-bbcor-baseball-bats/
Best Senior Big Barrel Bat: Easton Mako Beast
Incredibly hot and powerful straight out of the wrapper, the Easton Mako Beast improved upon last year’s design and added even more pop to the ultra hot barrel. The TCT Thermo construction creates an incredibly effective trampoline effect and will punish balls that are left in the zone. With a large sweetspot all up and down the barrel, you will have no problem slamming home runs to all fields.
- 2 ⅝” composite barrel made of two-piece construction features the newly revisited TCT Thermo composite barrel
- Dual 2-piece ConneXion technology increases exit speed
- Incredibly thin and comfortable composite handle with hyperskin grip for great touch and feel
- Sanctioned and allowed in PONY, Dixie Youth, AABC and U-trip baseball leagues
- Large sweetspot
- Balanced and level feel when swung
- Took only about 100-200 hits to break in the bat fully
- Lovely crisp sound when you make contact with the ball
- Durability concerns in colder weather
One of the hottest bats we’ve seen in recent years for senior leagues, the Easton Mako continues to impress and outperform competitors.
You can read more detail review about big barrel bat here.
Best Youth Big Barrel Bat: Axe Origin
The Axe Origin L135E is a single-piece alloy constructed bat that has a patented HyperWhip cap that creates a gentle slope to help with balance and bat speed for younger youth players. It may take a bit of getting used to, but it really does help whip the bat through the strike zone, while teaching players to have a proper grip with knuckles aligned and correct palm positioning.
- 2 ¼” alloy barrel with a nicely sized sweet spot for maximum power
- HyperWhip cap helps with weight transfer
- Axe handle promotes proper grip
- Sanctioned and allowable for use in Little League, Dixie Youth, PONY, Babe Ruth, AABC and U-trip baseball
- Nice end-loaded feel that generates maximum whip and bat speed
- Bat does not have much give or flex, can feel stiff for some players expecting more of a two-piece feel
A great bat to learn how to hit with, the Axe Origin has shot up our list after speaking with several coaches who could not recommend it enough. It is incredibly important to teach correct swing mechanics and bat grip from an early age, and the Origin helps coaches accomplish that and much more.
You can read our more detail review about best youth barrel bat here.
Best Junior Big Barrel Bat: Marucci Cat7
Marucci takes the cake in the junior barrel bat category with their Cat7, a high powered stick featuring single-piece aluminum construction that gives a noticeable pop and a clean swing every time. Biggest improvement over last year’s Cat6 is the sweet spot which is now almost twice as big. We took this out for a spin on a sunny July afternoon and were pleasantly surprised at how responsive the bat was.
- Newest AZ4X aluminum is incredibly strong and durable
- Huge sweetspot compared to last year’s version, nearly doubling the size from the Cat6
- Barrel is balanced with precision
- Single-piece aluminum gives a level, balanced swing
- Higher swing speeds from engineered barrel
- Av2 knob reduces vibrations and keeps the bat steady throughout the swing2 ¾” barrel
- Certified for use in U-trip leagues
- Grip feels cheap; we replaced ours with bat grip tape that feels more comfortable
Nice to see Marucci take one away from Easton and DeMarini as the Cat7 is a wonderful junior league bat that has considerable power and performance, all within a massive sweet spot that is hard to miss.
Best Tee-Ball Bat: Easton Speed
Easton wins the award for little tikes with the best tee-ball bat going to the Easton Speed Power Brigade, an aluminum bat with a -13 barrel rating for added power and pop. This one will have your little slugger hitting bombs by the time he’s out of his diapers! Seriously though, a very fun and comfortable bat that offers great performance and one that will ensure your child loves the game.
- 29/32 “ handle made of 100% composite features a comfortable, cushion grip
- Aluminum alloy barrel with a -13 speed rating
- Slick black and neon design
- 2 ¼” barrel widthReasonably priced
- Only one color combination available
- Aluminum bats can be susceptible to dents and flat spots
The Easton Speed is a great little bat for your little boy or girl, and it takes the award for best tee-ball bat for the 2017 season. For an alloy constructed bat, the Speed definitely packs a ton of pop and the ball seemed to fly off the barrel a lot farther than other bats we tested.
Hoping the above list helps you get started on your shopping for the 2017 season, we will hope to revisit our list mid-season and perhaps at the end of the year to see if any new contenders can take the title away from the very best of the best.