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By Aaron Barrows
Bat Tested & Reviewed: Marucci CAT7 Limited Edition 33” BBCOR / $249.95
The Marucci CAT7 has become one of the most popular bats in the entire 2017 bat line. The solid performance, good feel, versatile swing weight / MOI (Moment of Inertia) and mid-tier price point all factor into the CAT7 being a great choice for a wide variety of hitters. Building on its success, Marucci has released a CAT7 Limited Edition in BBCOR (-3), Senior League (-5) 2 5/8 and (-10) 2 3/4 barrel. The CAT7 Limited Edition is a “color up” of the original CAT7, which means it has the same great features with a new graphics package. If you were the guy that hung back at the beginning of the season waiting to figure out which bats were going to rise above the rest, now is your chance to take a good look at the one piece aluminum CAT7 Limited Edition.
Cosmetics / Graphics *NEW*
For the Limited Edition, Marucci went with a black gloss base color with gray & gold accents vs the white, gray and red of the original CAT7. In my opinion, I think that the black and gold turned out awesome. After looking at the bat under the sun and indoor lighting, I noticed that while inside you’ll see the gold paint has a little shimmer or sparkle in it to add a little something extra. If you look closely, you will also notice that the smaller details weren’t skipped over either. The AV2 knob color insert was changed to gold along with the knob medallion and end cap design. When comparing the two versions, I actually prefer this color scheme compared to the original.
When Marucci originally released the first CAT5, it was obvious that detailed graphics were not a huge concern of the company. From the CAT5 squared on, they have continued that trend by sticking with essentially the same look of a white base, grey & red lettering and grey hurricane-esque circular design surrounding the model name sporting the high gloss finish. Marucci actually just released an article showing the progression of their CAT aluminum bats over the past few years, which you can find here: Evolution of the Marucci CAT Aluminum Line
When comparing the original CAT7 and CAT7 Connect graphics, there is no difference. There could be multiple explanations for this choice: They could be saving money for a better margin (business decision), the idea of strictly focusing on performance or using it as a brand strategy among others. Either way you know what you’re getting upfront. They did however, go with an upgraded rubber knob medallion vs the traditional plastic bubble type to show the length of the bat, which is a nice detail. They also keep things pretty simple with the rollover end cap presumably made of TPU like many other bats.
The CAT7 introduces the AV2 (Anti Vibration Knob), improving upon its predecessor of the original AV knob. Coming from the Marucci, the AV2 knob “features a finely tuned and upgraded harmonic dampening system for better feel and less negative vibrational feedback in hitters’ hands.” The first thing I noticed about the AV2 is its size. It is probably the biggest knob I’ve ever seen on a non-wood bat. At first glance, I was skeptical about how it would feel in my hands, but after I started swinging, it was a non-issue during the test. It reminded me of a wood bat knob, which would make sense if it was “professionally-inspired”. If you’re a guy that wraps your pinky and or ring finger around the knob, you should feel this bat in your hands before making a decision.
This thing is LOUD! The bat was tested at an indoor facility, which adds a little emphasis with echo, but there will be no mistaking it out on the field. There were multiple people in the cages that stopped what they were doing to look over at what I was swinging. It reminded me of the Rawlings Velo, but I’d have to hit them head to head for a direct comparison. If you’re in love with the ping, you won’t be disappointed.
Feel / Swing Weight
The CAT7 is a fairly balanced bat. It won’t have the lowest MOI (moment of inertia) in the one piece aluminum class, but I don’t think it will be the heaviest either. It should fall right in the middle to reach a pretty broad group of players. It was tested in a variety of scenarios, which included balls off the middle barrel, inner barrel/handle and off the last 3 inches of the bat. There wasn’t a ball hit that ever sent a stinger through my hands, which was nice. With it being a 1 piece alloy, you can definitely feel more vibration / feedback than a 2 piece, but a combination of the AV2 knob and padded grip prevented any shooting pain on jam jobs. A side note on the grip: it seemed pretty thick to me, especially on top of a padded handle taper. It worked out fine with batting gloves, but I did notice it to start getting a little slick if it interacted with sweat / water. Something that can easily be changed out if it doesn’t work for you.
Without hitting it head to head against a CAT6 or scientifically measuring the barrel exit speed with a performance cannon, it’s hard to say whether Marucci’s claim of the sweet spot being 2x larger than the CAT6 is accurate. With their AZ4X technological advances using a 7 area variable wall thickness design, I’m sure they were able to make the sweet spot larger. Their use of the variable wall thickness along the barrel is also Marucci’s way of remaining BBCOR compliant vs competitor offerings that use inserts or rings. In my opinion, the bat performed pretty well in testing and actually better than I thought it would.
I was pleasantly surprised how well this bat tested out. The ball seemed to shoot off of the AZ4X barrel even when impact moved off of the sweet spot (You can see some evidence of this during the 2016 Area Code Games home run derby). They may have a hard time competing with some of the options from Louisville Slugger, Demarini, Rawlings and Easton, but Marucci should be able leverage their wood bat success in the non-wood space to a certain extent along with prior CAT models. If you are in the market for a new one piece aluminum, take the CAT7 out for a round of BP. It will be worth it. With a few years under their belt, I like the direction that Marucci is heading and I’m excited to see what they release in the future… maybe a multi-piece composite?
When you’re ready to order one, go visit our friends at MarucciSports.com.