Have you ever wondered what the secret is to a young child being a truly great hitter?
Often times, the secret is in the bat that they use! Often times, the best “youth” hitters are using the best youth baseball bats.
When you arrive at the store, you have to understand the difference between baseball bat brands, lengths, weights, and materials. It can be overwhelming to say the least.
So, where do you begin? Let’s start by looking at how one youth bat can be different from another.
The 2017 Guide to the Best Youth Baseball Bats
The best youth baseball bat for any young player to use is going to be the bat that he or she is most comfortable with.
So, we start with weight and length. A tall hitter needs a longer bat. A stronger hitter can handle a heavier bat.
The best way to measure this is to find a chart online. A good practice is to set the head of a bat on the ground; the knob of the handle should easily rest in the batter’s palm.
A bat’s weight is often compared to its length. This is done by subtracting the weight (in ounces) of the bat from the length (in inches).
So, a bat that is 27 inches long and weighs 15 ounces would be considered a “-12” bat.
Most leagues regulate this to ensure that safety standards and require a bat to between -7 and -13.5. The larger the difference (called “drop”) also correlates to higher bat speed.
Next, you must consider what type of bat you are using. Most youth leagues require a metal bat, which can come as a “one-piece” or “two-piece” bat. That is, a one-piece bat is made of one type of metal.
The barrel and the handle are made from the same piece; there is no separation between the two. This is a bat that stronger hitters often use because there is no give to the bat.
A two piece bat is one that has two types of metal- one metal makes the barrel of the bat, and the other makes the handle of the bat. Then, the manufacturer bonds the two pieces together.
This bat is slightly more flexible which makes it more favorable to hitters with less power. The flex action helps create power and reduce vibration in the hands.
A two-piece bat can also come in multiple forms. The barrel of a two-piece bat can be made of one type of metal, or it can be made from composite materials which offer a larger “sweet spot” for the hitter.
The larger sweet spot means more power for a hitter. This means that a two-piece composite bat offers the most additional power.
Finally, there are wooden bats, which are quite similar to their metallic counterparts. There are both one-piece and two-piece wooden bats.
The key difference is that most youth leagues won’t allow composite wood bats for safety reasons. The style of bat that you choose relies heavily on the style that your baseball player uses.
A final consideration in purchasing a bat is to look at your hitter’s style. Does your baseball player stand close to the plate, or does he or she stand away from the plate and look to extend when swinging? Does your baseball player prefer inside pitches or outside pitches?
This is important when looking at the “taper” of a bat. The taper is how quickly the barrel shrinks into the handle. A sharp or “ultra-thin” taper is most useful to a hitter who likes to extend when swinging.
Now that we know the key differences between bats, it’s time to look at what you’re shopping for. Do you want a great value or are you willing to spend top dollar?
There is a pretty significant price range. A tee-ball bat can be as little as $20. From there, you can find bats that range from about $49.99 to well over $300.
The most popular youth baseball bat brands in today’s game are DeMarini, Easton, and Marucci.
Let’s take a look at some of the best youth baseball bats from each manufacturer.
In 1993, DeMarini bats revolutionized the industry, creating the first “double-walled” baseball bats. The focus of the DeMarini bats is to offer a large sweet spot for increased power.
That large sweet spot makes them some of the best youth bats that you’ll find.
DeMarini CF6 Youth Baseball Bat
I’m really impressed by the power this bat provides! By drop standards, it is a heavier youth bat (-8), which means that it is best suited for players who have already developed some power.
This bat completely eliminates vibration when hitting, which allows for a smoother swing. The DeMarini offers a well-balanced bat.
This bat even provides a painted numbering system to help players to remember to rotate the bat. This is helpful in extending the life of the bat.
The only downfall to this bat is that it is a “full-composite” bat which some leagues will not allow. The composite material increases power so much that some leagues deem it unsafe.
DeMarini CF6 Youth Bat (-11)
I’ve also heard from some hitters that the grip on this bat can start to blister your hands if you don’t wear batting gloves.
This bat is still a reasonable deal, but slightly on the higher end of the spectrum.
DeMarini Voodoo Overlord Youth Baseball Bat
This bat is designed with the player in mind. It’s created to fit a batter’s grip perfectly. It is commonly a -13 bat, which makes it just about middle of the pack in terms of the drop.
I’ve found that this bat offers solid pop, but isn’t quite the CF6.
DeMarini Voodoo Overlord Youth Bat (-13)
Like the CF6, this is a different type of composite which means that some leagues won’t allow this bat.
As always, you should consult the rules for the league your player will be joining.
DeMarini CF7 Youth Baseball Bat Review
If you’re impressed by the CF6, you should see the 2015 model. The bat is most commonly offered as a -11 bat.
It’s a high quality; power bat that many players have told me is hot out of the wrapper. The bat is well-balanced, offering something for every player.
What I was impressed with is how soft the bat is one a hitter’s hands. That is, every player that I’ve spoken to has said that they feel almost zero vibration when hitting.
Even if they’re jammed there is, essentially, no vibration. Players have told me that the bat feels light in their hands.
I can see a different with our contact hitters – they definitely seem to gain bat speed when using the CF7.
The primary complaint that I’ve heard from players or parents is that the grip isn’t great. It can be tough on your hands, so you may want to replace the grip tape. I’ve also heard a number of people complain about the weight of that bat.
That is, while most bats are close to the advertised weight (after adding stickers and labels), this bat can be as much as 2 to 3 ounces heavier than advertised.
That can be a pretty significant issue, so I would definitely recommend picking this up in the store and letting your youth try it out before purchasing it.
Easton is by far the most popular company in today’s market. They’ve been making aluminum bats since 1969.
Easton was the first company to start making aluminum bats, and they’ve held the market since.
Easton S500 Youth Baseball Bat
The Easton S500 consistently gets great reviews from its users. Its weight (usually a -13) and material (aircraft alloy) means it is designed to increase bat speed.
A higher bat speed mixed with the fact that the S500 is a one-piece bat means it is best for power hitters.
It offers a very sharp taper which means it is best for hitting an outside pitch, but may not be the best suited for inside pitches.
As for specifications, it meets the required specs for all of the major youth baseball associations.
The bat offers a good deal of “pop”. It also offers durability, and is typically sold with a 1 year warranty.
Easton Mako Youth Baseball Bat Review
If you’re willing to pay for a premium, this may be the way to go. The Mako series offers composite technology which increases power performance by making the “sweet spot” larger.
Because this bat is a “two-piece” it decreases vibration in the batter’s hands and makes for a more comfortable swing.
The handle itself is thin, but the taper is reasonable and allows for a natural swing on, both, inside and outside pitches.
The flex technology used in a composite bat will allow hitters to take full advantage of the power they have.
The weight and size of this bat are well within standards for all major youth baseball leagues.
Easton XL3 Youth Baseball Bat
Easton continues to impress with their broad lines of youth bats. The XL3 is great in that it offers great pop and a sleek design. It’s also priced very well.
The XL3 is the perfect answer for a player hoping to get a premium bat without paying a premium price.
Easton created this bat with a power hitter in mind. The barrel is extremely thin at 29/32 of an inch. The theory is, the smaller handle allows for increased bat speed.
The Hyperlite Matrix Alloy is designed to increase the size of the sweet spot. Easton has also made this bat end loaded which should help the hitter move the bat through the hitting zone.
Some players have told me that there is an issue with the bat has a lot of vibration. That’s expected to be the case when the handle is so small.
Marucci is an incredibly interesting company – the founder decided to build a bat for his son when he was 8 years old. Jack Marucci started making wood bats, and has transitioned into professionally making bats.
Rather than sponsoring players, Marucci invites them to be a part of their Advisory Board; which includes David Ortiz, Albert Pujols, Jose Bautista and, even young stars like Kris Bryant.
Marucci AP5 Pro Wood Baseball Bat
This bat offers the first look at wooden bats. This bat is made of maple to ensure high durability. It can last to the highest amount of use.
It has a hardened finish to increase power off of contact. The bat offers a -3 drop rating, which means it is best for an older player who has developed power already.
Players tell me this is a great bat, but that you need some experience with wooden bats to take proper care of it.
It offers longer life than most bats, and can provide good power. The maple finish allows it to stand up better than most.
Marucci CU26 Youth Pro Wood Baseball Bat
In all of the conversations I’ve had with wood bat enthusiasts, the CU26 gets the best reviews.
This bat isn’t designed for power hitter, that’s what the AP5 is for. However, this is a great all around wooden bat.
This bat has a maple finish which ensures hardness and increases power. The bat is nothing special to look at, but seems to offer great “pop” for hitters. All of Marucci’s bats are hand crafted with precision.
The handle for this bat appears to be thinner than the AP5 which may be the reason that it can’t handle power hitting as well.
The only complain I’ve heard is that the bat scratches a bit too easily. The bat is meant to hit well, not just look pretty. When cosmetic problems are the biggest problems to be found, I’m sold.
The price is also a, fairly, reasonable. Compared to most of the other bats in this review, that’s a great value.
Lousiville has an interesting story that creates their legacy. Legend has it that young Bud Hellirich was a big baseball fan.
He slipped away from his father’s wood-working business to watch a baseball game. He saw that town’s all-star mired in a slump, and the player broke his bat.
Bud jumped on the opportunity to bring his father’s company into the baseball game. Bud took the player (Pete Browning) back to the shop, and made a bat himself.
It took a few years after that, but Bud continually has players come to the shop, asking for bats.
After years of working with ball players, Bud took over the family company, focused the woodshop on baseball bats, and patented the name “Lousiville Slugger”.
Louisville boats sales of over 100,000,000 bats in their company’s existence (122 years since being labelled “Louisville”). They also claim that they have a 60% share of MLB bats.
Doing some research, that isn’t entirely accurate. One site analyzed that bat of 76 MLB players and found that Louisville was used by about 18.5%.
They further analyzed the all-star game form 2012-2015 and found that Lousiville makes up 26.5% of bats used in the All-Star game.
26.5% of the All-Star bats is a pretty convincing statistic. It’s safe to bet that the best players prefer the best bats, so if more than one out of four all-stars use Louisville, they’re high quality.
If they make the best professional bats, they probably make the best youth bats as well.
Louisville Slugger Prime 916 Youth Bat
First and foremost, I absolutely love the design of this bat. It’s probably most attractive bat on the list. The design is flashy and the grip looks great, but it Louisville still offers a solid product.
The FCS technology offers better power transfer as it uses a three-piece technology (TRU3). Louisville’s TRU3 technology offers more of a barrel flex.
For those of you that follow the physics of the bat, more flex means more of a trampoline effect. That means the ball is going to fly faster with the same swing speed.
The use of a carbon structure also allows for a light bat. That means that your player will be able to increase swing speed. Increased swing speed means increased power.
That’s what really impresses me with this bat; a contact hitter can become a power hitter when using the new technology that Louisville has provided in this bat.
The Fused Carbon material essentially kills the vibration that a hitter will feel in this bat. When you add that to the Lizard Tape that is used on the grip, a hitter should have no issues with feeling any vibrations when they mishit the ball.
The Lizard Tape seems to be a bit thicker than what most bats offer. I would imagine this creates more of a cushion in the batters hands.
What I find really impressive is that it seems that Louisville increase the barrel size this year without losing any of its league qualifications.
That is, they’ve made this bat easier to use because there is more barrel to hit with, but they still qualify in every league that they were eligible for last year.
That’s the easiest way to improve the quality of your bat!
Louisville Slugger Omaha 516 Youth Bat
The Omaha is a great bat that Louisville has improved on in 2016. They lengthened the barrel, and developed a new alloy.
The Omaha is one of the best youth baseball bats and has made many appearances in the Little League World Series.
The Omaha comes in a variety of weights; the lightest being -13 which a larger drop than a lot of companies will offer.
The bat looks great and most players that I’ve talked to say that they really like the feel of the bat when they’re at the plate.
Depending on what you’re looking for, this bat may not be for you. I’ve talked to a few players who have said that the barrel has started to chip after a few weeks.
As a player, I never cared what the bat looked like as long as the performance didn’t drop.
If you or your youth player is focused on keeping the bat in pristine condition, you may not want to purchase this bat.
Overall, I’m impressed by the Omaha 516. It offers the perfect combination of price and practicality.
Players are, generally, satisfied with every aspect of the bat and parents are genuinely satisfied with the price tag. That’s rare to find in a bat these days.
Louisville Slugger Catalyst Youth Baseball Bat
Louisville is a smart company. They know that the easiest way to attract the attention of a youth baseball player is to make the design of a bat “catchy”. They’ve done that with the Catalyst.
Its bright colors and modern look will have every young child at least walking over to the Catalyst display on the shelf.
After the youth picks the bat up, the parent will like the sticker. It’s a nice “value” bat.
I’ve heard a lot of great things about the bat as a whole, but what parent doesn’t want a good bat without a ridiculous price tag?
The Catalyst isn’t the eye-popping bat that some of the others on this list are, but it is a solid all-around bat.
The Catalyst is light weight and well-balanced. That’s the best way to describe this bat- it’s above average at everything.
It’s not going to last 4 years, but it has good durability. It’s not going to make someone suddenly become a homerun hitter, but it could make an average player consistently hit doubles.
Some players complain that the barrel is a little thinner than they’d like. However, each player who has offered that complain says they would still be willing to use the bat.
I’ve actually talked to a few parents who wouldn’t buy the bat because it was “too cheap”. They said they didn’t trust a bat that was priced as if it were elite.
I find a small barrel to be a great training tool. If you can hit with a thinner barrel, you’ll be able to dominate when you use a larger barrel.
That being said, I understand not paying the price it costs for the Catalyst to use it as a practice bat.
Combat is an interesting company that specializes in composite bats. They’ve come a long way since being established in 2004.
In fact, they’ve done so well with their composite material, that they were recently purchased by a Canadian company who wanted to use composite materials in hockey sticks.
They’ve done a great job, and specialize in composite materials that allow a player to hit the ball at maximum distance.
However, they have an incredibly difficult battle given that some youth leagues are banning composite materials.
That means that they’re being eliminated from the market before ever having a chance to prove their product.
Combat Maxum Youth Baseball Bat
The Combat Maxum is one of those bats that has great reviews but comes with a huge price tag.
I’ve never been a fan of paying top money for a youth bat, but this one may be worth it if you’re willing to do so.
One of the key facts that would make me consider purchasing this bat is that it comes with a 500 day (15 ½ months) guarantee.
That means that if your bat breaks at the beginning of season number two, they’ll replace it. That’s unheard of!
This is a fully composite bat that is made in one piece, which I believe is the reason that Combat is willing to offer such a great warranty.
The bat is well-balanced because of the specialized technique used to make it composite.
Rather than overlapping materials to create several layers (inner/outer walls), Combat injects a specialized resin into the layers.
This makes a significant difference in that the bat is one large layer rather than several thinner layers.
The bat has great Lizard Skin grips that are intended to be thicker and offer a softer handle which makes the grip gentler on a batter’s hands.
While being soft on the hands, the bat is tough on the pitcher. The Maxum has a huge sweet spot that directly translates to power.
That may be the reason that the Combat seems to be one of the best and most popular bats.
Some players have told me that they don’t feel that the durability of this bat isn’t quite what other Combat models are, but that comes with new technology.
I’m a fan of the bat, but the price tag is a bit high for my liking.
Combat Vigor Baseball Bat Review
The Vigor is a sleek looking bat that is as easy on the eyes as it is on the hitter. With an ultra-premium grip, the Vigor is soft in a hitter’s hands.
Combat took extra time creating a higher-than-usual barrel compression ratio which increases hitting distance.
If you didn’t know, the USSSA has created a maximum Bat Performance Factor (BPF) of 1.15. Without going into too much detail, a 1.15 BPF makes an aluminum bat safer for youth to use (the ball doesn’t come off the bat too fast), but allows for some pop, similar to a wooden bat, when hit well. Combat has maximized the quality of the bat, weighing in at exactly 1.15.
Combat maximizes results without overcharging the customer. Combat has created a great mix of quality and price.
In talking to families and, specifically, hitters who have used this bat, I hear that it feels a little lighter than it actually is.
In watching players use this bat, it appears that Combat has done a great job of keeping the bat well-balanced.
Combat Portent G4 Youth Baseball Bat
The Portent is a great bat despite not being as popular as some of the other top rated youth baseball bats that we’ve discussed.
Combat boasts that their Precision Molding technology makes their entire series of bats have the biggest sweet spot in the game.
I’m not sure if that’s true for all of their bats, but the Portent seems to have an enormous sweet spot.
The single wall construction and one-piece design help the hitter feel feedback. That is, the Portent is specifically designed to help the hitter improve on a pitch-by-pitch basis.
The best part of this bat may actually be its price tag. Players tell me the bat feels balanced in their hands and, from what I’ve seen, the feedback only makes hitters better.
Rip-It was founded in 2003 and thought that a multi-experienced team would offer the best product. Rip-it specializes in the fast-pitch game.
They’re still a small company, but they offer some of the best youth bats in the game.
Rip-It Air B1512 Youth Baseball Bat Review
Rip-It isn’t a widely known brand, but I’ve spoken with a few players who swear by this bat. The B1512 is focused on bat speed. They use R3 alloy which is supposed to improve bat speed and control.
This is due to something called the Moment of Inertia (MOI) which is a measurement of where the bat’s weight is placed.
Because it’s more balanced (and leans a bit towards having weight closer to the barrel) your swing should be significantly higher.
Rip-it also offers a high-end grip that is intended to reduce vibration in the bat when you mishit the ball. Most players tell me that they really like the feel of the bat while swinging.
They tell me that they’re able to attack pitches without any fear of vibration on a bad hit.
Many people are afraid to try a new brand, and I understand that entirely. What should make you feel better is the fact that Rip-it offers a 400 day warranty on their bat.
That means you’ve got 15 months before you’re “out of your money” if the bat breaks. I’d venture to say that at the price tag Rip-It has, 15 months of use out of a bat is reasonable anyway.
So, What’s the best youth baseball bat?
I know, I’ve had you reading through a lot, but I like to give you variety. I like to let you make an informed decision when you go to the store, and I believe that this article should help you do that.
There are benefits to every brand, every style, and every model. If you’re asking me to choose 1 bat that I’d purchase for my son – it’s the Voodoo series.
DeMarini Voodoo Overlord
To be completely honest, I’m a sucker for a bat that has a sleek design on the barrel, and all of the Voodoo bats have that.
Some of a bit more detail on the barrel than others, but I think they all look fantastic.
I’m also a fan of being able to get multiple bats from the same series – the Voodoo series offers your basic bat, a BBCOR bat, and enough size differences that a hitter could, literally, use the same 2-3 bats for his entire career if he chose.
In all fairness, I’ve also become a big supporter of DeMarini bats as a whole, so I’m a little biased.
I think, as a company, they do the best job of killing the “sting” of a bad hit.
In closing, make sure you know the rules of the league you’re purchasing your bat for. I would consistently suggest that you go for an aluminum bat, but wooden bats can make for an interesting purchase.
As with any purchase, do a little research before purchasing. Start with the batter – style changes, the type of bat, a player likes.
Never hesitate to go online and find reviews about bats – most major sporting good stores and Amazon.com will have a number of youth bat reviews that you can look up to get more information.
If you’re looking for a bit of an expert before you purchase, turn to the coaches on the team. They’ve been around the league, and its bats, for years.
Your coaches have seen the bats that add power. They’ve also seen the bats that seem to dent, warp, or break within the first week.
If you’re willing to trust your coach as a significant figure in your child’s life, you should be willing to trust your coach’s expertise on the weapon your child should hold.