The first bats in conformance with the new USAbat standards went up for sale on September 1, 2017. Since then this site has maintained a database of all USAbat models currently available or expected to be available soon. The list has not grown by much since September. Many of the lighter models won’t be released until 2018, as some bat makers struggle to get these models to meet the new standard.
So how are the early USAbat models actually doing in the hands of young baseball players?
My son has only personally tested one bat model, but reports are coming in from other parents testing various models, including one parent who spent over $3000 of his own money to test many of the new bats. In this post I share some of these early takes, including some personal observations I have from visiting my local Big 5 and weighing a few bats. Quite a bit of the information for this article comes from a USAbat thread at Baseball Fever, where coaches and other avid youth baseball parents honestly share information.
tldr version: Most of the expensive composite USAbat models disappoint, while a few of the more affordable single-piece aluminum bats stand out as good values.
Read on for details, including recommendations for a couple specific models that seem like early standouts.
Each person in our family of three takes turns saying a few things he or she is grateful for as part of a regular dinner ritual. Quite often, one of us says something related to baseball such as gratitude for a particular baseball coach, an inspiring MLB story, being part of a fun team, or support for my son’s biggest passion in life. Of course, we also express gratitude related to many other areas of life.
Scientists have studied gratitude and the impact it can have on peoples’ lives. I know because my wife researched gratitude quite a bit before publishing her book My Amazing Day, a board book which helps toddlers and their families develop habits of gratitude. The toddler featured in My Amazing Day revels in everyday wonders, as any 2-year-old might do. It’s a great toddler gift, as the gift of gratitude is one that keeps on giving.
I’d like to share what I’m thankful for as it relates to this site. I’ll start with my readers, including some traffic stats:
Even the most casual fan of baseball knows that baseball players have to sprint. In addition to sprinting to first base or beyond after hitting a ball into play, outfielders run after fly balls, infielders accelerate quickly to get to a ball, and base runners steal.
But that’s not all.
Ballplayers who improve their sprinting also develop muscles used in hitting and pitching. Improving sprinting also improves explosiveness, by recruiting the right types of muscle fibers (type II) and generating energy more efficiently with the body’s fastest system for replenishing ATP, Creatine Phosphate.
My 7th grade son has been working out for the past half year. It started with calisthenics towards the end of his baseball season. After the baseball season ended in early September, he also began a plyometrics program based on the book Progressive Plyometrics for Kids, as a way to step up his efforts to become fit in the baseball off season.
Though I already briefly mentioned plyometrics as part of my Strength and Conditioning guide, I’m ready to fully review the program now that he’s done as much of it as he’s going to do.
To summarize: On the one hand, the book is very well done. When followed with good faith effort the program produces impressive, measurable results. On the other hand my son was unable to stay motivated enough to complete all 6 weeks of the program.
None of the teams I normally root for were in the World Series this year. Yet, it was one of the more interesting World Series I’ve watched. We saw some terrific fielding. There were a few steals and bunts to add a little spice to the games. We got to watch Kershaw and Verlander put on good pitching shows. Yes, I know, the Astros did manage to get to Kershaw in the 4th inning of the 5th game . . .
But what will probably be remembered most about this World Series were the record 25 home runs, 15 hit by the Astros, and 10 hit by the Dodgers. The MVP was awarded to George Springer on account of his 5 Springer Dingers.
Curiously, I never heard any of the World Series broadcasters discuss Springer’s bat.
It’s an Axe bat.
The fact that his bat was never discussed suggests to me that Axe bats are no longer curiosities used by some college teams and a few well known major league players (Dustin Pedroia, Mookie Betts, etc.). Axe bats, while not quite mainstream, are common enough to no longer merit special mention.
And yet, I’m still not seeing too many Axe bats used in youth baseball. I think that’s going to change over the next few years, and not just because of Springer’s Dingers. Here’s why:
Below is a complete list of youth baseball bats with the USABat stamp printed on them (last updated January 17, 2017).
All bats on this list are approved for play in leagues which require this new standard, which goes into effect January 1, 2018 for most recreation leagues in the U.S. In addition to bat name, model number, width, drop, and length range, the list also includes MSRP (Manufacturer’s Suggested Retail Price).
Editor's Note: I'm pleased to introduce guest writer Karr Fager, a college athlete currently attending Northwestern University. Karr has played baseball, basketball, and soccer in high school and beyond, so I jumped at the opportunity when he offered to share his thoughts about the multi-sports athlete experience. Karr discusses many other issues related to the physical and mental side of baseball at his blog, Baseball Hideout - Joe Golton
As a multiple sport athlete, I have long wondered how much the other sports I played affected my baseball play, if at all. Baseball was my main sport from a young age, but I thoroughly enjoyed pickup games of football, basketball, volleyball, and really any other sport I could get my hands on.
Formal strength and conditioning programs for athletes usually start in high school. While this happens to be the cultural norm in the U.S., it’s not what’s best for serious athletes in youth baseball or any other sport. Starting earlier not only has the potential to increase performance short-term. A well done physical conditioning routine reduces the chance of injury and helps increase an athlete’s long-term potential.
The question is not whether strength and conditioning is appropriate for young athletes, but rather which specific strength and training activities are appropriate for pre-high school athletes, and how to tailor these activities specifically to an athlete and his or her sport(s).
I’ve spent months trying to get my mind around the general concepts and specific implementation of physical conditioning routines, because my 12-year-old son loves to play baseball, loves to pitch, and has the motivation to do what is needed to keep his arm healthy and maximize his long-range potential.
What can he do to minimize his chances for injury while increasing his chances to realize his full velocity potential 5 years from now?
After 6 years of researching and writing about AA and AAA rechargeable batteries and chargers, this site continues to have the same basic advice:
Use pre-charged, low self-discharge (LSD) batteries for AA and AAA battery needs. When used with a quality charger, LSD batteries offer the best combination of long-term cost-effectiveness, quality, durability, and environmental sustainability. Once you’ve tried LSD batteries with a good charger and realize how good they are, you’ll end up using them for the vast majority of devices that require AA or AAA batteries.
If you prefer to skip the details, click to the Just Tell Me What to Buy section of this article. If you prefer to understand what you’re buying, read on.