Baseball: Guide to BBCOR Bats
Eastbay Cleated Copywriter, T. Scharfenberg | Date Updated on: 12-19-12
There are an endless number of baseball bats on the market, but alloy and composite bats each have their own set of distinct qualities. Let us tell you what's in them, and how to pick the one that's right for you.
When buying a baseball bat, the most important thing is how it feels in your hands. What is most comfortable to swing? And what is allowed for play in your specific league? Remember that if you're playing in high school and college, you've got to find a bat that's legal by BBCOR rules as well. There's a list of acceptable bats at the bottom of this article, or you can read up on our guide to the BBCOR restrictions.
About Alloy Grades
An alloy's grade matters because a manufacturer's ability to thin the bat barrel walls depends on the alloy. This is the main reason for the wide variety of price in the baseball bats on the market. A basic alloy is on the softer side, as far as these metals go. This means thicker barrel walls are required to keep your bat durable and dent-resistant.
A higher-grade, performance alloy is stronger, so the walls can be made thinner. These thin walls mean a lot less weight, more trampoline effect and therefore more power from the rebound off the bat. A barrel with double walls will add extra durability and power to a performance alloy bat. But either way, these types of alloys will give your bat a larger sweet spot and you should feel more "pop" on hits.
Alloy vs. Composite
Alloy bats are made of a combination of different types of aluminums, depending on manufacturers specifications. Composite bats are a mix of materials, again varying between the producers of bats. Most composite bats include elements like carbon, fiberglass and graphite. Composite bats are fine-tuned for performance so they tend to cost around 25% more than alloy bats.
Composite bats are known for their performance but they have also been known to lack long-term durability, especially if you're playing in colder weather. If you chose a high-quality Scandium alloy, you're almost guaranteed that it will resist breakage better than composite materials do. If a bat alloy is labeled Scandium, you can be assured it is of high quality.
Composite bats also tend to require more break-in time than aluminum bats. It will require 100-200 hits at 40 mph or more to effectively break in your composite bat. Aluminum bats go through long periods of testing. It doesn't mean they can't still crack, but it does mean that they are ready to go, usually at top performance, as soon as you unwrap the bat.
Unlike alloy, composite bats have a metal rod inside the bat to increase the weight to an acceptable level. These techniques allow the swing weight to be more easily controlled, and even with this rod, composite bats are still the lightest on the market. Distributing the weight more toward the handle of a composite bat can make it easier for players to generate bat speed. Since alloy doesn't have the same internal makings, the entire bat is made lighter to have the same effect on your bat speed. Lastly, alloy bats may have less "pop" than composites do, but they can hold this "pop" longer over the time you use the bat.
The way materials are weaved in composite bats can be altered to specific performance desires. Bat makers can create the optimal barrel flex while keeping the handle stiffer. The woven graphite on the inside makes a composite bat a little stiffer than an alloy model. This is why composite bats are believed to be the better performers. Composite bats do have the advantage with trampoline effect and studies have shown that ball speed off a composite is faster than off an alloy.
The lightness of composite allows you to get it around quicker than alloy bats, which can be important with high pitch speeds. Both of these bat styles have the same aluminum exterior, but the internal graphite in a composite bat makes a difference in batted ball speed. For this reason, composite bats have been banned from college leagues, as well as some high school leagues. The increased hitting potential has become a safety concern, so be sure to check the rules for your specific league. However, as new BBCOR bats are developed, composite is expected to play a greater role. If you're concerned about finding a bat that is legal in your league, you can use Eastbay's Bat Finder.
Generally, players look for the lightest bat they can afford. Lighter bats means higher quality metals with thinner walls, as we mentioned before. Keep your body type in mind, though. If you're a smaller, lighter athlete these lighter bats will help get the bat around quicker. A longer bat may cover more area, but the extra weight could slow down your swing and sacrifice your form. If you are a bigger, stronger player, you can consider a heavier bat. If you are able to get it around, you can use it to your advantage and maximize your power.
Alloys and Composites by Brand
Every manufacturer has their own special name for their alloy or composite combinations. Since names and alloy numbers don't provide much information, here's a quick description of some of the best alloys available. Use this to pick out the metal with the main benefit that will help you most at the plate.
- SC4 Alloy: DeMarini touts this alloy as being 12% stronger than the rest. It's used in several of their BBCOR bats, including a player-favorite, the Voodoo.
- TR3 Composite: TR3 uses random fusing of carbon fibers to create a carbon that is more compact, stronger, and lighter.
- IMX Composite: IMX is strengthened with matrix structures for a design that maximizes performance through advanced materials and processes.
- ST+20: Found in their Omaha bats, this is considered one of your best options for alloy. It's one of the strongest out there, an incredibly high-quality choice.
- LS-2X Composite: Thinner graphite fibers are used in LS-2X to provide a great stregth-to-weight ratio with increased durability.
- AC21 Alloy: Louisville Slugger often combines this alloy with composite to ensure thin walls that don't shorten your bat's lifespan.
- AZ3000 Alloy: The main goal for AZ3000 is performance. It's an ultra-responsive choice, good if you're not incredibly accurate at the plate.
- T3000 Alloy: This one is bringing consistent performance thanks to its thinner walls and bigger sweet spot.
- MEC Alloy: An acronym for Max Energy Collision, this alloy is designed to repeatedly handle high pitch speeds and power-focused hitting.
- 5150 Alloy: Well known among players who love its consistently balanced feel, the 5150 is weighted in a smaller region of the barrel for a lower swing weight.
- R1 Alloy: As RIP-IT's most responsive alloy, this is a huge performance increase with more than twice the strength and elasticity as before.
Now take a look through this year's list of BBCOR Bats. Your choice depends on whether you're leaning toward alloy or composite, and which alloy sounds like it'll help you're game. You can find all of these baseball bats at Eastbay.
|2013 BBCOR Certified Baseball Bats|
|Bat Model||Barrel Material||Handle Material|
|DeMarini CF5||TR3 Composite||TR3 Composite|
|DeMarini Versus||SC4 Alloy||SC4 Alloy|
|DeMarini Vexxum||SC4 Alloy||C6 Composite|
|DeMarini Voodoo||SC4 Alloy||TR3 composite|
|Easton S1||IMX Composite||Composite|
|Easton XL1||IMX Composite||Composite|
|Louisville Slugger Exogrid 3||LS-2X Composite/AC21 Alloy||Composite Hybrid|
|Louisville Slugger Omaha||ST+20 Aluminum Alloy||Alloy|
|Marucci Black 2||AZ3000 Alloy||Alloy|
|Marucci Team||AZ3000 Alloye||Alloy|
|Miken RZR SHOK||T3000 Alloy||Alloy|
|Nike Show III||MEC Alloy||Alloy|
|Rawlings 5150||5150 Alloy||5150 Alloy|
|Rawlings Velo||5150 Alloy||5150 Alloy|
|RIP-IT Prototype||R1 Alloy||R1 Alloy|
|RIP-IT Prototype AIR||R1 Alloy||R1 Alloy|