Hitters have to rely on their bat, just like their team relies on them to get on base and come through in the clutch.
That’s why choosing and buying a new baseball bat can be a long and often strenuous process. It can become a lot more strenuous when you are working on a budget.
The logic may seem backwards; less money to work with should mean fewer options. But, the truth is there are a lot more cheap baseball bats on the market than high end ones.
Since hitters are always going to look for the bat that gives them the best competitive edge at the plate, it stands to reason that those without financial constraints will almost always choose from the handful of high end bats.
Quick Look: Top 3 Picks
Players on a budget, on the other hand, have to weed through the racks of cheap baseball bats to find the diamond in the rough.
Knowing which bats offer performance-enhancing features, while still remaining affordable is vital to a player who doesn’t want to break the bank buying a new baseball bat.
When and Where to Buy Cheap Baseball Bats
Before getting into some of your top options for best affordable bats, it is important to look at where and when to buy a bat to save you the most money.
The when is easy; baseball bats are cheapest during the off-season (late fall and winter).
This is typically the time that bat manufacturers begin unveiling and releasing the upcoming year’s lineup of bats, which means retailers and sporting goods stores begin discounting the previous year’s models to make room.
Sometimes, you can find good deals and pick up a high-end bat on the cheap, just because it is last year’s model.
And truthfully, there usually isn’t much difference between one year and the next.
For where to shop, it really comes down to who is offering you the best deal. Again, you want to keep your head on a swivel for those big blowout sales.
Typically, you want to shop at a sporting goods store or pro shop, as this gives you the opportunity to physically touch, feel and swing the bat before buying.
But, if you are on a tight budget, you can find some really tremendous deals by shopping online.
These online stores are more likely to be offering discounts, coupons and other savings that can help finance your new stick.
10 Best Cheap Baseball Bats
You aren’t always going to have the luxury of shopping for a bat during the off-season. Spring may roll around, you’ll take your first few batting practice swings and realize your favorite club has lost its pop.
When you have to find a replacement fast, right at the start of the season, keep an eye out for these ten bats.
Each one delivers on being affordable and durable, while offering some of the bat technologies features in their high end counterparts.
Louisville Slugger Omaha 516
Every year, the Louisville Slugger Omaha 516 continues to impress players as a one-piece alloy bat.
It’s a bat where when you get into its different features and materials and then look at the price tag, you are almost positive it is mislabeled.
It is so good, in fact, that some players on top 25 NCAA baseball teams use it.
It’s prowess starts with the Louisville Slugger’s 7U1 Alloy. It is specially engineered to provide the Omaha 516 with a big sweet spot, while maintaining its reputation as a light-swinging bat.
The alloy is so effective that this is the lightest Omaha 516 yet. To keep the ultra-lightweight bat in your hands, the handle is wrapped in Lizard Skins Grip.
The bat is available in these different models:
|Senior League 2 5/8 (-10)
|Senior League 2 3/4 (-10)
The BBCOR model has an additional feature, the Flex Band Technology.
This 1-inch disc inside the barrel of the bat allows it to have thinner barrel walls, for more pop and a bigger sweet spot, while still abiding by league standards.
If you aren’t happy, Louisville Slugger backs the Omaha 516 with a rare 30-day performance guarantee.
Available in only one (BBCOR) variation, this cheap BBCOR bat has a handle design unique to only AXE bats.
True to their name, AXE bats feature a curved handle, which mirrors what an actual axe handle looks like.
This curved handle design is said to deliver better bat control, more power and speed, greater comfort and fewer injuries.
The AXE Element is a budgeting power hitter’s dream. Not only is it affordable, but it also is a one-piece alloy bat with a fully end-loaded swing weight, everything a big slugger looks for.
The one-piece construction allows it to remain stiff, while the heavy end weight puts more power and mass behind each contact.
The result? Balls are hit farther and harder.
Due to the curved handle, the AXE Element hits from only one side, which is why the barrel is made with heavy-duty, military-grade Mantic Alloy.
This material can withstand the heavy workload that comes from only hitting on one side of the bat.
With its unconventional handle, the AXE Element may take some getting used to. That’s why AXE offers a 30-day money back guarantee.
Easton Z-CORE HMX
Similar to the AXE Element, Easton’s Z-CORE HMX is a BBCOR-only bat. However, it has three different BBCOR variations: XL, TORQ and the normal HMX.
|Z-CORE HMX BBCOR
|Z-CORE HMX TORQ BBCOR
|Z-CORE HMX XL BBCOR
The XL is end loaded, to satisfy power hitters. The TORQ and HMX both have a more balanced swing weight, but the TORQ features Easton’s innovative 360-degree rotating handle, which is designed to help a hitter square up on inside pitches more easily.
The 2016 Easton Z-CORE HMX is another one of those cheap baseball bats that has so much going for it you’d swear it was mispriced.
The HMX (Hyperlite Matrix) alloy works in tandem with the Z-CORE Internal Core Technology.
These two high-quality bat technologies allow the bat to have one of the longest aluminum barrels on the market.
Not only is the barrel long, but it is also hyper responsive with good pop.
The engineers paid close attention to the weight of the balanced TORQ and regular HMX models. Anywhere that weight could be lost, it was.
The XL, on the other hand, puts weight in the end of the barrel for more powerful swings.
Overall, the Easton Z-CORE HMX is affordable and menacing at the plate. The price ranges, depending on the variation (with the XL being the most expensive and the regular HMX the least).
With COMBAT already releasing the 2017 Vigor, the 2016 model has seen a big cut to its price tag. You can now catch this bat for less than $100.
It is available as a BBCOR bat or it has four different Senior League variations with different swing weights and sizes: -5, -8, -10 (2.625-inch barrel diameter), -10 (2.75-inch barrel diameter).
This makes it a universal option, no matter what league you are playing in.
|Senior League 2 5/8 (-5)
|Senior League 2 5/8 (-8)
|Senior League 2 5/8 (-10)
|Senior League 2 3/4 (-10)
The Vigor uses COMBAT’s Precision Molding Technology in its construction. This process precisely joins the inner and outer walls of the barrel so that no seams or weak spots occur.
Not only does this improve the durability of the bat, but also its performance and actually provides the Vigor with a larger sweet spot and more optimized power.
As a one-piece composite baseball bat, the COMBAT Vigor is ultra-responsive. While this can sometimes result in painful bat sting (the handle is wrapped in Lizard Skins Grip for comfort and feedback dampening), a lot of players like this responsive feel.
Why? Because it allows them to clearly hear and feel the difference between getting just a piece of the ball and getting the whole thing.
This feeling is greatly aided by the Variable Stiffness profile of the bat, which features a precisely calibrated inner-wall design that allows the barrel to maximize its compression (thereby increasing the trampoline effect on the ball) upon every contact.
COMBAT Portent G4
The COMBAT Portent G4 is very similar to its sibling, the Vigor. Both bats undergo the same Precision Molding process for a seamless construction with zero weak points.
They both have the same one-piece, composite construction that is responsive and helped out by the Variable Stiffness Technology to achieve optimal barrel compression at each hit.
The differences between the two of these budget baseball bats is that the Portent G4 has two youth models (-10, -12 drop), but lacks the wide range of Senior League models.
|Senior League 2 5/8 (-8)
|Senior League 2 5/8 (-10)
In terms of swing weight, the Portent G4 has a bit more of a balanced swing than its Vigor counterpart, although the difference is very slight.
The two bats are also different in prices. With 2016 winding down, a lot of these bats are becoming marked down.
The BBCOR variety being the most expensive, while the Youth -10 and Senior League -8 are the cheapest of the bunch.
Given the major similarities between the Portent G4 and the Vigor, it is worth looking at both and comparing prices. It could save your wallet some trouble.
Rawlings 5150 Alloy
Yearly, the Rawlings 5150 Alloy baseball bat attracts hitters for a variety of reasons. First, it is affordable, even at first release. With 2017 looming, it is practically a steal.
The second reason the 5150 is always met with open arms is the 5150 Alloy that it gets its name from.
This material is an aerospace-grade alloy comprised of some of the toughest metals on the planet. This guarantees your bat will last all season long and beyond.
The material is also extra responsive, to give your hits that extra bit of pop.
Previous models of the 5150 had one major flaw, according to hitters; it had terrible bat sting.
To fix this, the engineers at Rawlings decided that the 2016 model would be a hybrid, two-piece construction.
The handle, made from 100% composite materials, helps eliminate that unpleasant feedback because those otherwise painful vibrations dampen the second they hit the handle.
In addition to reducing feedback, this two-piece design also allows the 5150 Alloy bats to achieve superior bat whip for more oomph behind your hits.
The Rawlings 5150 Alloy is available in four models: BBCOR, Senior League -10 with a 2.625-inch barrel diameter, another Senior League -10 but with a fatter barrel (2.75 inches) and a Senior League -5.
Again, the prices range depending on the model, but you can get most variations for under $100.
Rawlings VELO Ash Wood Bats
If you are looking for a cheap wooden baseball bat, instead of an aluminum one, the Rawlings VELO Ash Wood Bat is a good option.
It is available as a -3 length-to-weight ratio, which although not officially BBCOR-certified, meets the standards, and as a youth bat.
Rawlings VELO Ash Youth Wood Baseball Bat
There is also a “Big Stick” Ash bat that is end-loaded to meet the needs of a power hitter.
Unfortunately, the end-loaded weight doesn’t mesh well with natural, flexible nature of the ash wood. Thus, it is more prone to breaking.
That said, the non-end-loaded versions are sturdy and long-lasting, as the flex profile isn’t thrown off by any extra weight at the end.
This means you’ll be having to buy fewer bats throughout the season.
Ash is also affordable and lightweight, which gives the VELO Ash Wood bats a nice balanced swing for cheap.
The only drawback to the VELO Ash Wood sticks is their grip; a lot of players complain that it isn’t tacky enough.
Luckily, you can buy a Lizard Skins Grip for just a few dollars more and ensure that you have a premium grip and thereby ultimate bat control on every swing.
Mizuno Nighthawk Hybrid
This is another bat series that recently got discounted, thanks to the impending release of the 2017 lineup.
What once would have cost you around $300 to put in your hands, now can be picked up for around $100.
|Mizuno Nighthawk (-3)
|Mizuno Nighthawk (-10)
Similar to the Rawlings 5150 Alloy Bat, the Mizuno Nighthawk Hybrid offers great vibration dampening technology thanks to its patented 2 PC Link Construction.
It is one of the best bats at reducing bat sting, which means you can swing freely at any pitch.
The bat’s other innovation is in its single wall MZ3000+ barrel. Not only does it have an absolutely awesome sound, but it uses six distinct thickness zones to perfectly calibrate the barrel compression on each hit.
The result is more pop, a bigger sweet spot and a superior trampoline effect on batted balls.
Overall, the 2016 Mizuno Nighthawk Hybrid is a great choice for a cheap baseball bat that has a balanced swing weight and lots of performance-enhancing technologies.
The synthetic leather grip leaves a little to be desired, but similar to the wooden Rawlings VELO Ash, you can easily (and cheaply) pickup a better grip.
Thus, each design feature of the S3 caters to this archetype of batters and the qualities they look for and need in their bat of choice.
For example, the S3 uses Easton’s HMX alloy (the same as the Z-Core bat above). This material expands the sweet spot of the bat, while maintaining a low swing weight.
Thus, you can cut through the strike zone swiftly and drive the ball through the infield for those game-on-the-line base hits.
The one drawback to its design is that it is a one-piece bat. While this allows you to feel each swing and better determine when you’ve gotten all of it and when you just missed, it can cause some painful bat sting, especially on the speedy hands of contact hitters.
The HYPERSKIN Grip does little to deter this potential issue. However, if you don’t mind the occasional ringer on your hands, the one-piece design does ensure that all of your power and created energy goes right into the ball.
The 2016 Easton S3 is available as a Youth bat and a Junior Big Barrel. The Junior Big Barrel is slightly heavier, but has a barrel diameter an entire half inch thicker than the Youth bat.
The S3 also has two -10 drop Senior League bats; one has a 2.625-inch barrel diameter and the other a 2.75-inch.
Louisville Slugger Prime 916
The 2016 Louisville Slugger Prime 916 is not one of the lowest-priced baseball bats right now.
The Senior League models (which it has four sizes: -5, -8, -10 (2.625-inch barrel), -10 (2.75-inch barrel) are still priced, by most retailers, anywhere from $180-270.
That said, the 2017 Prime 917 just hit the market. Thus, this bat is undoubtedly headed to the discount rack and the price is likely to drop substantially.
The Prime 916 is a tremendous three-piece composite bat that is designed with a Fused Carbon Structure (FCS) for lighter weight and the largest sweet spot in Louisville Slugger’s 2016 arsenal.
The three-piece design is due to its TRU3 Technology which adds a connective piece between the handle and barrel that allows for slight movement between the two pieces.
This further helps the FCS design by improving the barrel’s trampoline effect, as well as negating unpleasant feedback.
The BBCOR version has the same 1-inch disc inside the barrel as the Omaha 516 for better barrel compression and optimized wall thickness.
|Prime 916 BBCOR (-3)
Overall, if you liked everything about the Omaha 516, but are looking for a two-piece bat (or three-piece), the Prime 916 would be a great option, once the price dips a bit lower.
Best Cheap Youth Baseball Bats
When you are shopping for a cheap youth baseball bat, there are a few additional factors that come into play.
For one, how dedicated or interested is your child in the sport? You don’t want to spend hundreds of dollars on a high-end bat that spends most of its time in the garage.
At the same time, if you purchase a low quality bat, their performance will suffer and they will lose interest in the sport.
Additionally, you also have to think about the rapidity of children’s growth. They could quickly outgrow their bat between seasons and you have to go looking for a replacement.
From the above list of cheap baseball bats, the best youth option has to be the Omaha 516, with both COMBAT bats and the Rawlings 5150 Alloy coming in close second.
What’s nice about the Omaha 516, especially for young players, is that it has the look and feel of a top level bat, but doesn’t come with that big, big price tag.
Also, its different Senior League sizes means your young player can stick to the same bat as they grow up, just a heavier or longer model.
Both COMBAT bats also bring a lot to the table and they both have such a tremendous ping sound upon contact.
Sometimes that noise is enough to build that essential confidence at the plate and be remembered by pitchers.
The same is true of the Rawlings 5150 Alloy. Plus, its two-piece hybrid design helps eliminate the bat sting that a lot of youth players dread.
Finding high-performing and reasonably priced bats involves a lot of shopping around and waiting. But, it also takes a bit of research.
These ten options should give you some insight into what features to look for and what you are getting for your dollar. The best advice is to just remain vigilant.
If you are a player that is always on a budget, you should constantly keep your eyes open for that big deal, even if you don’t need a new bat yet.
You never know when yours could lose its pop. Or even worse, crack and break.
You could find that absolute steal that puts a would-be bank breaker into your hands for just around $100.