By Aaron Barrows (Aaron was a 4-year starting outfielder at Eastern Kentucky with a .313 lifetime BA, and a former product developer for Louisville Slugger. Aaron knows bats. These are his *opinions*. Aaron’s job is not to sell bats. His job is to help you buy the right bat. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or @thebatscout)
Update 9/13/2016: Quatro Review
Bat Tested: Rawlings Quatro 33″ BBCOR
With the Rawlings Quatro being a new offering for 2017, it was definitely at the top of my list for most anticipated review. Spoiler alert: it didn’t disappoint.
Cosmetics / Graphics
The very first thing that you’ll notice about the Quatro is the neon yellow color. You can’t miss it, it’s literally everywhere, hence the nickname Glowstick. This bat makes a bold statement and it will be easily recognizable on the field from any distance. Once you get past the color, you will find a bat that has been beautifully designed. Rawlings spent a good amount of time designing, iterating and finalizing the graphics / cosmetics for the Quatro. Starting with what Rawlings is calling their Tru-View Technology, there is a long rectangular strip running the length of the barrel that acts as a window showing the true material that the bat is constructed of, which is composite. If you look closely, you can see where the barrel layup changes about halfway up the barrel from the connection and into the “performance” section. You’ll be able to notate the change in material when the design changes. For all of you other bat nerds out there, you’ll enjoy this great design feature. They’ve accented this area to make it pop, which looks to be almost matte or regular clear-coat. Unfortunately you need to see the bat in real life to get the full effect as the pictures don’t do it justice.
The barrel has a sharp taper (the area going from maximum barrel circumference down towards the handle), which makes the barrel look huge even though it maxes out at 2 5/8″. In addition, they use the silicone transition piece to line up exactly with the bottom of the barrel and transition down further to the handle making the barrel of the bat look extremely long. This is a visual trick* that has been done extremely well.
Check out the “4” made inside of the “Q” on the transition piece (above) representing 4 pieces. They also added “Quatro” to the raised design end cap. These were both nice touches.
**Side note: The word trick shouldn’t be thought of as negative in this context. All manufacturers use a combination of color, graphics and transition areas to make barrels look bigger and bats more aesthetically pleasing overall. Some companies just do a better job at it than others.**
Don’t judge the performance based on the sound alone. I had the chance to speak with a representative from Rawlings prior to hitting and he warned me that I would be thrown off by the sound after the first few swings and sure enough, he was absolutely right. Since the Quatro uses an internal composite cylinder to act as a governor (vs a barrel ring or variable wall thickness) to remain BBCOR compliant, the sounds that came from the Rawlings Quatro were all over the board. It ranged from high pitched aluminum ping to the dead composite thump. Most of the “thumps” came when I completely squared the ball up and the barrel wall was engaging the inner cylinder to make the sound. The ball came off plenty hot on the ugly sounding hits. Hitters will just need to get used to it. For you fast pitch fans out there, the Louisville Slugger Xeno made waves through the softball world with its glass shattering sound. At first, people were convinced that the bats were broken or didn’t like it because it was too loud. Fast forward to today and it’s one of the more popular bats on the market with a “patented” sound and great pop.
Feel / Swing Weight / Knob / Grip
The Quatro should be welcomed by a wide variety of hitters looking for a multi-piece composite as it has balanced swing weight with a mid to low MOI (moment of intertia). Overall, it is an easy bat to swing and get through the zone, but not the lightest. Once you get to contact you won’t have to worry about getting a stinger as the VBT (Vibration Dampening Technology) does its job, but still allows you to feel location of impact. The connection feels good, not too stiff or too flexible. I did however feel a little flex on a couple of balls hit off of the end, nothing discouraging, but it was there.
The knob has both a good shape and size to it. It looks and feels like it has been designed with a slight taper that fits against your bottom hand nicely. I think that the grip went well with the bat and felt pretty good. The small indentations felt like it gave a few more edges to catch onto. It did however start to bubble up and come undone after the first use, but I’m notoriously hard on bat grips. The only other issue is that it was immediately dirty after using it. That’s the downfall of using a light colored grip. They look phenomenal on the rack, but once you get them in the cage or on the field, the sparkle is gone. Both issues could be solved by throwing on a new Lizardskins grip if necessary.
The ball jumped off of the barrel in the cage as there were plenty of hissing liners back through the middle. As I said before, don’t let the sound at impact affect your judgement of how the ball is coming off. As with my usual testing protocol, aside from squaring the ball up on the sweet spot, I hit multiple balls off of the inner & outer third of the barrel which still resulted in good exit velocity. From my experience, the inner third of this barrel performed very well compared to the sweet spot. My hope is to be able to get this bat out on the field soon to see the true ball flight, especially against competitors.
There will be some players that are put off by the color and the sound, but if you get past those seemingly irrelevant (in a performance-centered world) things, you will find a really nice multi-piece, full composite and balanced bat with good performance. With a BBCOR price of $399.99, the Quatro will find itself right in the middle of the conversation with competitor offerings. If you’re looking to purchase a new bat, the Quatro definitely deserves a chance. Our friends over at JustBats.com have them in stock when you’re ready to pull the trigger. You can find BBCOR HERE and Senior League -10 2 3/4 HERE.
Check out the 2 Legit tech video I found to get an idea of how the inner cylinder works.