Great Lakes Bat Co. PRO GLB R2 Maple Bat Review – $99
The Great Lakes Bat Co is a new bat company that joined the scene in January 2017. While it’s no secret that the wood bat space has become crowded over the past 10 years, Great Lakes will have its hands full trying to separate themselves from the rest of the group. Offering more personalized service to hitters to ensure they are receiving the right turning model for their personal swing type is one of their goals. For them, it is all about using conversation to guide players through buying a wood bat and educating them on the different options they should be thinking about.
Their go-to-market mission is to “provide pro-quality bats to independent professional and elite amateur players at prices that are reasonable.” All of their wood is sourced from the Great Lakes region, mostly in upstate New York and Eastern Ohio. They offer pro-grade ash & maple as well as prime split maple, which allows for the wood to separate naturally along the grain and ultimately result in straighter grains. As far as turning model selection goes, according to one of the co-founders, Great Lakes has “a product lineup that has the familiar 110, 271, and 243 options, but it also has a number of hybrid options that combine the best features of some classic models to provide a great new model.” When choosing a size, they do offer half sizes as well if you find yourself in between a full inch. As of right now they do not have MLB certification, which means that their bats cannot be used in an MLB game.
The bat we tested is in fact one of their hybrid models, the PRO GLB R2, which consists of a 141 barrel on a 271 handle.
All of the Maple sent out by GLB will pass the MLB slope of grain test, which means that the tangential grain in the handle is no higher than 3 degrees. MLB instituted this rule for bat manufacturers in 2009 to help curb Maple & Birch bats from breaking into multiple pieces.
The R2 that I tested was turned using their pro maple.
Finish / Color
The particular sample that I have has a black handle with a flame tempered barrel dipped in a regular clear coat to seal everything. Flame tempering has traditionally been reserved for ash bats in the past, but recently many companies have experimented with using a flame on maple for a unique look. The bat looks sharp with the color combination. Overall, GLB offers flame hardened, black and clear for their barrel finishes and black or clear for the handle. They will flame ash handles only. While these can definitely provide a classic look, the lack of other available colors make the customization options slim compared to other companies.
Handle / Knob
The handle and knob of the R2 felt great in my hands when swinging. The flared knob transitions nicely into the modified 271 handle. It is a little thicker than the traditional 271 handle, to help offset the larger 141 barrel. Adding a little thickness to the handle will help even out swing weight and help towards preventing a broken handle when you take one off of the end during your drop-to-one-knee Beltre hacks. I would personally prefer a handle to be just a touch thinner, but overall I really liked swinging the R2.
When the ball was barreled up, the R2 performed pretty well. It had a solid crack and normal exit velocity after impact. As with most wood bats, as you get away from the sweet spot, performance drastically decreases and this bat is no different. As far as hardness, in my opinion I think there is room for improvement. This bat could benefit from a high end finish over the pro maple like many competitors have.
Swing Weight / Feel
The R2 falls somewhere in the middle of the swing weight scale. It has a nice feel to it, is fairly balanced, but also adds a little extra weight in the barrel to transfer into the ball. With a lot of really light wood bats, the hitter has to supply a lot of the power that is transferred into the ball. As you add more MOI into the barrel, it allows the bat to do a little bit more of the work as long as you can get it through the zone. Finding that balance for your swing is one of the critical elements to finding the right turning model.
Like most other maple bats, this R2 was pretty stiff on contact compared with ash or birch. Maple is generally only recommended for advanced hitters as it tends to be stiffer and less forgiving than other types of wood. A mishit with maple tends to equal firewood.
Overall the bat grades out as average to me. I don’t really have anything overly positive or negative to say about it. Without any features that set it apart from other companies, it makes for a tough sell. If anything, picking up a new bat from GLB would be a nice value play. Their pricing of $119 for split maple, $99 for pro maple (sawn) and $79 for pro ash comes in well below a lot of the bigger names in the industry. With that cheaper price also comes fewer customization options as well. If you are looking for a little more personalized conversation with your bat purchase and don’t want to drop $200, Great Lakes Bat Co may be an option for you. If you’re interested in learning more about them, visit their website, and you can find the PRO GLB R2 here.