Bigger Isn’t Always Better

I always have to shake my head when I see orders come through the system for a 31” 243 or when I get a call from a player or parent wanting to know what model has the biggest barrel. Truth be told, especially people new to wood bats, bigger barrel bats usually aren’t the best option and will result in flaws in your swing.

Viper Bats Man Sized Bat!

Viper Bats Man Sized Bat!

The age group most guilty of this are the players just switching over from aluminum to wood bats for the first time. Besides being adamant about wanting a bat that is “-3” they also want something that is as big as their metal bat they’re used to swinging.  The problem with this is metals bats are designed specifically to be balanced while fitting in the BBCOR regulations. Basically, in a metal bat with technology the way it is, you can have a very balanced bat with a large barrel and ideal weight. That’s not an option with wood bats.

In a wood bat you’re going to get all the weight of the bat where the mass of it is so if you get a bat with an oversized barrel it’s going to be extremely end heavy, or end-loaded.  Yes, if you make solid contact with the ball you’ll get great pop, but the control and skill needed to make that contact is greatly increased. As a result of the imbalance, the barrel is really going to dip through the hitting zone if you don’t have enough strength. It’s also going to make it more difficult to catch up to faster pitching.

If you find yourself fouling off a lot of pitches you usually hit, it’s probably a good indicator the barrel is too big for you. Another good indicator that your barrel is too big is if you find yourself breaking a lot of bats. By nature, the big barrel bat is going to put a lot of extra tension on the handle during contact so if you make any contact what-so-ever on the end of the bat it’s going to result in a broken bat.

At the end of the day, unless you’re getting paid to play baseball, more often than not you’ll find more success at the plate with a more “balanced” bat. Even though the barrel on these models may not be as big as your model 243 or 174G, they all have respectable sized barrels that are more than capable of being used by power hitters. I’ll break down some of our more popular models below into 3 categories: contact, gap, and power.

Contact Hitters (Average Barrel): 271, 110, 175G, 280, 141, CUV26
Gap Hitters (Little bit bigger): 222, 271L, APV5, 318
Power Hitters (Large Barrel): 243, 174G, 73, CD61, JH9

Not that any of these models are bad, they just require a greater understanding of your swing and the type of hitter you are. People who get big barrel bats understand that they’re prone to breakage and accept that as a tradeoff for the bigger hitting surface. The other trade off with the big barrel bats is that you’re sacrificing your average for power numbers. Hopefully with this information you’ll be able to help find the right model for you to achieve your goals as a player and if you have any questions I’d be more than happy to help you answer them.

9 thoughts on “Bigger Isn’t Always Better

  1. Dave Parker

    I am an aging ball player (54) I am a contact hitter and have recognized to flaws in my swing lately. I am a contact hitter and hit to right field and am on top of the ball often. I think some of it may be bat speed I have been using a 34 uncertain on what type of turn. I am looking for a bat type that will propel the head of the bat through the zone quicker so I can get back to hitting line drives. If it can help me get under the ball even beter, but I am looking to line drives. What type of turn do you suggest?

    Best regards, Dave

    1. Chris Fine Post author

      Dave – have you ever tried a model 73 or 280? A lot of people like how the barrel gets through the zone with the big handle because it works as a counter-weight and propels the barrel through the zone just like you were looking for. They’re also models people like to choke up on so if you got it in 34″ and choked up a little it would effectively give you more control of the barrel.

    2. David Parker

      After reviewing your online descriptions of bats. I had come to the decision of a maple 175G 33 and placed an oder for 3. cant wait to receive them. What is you opinion of that selection?

  2. Matt Godusky

    Hey, Chris I have always used the viper 222, what is the difference between the 222 and the CUV26?



    1. Chris Fine Post author

      Matt – the biggest difference is 222 is probably going to be more top heavy and have a slightly larger overall barrel diameter. The sweet-spot on the CUV26 will be slightly longer (barrel reaches it’s max diameter quicker) but the max barrel diameter will be slightly smaller. The handles and knobs on both bats should be fairly similar and are standard knobs. If you’re happy with the 222 I’d stick with that.

  3. Brian

    I have been using a 243 and like the feel, barrel size and handle. I used a 271 at the end if the season and did like and have success with that model. Would a 271lL be a good “between model”. I also got a 174G but haven’t used it yet. I usually swing a 34″ but got that in a 33.5. Like the feel. What would you suggest as another alternative? I play over 40 baseball.

    1. Chris Fine Post author

      I think 271L is your best bet. It’s going to be the best of both worlds. You’ll get the barrel you need to drive a ball without sacrificing too much barrel control. It’ll also be a “harder” to break model than the 243 or 174G so you shouldn’t have to worry about it snapping if you’re out in front of a off-speed pitch.

  4. Jeff

    I’m new to wood, and made the very mistake you described in this article with my first order … bought the 243 to get the familiar aluminum bat barrel size. While I did ok with it, I just didn’t feel I was getting the bat through the zone with enough speed and control.

    After reading this article, I decided to try a Platinum-271, and it made a world of difference. Great bat!

    Thanks for the great article! Anyone want a gently used 243? :)


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