By Brian Duryea
For those who will be watching the greatest baseball event of the year over the next two weeks, I thought I’d put together a guide to the baseball bats you should see. My hope is to turn you into a youth bat Rain Man of sorts–uncontrollably naming out the bats as they get to the plate.
Know, as well, that Easton owns the tournament. Not literally, but sort of. They have a bat contract with LLWS and any player in the tourney on ESPN must use an Easton bat. Hence the reason all the bats below are Easton made.
Bat #1: Easton MAKO
The Easton MAKO was the most buzzed about bat this year in little league and it is no surprise you will see a lot of it at the plate in the LLWS. It’s the middle swing weight bat of Easton’s Power Brigade Series. Reviews on the bat have been mixed but overall The MAKO grades out as a very good high end bat. The expectations were so through the roof on this bat (not quelled by its price point) that they were hard to meet. As a result, it appears, more than just a couple little leaguers wondered why this neon orange bat wasn’t hitting home runs for them.
Overall I’d suspect Easton made boatloads of money selling the Easton MAKO. Which is probably what has given Easton the confidence to extend the line again in 2015 as well as make a TORQ version of the bat with a spinning handle at a new record price point.
Bat #2: Easton XL Series
The XL Series from Easton is a recognizable almost all yellow bat. It comes in three different versions: A one piece full aluminum alloy called the X3, a two piece composite bat called the X1, and a hybrid version with an aluminum handle and composite barrel called the X2.
There were clearly some other good options in the 2014 class but, in our opinion, the 2014 Easton XL1 was the best youth bat of the year. In particular, the drop 5 XL1 was an outstanding bat. Particularly because, we think, Easton smartly worked the system a bit. We measured and weighed the bat XL1 in our lab (and by lab I mean basement) and found that the actual weight on the XL1 drop 5 was usually a good 2 ounces above the stated weight. In other words, a 32/27 drop 5 XL1 was really a drop 3 weighing in at 29+ ounces. A “drop 3” with only little league restrictions on its trampoline effect would be a verifiable bomb dropper which, it turns out, is exactly what the XL1 drop 5 from 2014 was.
To be clear, we are not suggesting by any stretch that such approach by Easton is against any regulations or that Easton was underhanded. Clearly a stated drop 5 bat without a .50 BBCOR stamp isn’t allowed in highschool or the NCAA (or wherever else BBCOR is required). Easton simply made, as we see the drop 5 XL1 for 2014, a throwback drop 3 bat in the drop 5 little league category. And, if you can swing it, that bat is a beast.
In our opinion: well played Easton. Well played.
Bat #3: Easton Omen
The kids swinging these bats are smart. The Omen is a pre-“Accelerated Break-In” (ABI) testing period bat. This means this two-piece full composite bat can have, over time, more trampoline effect than bats made after the implementation of the test (e.g. MAKO, XL, S Series bats of 2014).
You can think of the Omen as the XL’s daddy. Easton left the Omen name in the dust and translated it into the XL series in the Power Brigade Seires. It is one of the top 5 youth baseball bats off all time. You hit this bat correctly in the sweet spot at full extension and its the last thing that baseball will ever do–with the exception of sink to the bottom of the ocean.
It will be interesting to see how long Little League allows the Easton Omen bat at the plate because, in our opinion, it is clearly a bat with a trampoline effect better than the others in this list. I suspect the Omen’s time is limited.
Bat #4: Easton S1
I have yet to get a good screen grab of the S Series bats in the LLWS, but this is sort of what it looks like. The dominant color is black with the yellow highlights.
The S1 is the opposite side of the swing weight spectrum from the XL in the Power Brigade Series. It has a more handle loaded swing compared to a balanced swing of the MAKO and the end load (or overload?) of the XL. The S1 is the two-piece composite, s2 the hybrid and the S3 the one piece aluminum. We are big fans of the 2012 through 2014 S1–especially in the youth and senior league versions. The S2 and S3 are okay but nothing, in our opinion, to get too excited about.
Bat #5: ???????
Easton does a pretty good job of letting those who make some of the Marquee games on ESPN and ABC be the first in the country to swing the youth versions of the 2015 Easton Line. There is a new 2015 S Series, XL Series, MAKO series and the much hyped MAKO TORQ.
There has never been as much hype around a bat as there is around the TORQ. Searches on Google Analytics show the TORQ roughly 10 times more popular than any other newly released bat this year. Almost the same multiple as its price point.
We are waiting with baited breath to see if some kid at the LLWS gets to the plate with a neon green bat with a spinning handle. If he’s smart the kid will keep the wrapper on the bat, sell the bat on e-bay, put the proceeds in a simple interest bearing account and consider his college education paid for.
The first person to tweet @justbatreviews a screen grab of the MAKO TORQ at the plate in the 2014 Little League World Series will get a lizard skin grip sent to them courtesy of whatproswear.com and justbatreviews.com. How is that for keeping your readers happy? You need to be following @whatproswear and @justbatreviews for us to direct message the confirmation of your winning! Good luck.
Also, anyone in the comments want to take a guess as to who is in the lead picture?