Deciding on the length and weight of the bat you swing is a personal choice - you should try combining what is comfortable with what style of player you want to be. If you envision yourself being a contact player like Ichiro Suzuki, you won’t worry as much about losing inertia with your swing, but if you want to be a power hitter like Giancarlo Stanton and swing for the fences, you’ll want the inertia you would get from the shorter, heavier bat. You can refer to the chart below to give you a ballpark idea of what bat drop you should be using. Keep in mind that the chart below can be used to find bat drop for both baseball and softball bats and it can be used by both adult and youth players:
Little League 1 1/4" Baseball Bats
Pony League2 5/8" Baseball Bats
High School/College 2 5/8" Baseball Bats
Fastpitch 2 1/4" Softball Bats
Recent Changes to Bat Sizes and Regulations
Recent rule changes in most leagues have been adopted in an attempt to make the game safer and more competitive. For this reason, new safety standards have been issued to new bats and they are expected to be used by every player.
Little League has a list of approved bats that can be used. This list is created by Little League, however it is only a guide for which bats are legal. There are times when a bat will not appear on the Little League approved-list but still will be considered legal. According to Little League, a bat “shall not be more than thirty-three inches in length nor more than two and one-quarter inches in diameter.”
Big Barrel Bats for Pony Leagues
Pony leagues require players to use a bat with the USSSA stamp. Almost all new bats, whether aluminum or composite, will come with this stamp. Some leagues may not allow bats that do not have the stamp. In recent years, the USSSA stamp has been modified and certain leagues will only allow bats to be used that contain the new stamp.
Be sure to check your Pony League bat rules before purchasing a bat that may not be legal to use. Pony bat barrels can range from two and one-quarter inches in diameter to two and five-eighths. If it is the latter and has a -3 weight drop, it must have a BBCOR certified stamp (below). All non-wood bats that have a Bat Performance Factor (BPF) of 1.15 or less are approved for play.
High School and College Bats
High school and college bats now have to be BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) Certified. This new measurement standard replaces the old BESR (Bat Exit Speed Ratio) Certification. Look for the stamp on the right indicating certification.
The new standard is designed to measure the trampoline effect of the bat and ball on impact, rather than just the exit speed of the ball. This allows the bats to be more comparable to wood bats.
We should point out that you may not want to use a BBCOR bat unless you are required to, as it will put you at a disadvantage of not hitting the ball as far as you could with a bat that does not carry the BBCOR restriction. High school and college bats should have a league-required -3 weight drop.
Fastpitch and Slowpitch Softball Bats
The league you play in will determine which bat regulations you should adhere to when purchasing a softball bat. It is best to check your league before purchasing a bat since ASA bats are not allowed in USSSA play, and vice-versa, unless it contains a dual stamp.