Softball and baseballís favorite newspaper since 1987
The inaugural Letís Play Baseball bat review and contest pitted the top hardball bats in the business
By Derek Johnson
Letís Play Baseball
The Letís Play Baseball bat review and contest was a huge success with a lot of winners. The contest consisted of 15 adult (-3) bats from 10 manufacturers and each bat was rated on a 1-10 scale, with 10 being the best, in seven categories. The seven categories were: the grip/handle, swing, pop, feel, sweet spot, appearance and sound. In addition, to make the contest fair for each entry, the bats were put into two groups Ė one for bats over $300 and the other for bats under $300.
The review/contest took place on July 19 at a baseball field in the Twin Cities area. Included on the testing panel were several high school and college baseball players. Each panelist took 10 swings with each bat (with solid contact) with pitches coming from a pitching machine using real baseballs at 50 mph.
In the group of bats over $300, the grip/handle category had two winners from the same manufacturer Ė Nike. The Nike Aero Fuse is a two-piece, ultra-high performance bat with a new Speedlink System carbon composite handle and alloy barrel for quicker bat speed and reduced bat vibration, making this one of the smoothest bats on the market. Priced at a reasonable $300, this is a must-have type of bat!
The judges gave this bat high marks for its excellent grip, nice feel and its overall appearance as the judges commented on how sharp this bat looked. The Nike Aero Fuse received a 9.75 out of 10!
The Nike Aero CX-2 is loaded with technology to make this one of the hottest bats around! The Aero CX-2 also has the new Speedlink System carbon composite handle and alloy bat technology. The Aero CX-2 also has a Power Belt technology that maximizes the size of the sweet spot location. This is a lightweight, durable, two-piece elite bat that would increase any hitterís batting average and power hitting stats. With all the technology that is loaded into this bat, it is very reasonably priced at $400!
The judges were attracted to this bat from the get-go with its appearance and sound. After taking a few swings, the judges didnít want to put the bat down. The Nike Aero CX-2 received a 9.78 out of 10!
The winner of the best swing category went to the Miken MV3 AB 100 Composite. This bat has advanced InnerFlex technology that has taken the performance of this bat to the next level. The bat has a multi-layer Biaxial and MPa7 Resin System to enhance the sweet spot on the bat for all those power hitters! If you want a bat that has a superior feel and want to hit the long ball, this is the bat to have! The bat is priced well at $300.
The judges were impressed by the swing and feel, and enjoyed how quickly they were able to put the bat on the ball. The Miken MV3 AB100 Composite received a 9.62 out of 10!
Demarini bats have been known for their exceptional pop in the bat and how easily the ball flies off the bat. The Voodoo didnít disappoint. The Demarini Voodoo was the winner of the best pop category. The Voodoo has Silver Trace technology for added strength and improved power transfer and has the SC4 Alloy for thinner walls and a larger sweet spot. The ball carries off the bat very well. If youíre looking for a bat with great pop, a large sweet spot and priced around $300, this is the bat for you!†
The judges eyed this bat right away with its attractive appearance, but once the bat was swung, it was the pop, feel and sound that became the most attractive part. The Demarini Voodoo received a 9.84 out of 10!
Louisville Sluggers have always been a household name in the baseball bat world and the Louisville Exogrid-CB11EX2 can be added to that long list of elite bats! This bat was the winner of the best feel of the bat category. The Exogrid is an AC21 Alloy/Composite hybrid that delivers power and performance. It has a patented Pro Cup end cap and synthetic grip that adds to the feel of this bat making it one of the elite bats on the market and only priced at $370!†
The judges all agreed while the bat had quick swing speed and a nice grip, it was the feel of the bat that put this bat in the elite category. The Louisville Exogrid-CB11EX2 received a 9.73 out of 10!
The judges rated this bat high in several categories, such as pop off the bat, appearance of the bat, and feel of the bat, but it was its large sweet spot that the judges drooled over. The Easton Surge BSV5XL received a 9.85 out of 10.
The winner of the best appearance of the bat went to the Reebok Vector O Composite. This bat has the Reebok O-Technology which reduces drag throughout the bat swing increasing the bat speed. Also, has the threaded locking system in the handle to reduce the vibration in the bat. With its sleek look and priced well at $300, this bat will fulfill your needs!
While the judges at first were unfamiliar with this bat, that soon changed after a couple swings. This bat received positive results in many categories such as pop off the bat, a large sweet spot, and quick bat speed to go along with its best appearance of the bat category win. The Reebok Vector O Composite received a 9.61 out of 10.
Rawlings is another household name in baseball and as expected Rawlings have produced a must have bat. The Rawlings 5150 Exogrid Ph.D Composite was the winner of the best sound off the bat category. The 5150 Exogrid is a one piece alloy frame reinforced with the patented Exogrid Ph.D technology. The bat features an ultra-responsive 5150 alloy barrel for higher strength and durability. This bat is ready to take your game to the next level and is reasonably priced at $300!
This bat may have won the best sound of the bat category, but the judges were plenty impressed with other aspects of bat. The bat received high marks with its quick speed, nice feel of the bat, and its overall appearance. The Rawlings 5150 Exogrid Ph.D Composite received a 9.80 out of 10.
The Miken MV3 Adult HT has the advanced InnerFlex technology for maximum distance and ball speed off the bat. The hybrid technology merging with Aerospace Carbon Fiber technology with High Performance Tempered Alloy will deliver at a high performance level for a batter at the plate. The multi-layer biaxial technology and MPa7 Resin System adds durability and distance to the bat. A solid bat with excellent performance priced well at $300 makes this bat one to have!
The judges gave this bat high marks in the grip/handle category along with the feel of the bat. Also, the bat rated high in the appearance and sound off the bat categories. The Miken MV3 Adult HT received 9.55 out of 10!
The Marucci AZ3000 Alloy has anti-vibration technology to take the sting out of the bat and adds comfort to the athlete on every swing. The grip on the bat is thicker adding a better feel for the bat. The barrel of the bat has an elongated design to add power to the bat and a larger sweet spot. An athlete looking for a bat with no-sting technology and a smooth feel for the bat on every swing look no farther than the AZ3000 reasonably priced at $300!
The judges gave this bat high marks in the swing of the bat category and feel of the bat, which is understandable Marucci designing this bat with a no-sting technology and adding comfort to the athlete when making contact with the ball. This bat also was rated high in the sweet spot category. The Marucci AZ3000 Alloy received a 9.54 out of 10!
That wraps up the first group of bats. The second group of bats have five bats that are all under $250 and a couple of the bats won multiple categories.
The winner of the best grip/handle of the bat category was the Mattingly Ripped RPDAB. The Mattingly Ripped has the patented V-Grip technology with helps with proper hand place and increased bat speed. The new MB5500 Atomic Alloy construction creates a strong and durable bat. The bat has a huge extended barrel for a large sweet spot and New Tru Balance for unbeatable feel of the bat. With all this technology into this bat and able to compete with the group one bats, it is almost a steal at only $160!
The judges gave high marks in the grip/handle category and also in its appearance and sound off the bat. The Mattingly Ripped RPDAB received a 9.04 out of 10!
The Louisville Slugger Omaha CB116 was the winner of two categories. The bat won best swing category and best pop off the bat category. This bat has an alloy barrel to enhance feel of the ball off the bat and increase ball speed off the bat. Also, this bat has the synthetic grip and patented Pro Cup end cap. Priced at only highly affordable $230!
The judges were excited after swinging this bat. Each one of the judges liked the swing speed of the bat and the pop off the bat. The Louisville Slugger Omaha CB116 received 9.30 out of 10!
The Reebok Vector O Aluminum also was the winner of two categories. The bat won best feel of the bat category and best sweet spot category. This bat has the Reebok O-Technology which reduces drag throughout the bat swing increasing the bat speed. Also, has the threaded locking system in the handle to reduce the vibration in the bat. The style of the end cap is a Vector Texin and has a tackified handle grip to enhance comfort and control. This is one bat that can give the $300 bats a run for its money and itís only priced at a mere $245!
The judges gave this bat high marks in almost every category, but really enjoyed how the bat felt especially when they hit the ball in its sweet spot; which is easy to do on this bat as it has a huge sweet spot. The Reebok Vector O Aluminum received a 9.37 out of 10!
The Rawlings 5150 Alloy is the winner of the best appearance of the bat category. This bat has an alloy barrel formulated for higher strength and durability along with increased flex for optimal power and feel. Priced at only $200, this is one sweet bat to have!
This bat may have won the best appearance of the bat category, but it received high marks in many areas such as the nice pop off the bat and the huge sweet spot on the bat. The Rawlings 5150 Alloy received a 9.28 out of 10!
The best sound of the bat category went to the Rip-It-Elite Prototype. A brand new bat for 2011, this is one bat to take a look at. The bat has an Advanced Tempered Ballistic Alloy Blend for that extra pop in the bat and great feel of the bat, has flex technology for strength and durability, and has premium cushioned grip for added comfort while swinging the bat. Priced at a low $150, this bat is affordable and an excellent bat to have if you donít want to spend money on a $300+ bat!
The judges liked the feel of the bat and thought it had a large sweet spot. Also, the judges liked the cushioned grip for comfort as they noticed theyíre hands werenít stinging after swing this bat. The Rip-It-Elite Prototype received a 9 out of 10!
2010 Letís Play Baseball Bat Review/Contest rankings
$300 and up††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Grip†††††††††† Swing†††††† Pop†††††† Feel†††††††† Sweet Spot†††††† Look††††††† Sound†† Cost
Demarini Voodoo†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3††††††††††† $300
Marucci AZ3000 ALLOY†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† $300
Miken MV3 AB 100 Composite ††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† $300
Miken MV3 Adult HT††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† $300
Nike Aero Fuse††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† $300
Nike Aero CX-2††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2††††††††††††††††††† 2††††††††††† $400
Rawlings 5150 EXOGRID Ph.D COMP††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1††††††††††† $300
Reebok Vector O Composite†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2††††††††††††††††††††††† 1††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† $300
Under $300†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† Grip†††††††††† Swing†††††† Pop†††††† Feel†††††††† Sweet Spot†††††† Look††††††† Sound†† Cost
Mattingly Ripped RPDAB††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2††††††††††††††††††† 2††††††††††† $160
Rawlings 5150 ALLOY†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3††††††††††††††††† 2††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 2††††††††††††††††††††††† 1††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† $200
Reebok Vector O †††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3†††††††††††††††††††††† 2††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1††††††††††††††††††††††††† 1††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††† 3††††††††††† $245