Affordable Gifts for the Baseball and Softball Players on Your List

Baseball giftsAs anyone who has purchased sporting goods and training tools for their kids can attest to, it can become an expensive ordeal. When the holidays come around, it allows you the chance to get your kids those tools that will help them get better and succeed and put something under the Christmas tree for them.

There are numerous affordable deals out there for parents looking to get some last minute shopping done, but what are the best?

Cannonball Warm Up Softball

One of the best things any baseball or softball player can do in the off season is continue to work on their arm strength. One of the affordable tools that will allow you to do this is the Cannonball Warm Up Softball. This ball can be used off a wall, eliminating the need to have another person present to play catch. Using this before playing catch with a baseball or softball will also make those balls feel lighter and allow you to get more zip on each throw.

Mizano Organizer BackpackMizuno Organizer 3 Backpack

When you look in the trunk of the athlete in your family, you will often be afraid of what you will find. From dirty socks and underwear to all their essential gear, everything will usually just be scattered around and hard to find. The Mizuno Organizer 3 Backpack is the solution to that problem. It has enough room to store all the essentials to compete and has room for other non-essential personal items.

Rawlings 5-Tool Foam Quick Hands Trainer

RAWLINGS 5-TOOL FOAM QUICK HANDS TRAINERWhen you watch players like Robinson Cano and Andrelton Simmons make amazing players with such ease on a nightly basis, the reason why they are able to do so is because they have soft hands. When you hear that expression, it doesn’t mean their hands are smooth, it means that their hands are quick and soft enough to absorb the ball whether it is an easy hop, or a nasty one.

There are too many baseball and softball tools and gear to even list here, but if you are looking to grab an item for the athlete in your family, these are all solid places to start.

Who Makes the Best Baseballs? Diamond or Rawlings or Wilson?

Sports can lead to many interesting creations. When one company develops a new tool, other companies try to keep up the competition and develop their own version of these tools. One of the most important tools in the sport of baseball is the actual baseballs. Many companies are now producing their own version of baseballs, but not all are made the same.

If you want to order baseballs for your next pickup baseball game, which brand should you look into? Who makes the best baseballs?

Diamond

Diamond SportsDiamond has been around for years and has been putting out quality baseballs for players of all ages. When Diamond-Sports construct their baseballs, they use the best materials available to them. Their “Professional League” ball is one of the most popular used in college baseball. It has a cushioned cork center with a premium leather cover. While other companies get more recognition, Diamond has dozens of models available to choose from.

Rawlings

RawlingsThe most recognizable name in baseball equipment is Rawlings. They are responsible for constructing baseballs for numerous leagues, events and organizations around the world, including Major League Baseball. Among the custom balls Rawlings has produced over the years include the “RLLB,” which is tournament grade for little league baseball; USSSA Tournament sanctioned balls and the “RSLL1” Senior Little League ball.  Another quality ball that Rawlings manufactures is the R1NCAA. This is the official ball of the NCAA championship. This ball was made with patented super stitch technology and full grain leather, which increases its lifetime and durability.

Wilson

Wilson Sporting GoodsWilson is another company that constructs different balls for different leagues. The Wilson A1075BPL1 is a ball that has incredible durability with raised seams that are 20 percent higher than flat seam baseballs. This allows for pitchers and fielders to get a better grip on the ball with each throw. The inside of the ball is grey wool and has a cushioned cork that gives the ball more energy during the contact of the bat and the ball.

With so many companies producing baseballs, Diamond, Rawlings and Wilson, are three of the best. They are the three most popular baseball manufacturers and produce the best quality balls every time.

 

Batting Gloves as Stocking Stuffers – You Bet!

Baseball Gloves for Stocking StuffersBatting gloves? The holiday season is the perfect time for baseball and softball players to stock up on new gear and accessories for the next season. With end-of-season clearance sales being held, there are numerous new items you can get at discounted prices for yourself or ask for on your holiday wish list.

For those looking to get baseball and softball related stocking stuffers, one of the best gift ideas would be batting gloves. What are some of the best batting gloves you can get for the athlete in your family?

Rawlings Workhorse

Rawlings WorkhorseRawlings is one of the most trusted names in softball and baseball gear and this pair of batting gloves is one of the best on the market. The leather is soft and provides ideal comfort when worn as it is more flexible than other brands. The Workhorse brand is the most popular in the line of Rawlings batting gloves for more than 12 years and would make for a great stocking stuffer.

Worth ToxicWorth Toxic batting gloves

Worth Toxic batting gloves provide a comfortable feeling as it was made with premium sheep leather. This leather gives you the best grip on the bat and helps you gain better control and maintain possession of the bat throughout your swing. It has a mesh backing, allowing your hand the chance to breathe.

Easton Stealth Core Batting GloveEaston STEALTH CORE

For those looking for the closest feel on their bat without going bare-handed, the STEALTH CORE is one of the best pair of batting gloves you can have to achieve that. This style of glove comes in 10 different color combinations and was made with Cabretta leather on the palm. This adult pair of gloves comes in sizes from small to XL.

DeMarini Versus

DeMarini Versus batting glovesSince DeMarini is one of the best bat manufacturers in the world for slowpitch softball players, you would expect them to put out quality products across the board. That is the case with fielding gloves and batting gloves. Among their best pair of batting gloves are the Versus, which are made in five sizes from small to XXL, come in three colors and feature a leather palm and a neoprene wrist strap.

We can recommend others and give you ideas where to get the best deals on batting gloves for stocking stuffers. Drop us a comment with your question!

2012 Rawlings BBCOR Baseball Bats – Velo, Machine

We have just seen and swung the new 2012 Rawlings Velo and Rawlings Machine BBCOR bats.

The 5150 stays in the 2012 lineup and remains unchanged from 2011. Rawlings is introducing the 5150 Velo, selling for $249.95 it is based on the 5150 Alloy, but comes with an upgraded end cap that takes away vibration and makes the bat feel more solid.

The Rawlings Machine BBCOR uses the 5150 alloy barrel but has a composite handle, making this $300 BBCOR the comfortable to swing, but also the most end loaded.

The good thing about the 2012 Rawlings BBCOR bats is they are all a little different, and you can tell the minute you hit them.

Here’s a quick break down of the 2012 Rawlings BBCOR bats:

Rawlings 5150 BBCOR – Model BBCA – $199

Rawlings 5150 Alloy BBCOR Bat

Rawlings 5150 Alloy BBCOR Bat

  • Same bat as 2011. No changes.
  • One piece all aluminum
  • Loud ping
  • Very balanced
  • A little bit of vibration, not much, but the most of all three of the bats
  • Has a hollow, almost golf club feeling when the ball is struck

 

Rawlings 5150 Velo BBCOR – Model BB51V – $249

Rawlings 5150 Velo BBCOR Bat

Rawlings 5150 Velo BBCOR Bat

  • New for 2012
  • One piece all aluminum
  • Nice ping sound, but not as loud as original 5150
  • Very balanced
  • Little to no vibration due to the new end cap
  • Feels more solid when the ball is hit

 

Rawlings Machine BBCOR – BBMC – $299

Rawlings Machine BBCOR Bat

Rawlings Machine BBCOR Bat

  • New for 2012
  • Composite handle with 5150 aluminum alloy barrel
  • Least ping sound of all, but sounds good
  • End loaded
  • No vibration
  • Feels great when hitting the ball

 

We enjoyed all three bats, but if I was going to buy one, it would be the Velo 5150. All the bats have the same “pop” and the Velo being balanced with pretty much no vibration makes it hard to beat.

What is the Best BBCOR Bat for 2013

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Check out as we update the list for 2013 BBCOR Baseball Bats

[poll id=”1″]The new BBCOR bats have brought in a new era of baseball bats.  Every bat manufacturer in the country seems to have a BBCOR bat offering, even the smaller bat makers like Marruci and Rip It have introduced a bat with the BBCOR Certification.

We hit every BBCOR bat on the market for three weeks straight at our batting cages.  Combined, we put in over 10,000 swings on these bats. It all came down to sting, vibration and balance of the bat. All BBCOR bats have a smaller barrel than their BESR counter parts. All BBCOR bats feel heavier because more weight is distributed to the end of the barrel.

Here is the ugly truth about BBCOR bats… The “pop” is almost indistinguishable between bats.  However, that is where the similarities end and the testing begins.

There were clear “winners” in the shootout. Not because one bat hit the ball further every time, but because one bat allows you to control the bat better and put the sweet spot on the ball more consistently. While they all hit the ball approximately the same distance, several bats had advantages in comfort and swingability that will ultimately help you be a better hitter.

How the bats differ: Vibration, Sound, Balance (more/less end heavy) and bat control.

One Piece BBCOR Bats:

  • Rip It Prototype 2TOP CHOICE – This BBCOR bat from Rip It was a pleasant surprise and proved to be the top dog in our testing. It hits as hard as any BBCOR on the market. It has good balance, little to no vibration and above average pop. The Rip It Prototype 2 has a VERY LOUD metal “ping”, almost to the point of hurting our ears. With the Rip It “Love it or we’ll buy it back” 30 day guarantee, you have nothing to lose with the Rip It BBCOR bat.
  • Marruci Cat 5 – TOP CHOICE (NOW BANNED in 33″/30oz) – The Marruci BBCOR bat is the lightest feeling bbcor on the market. The Cat 5 has ZERO vibration and swings very well. This bat is as good as the Easton Surge and Demarini Voodoo but sells for $100 less. Hit it and see for yourself.
  • Marucci Team Series – We have not swung the Marucci Team Series BBCOR yet. We will update the site the instant we do.
  • TPX Z1000 – The TPX Z1000 BBCOR is the most balanced bat in the group. Great pop and feel. No vibration at all.
  • TPX Omaha – The Omaha BBCOR bat has a nice grip and does not feel as heavy as other bats but there is a little sting and vibration on mis-hits.
  • Rawlings 5150 / Worth Toxic (Same bat, different name) – Surprisingly, this bat was our second favorite one piece BBCOR bat. It had good balance and very little vibration. The grip is nice and fat too.
  • Rawlings Velo 5150 – The difference between the Velo and the original 5150 is the end cap. For an extra $50 Rawlings will sell you a Velo with an upgraded end cap that actually does reduce vibration and ever so slightly extends the sweet spot.
  • Combat Backbone – A very good practice BBCOR bat but nothing we would ever use in a game. This bat is a great training tool, but do not fool yourself into thinking that this bat is for anything other than practice.
  • Combat B3 – The Combat B3 is another good BBCOR bat with very little vibration and good pop, but we do not like the price. For $50 less the Voodoo is just as good of a baseball bat.
  • Combat 52 CaliberMaybe all of us testers were having a bad day, but the 52 Cal from Combat was stinging our hands like crazy. We are going to retest soon… UPDATE: We swung the same Combat 52 Caliber again today and there was no vibration at all (Did it break in?). It feels similar to the B3AB but stiffer. It is balanced well and swings easy. No complaints here.
  • Combat Classic – This $199 100% composite BBCOR bat is the only minus 3 all composite bat under $349. If you are looking for a value priced 100% composite BBCOR, the Combat Classic is there to fill your need. It is fairly well balanced, but does have a small amount of vibration.
  • Worth Prodigy Legit – Very good bat here. Extremely similar to the Rawlings 5150. A small amount of vibration is felt when swinging, but is to be expected on a one-piece aluminum. Soft, fat grip is comfortable.

Two Piece BBCOR Bats

  • Marucci Black – TOP CHOICE -Marucci Black BBCOR swings pretty well. It is a little more end loaded than the Cat 5, but just barely, and Marucci is still calling the Black a balanced bat. The new AV5 harmonic dampening knob prevents almost all vibration. We had an extremely limited first go around with the new Marucci Black BBCOR, but we just got a 32″/29oz and 33″/30oz in stock to try out. We’ll do a much more in depth review shortly.
  • 2012 Demarini Voodoo – TOP CHOICE – The Voodoo baseball bat was at the top of the list for best BBCOR bat on the market. No vibration, balanced feel and a proven durable alloy. You can’t go wrong with the Demarini Voodoo.
  • 2012 Demarini Vexxum – The Vexxum hits just as hard as the Voodoo (it is made from the same metal after all), but it does have more vibration than a Voodoo BBCOR. If you have the extra $100 go for the Voodoo.
  • 2012 aston S1 – Easton has a winner with the S1 BBCOR. A smooth feel and no vibration to speak of help the Easton S1 rise to near the top of the pack of current bats for High School and College.
  • DeMarini M2M – Untested
  • Rawlings Machine – End loaded with a composite handle and 5150 alloy barrel. If you are a power hitter, and like an end loaded bat, we would suggest the Rawlings Machine.
  • Easton Surge – The Surge by Easton Mako Torq was at the top as well. Just like the Demarini Voodoo, the Easton Surge has zero sting/vibration while the light feel allowed us to swing and control the bat better in order to get the bat through the hitting zone. The Surge BBCOR is a great bat. If you are an Easton fan then this is the Easton BBCOR for you.
  • 2012 PX Exogrid –  TPX Exogrid is another good BBCOR. Aluminum barrel bats seem to be the winners so far in the BBCOR world. As is the case with the Z1000, the Exogrid has little to no vibration and great pop.
  • 2012 Demarini CF5 – Well balanced and great pop. If you love composite bats, the DeMarini CF5 is the baseball bat for you. Like all high end bats, the CF5 has zero vibration and excellent pop. The con is the bat tops out at $400. You will do just as well with a Voodoo at $100 less. When the CF5 goes on sale in April, 2012, you should pick one up.
  • 2013 DeMarini CF5 – Unchanged from 2012 aside from graphics.
  • 2013 DeMarini Voodoo – The composite handle remains unchanged from the 2012 Voodoo. The big change for the 2013 Voodoo BBCOR is a new X10 alloy in the barrel. The 2013 DeMarini Voodoo X10 alloy is stronger than the older, SC4 alloy, allowing DeMarini to make the walls even thinner, while still adhering to BBCOR standars.
  • 2013 DeMarini M2M – The M2M BBCOR gets the new, stronger X10 alloy (just like the  2013 Voodoo and 2013 Vexxum). Because the handle is metal, the 2013 M2M is stiffer and provides more feedback to the batter.
  • 2013 DeMarini Vexxum – For 2013, the Vexxum gets the new X10 alloy. Exclusive to DeMarini, the X10 alloy in the barrel is stronger and lighter than the 2012 SC4 alloy. Expect better balance, thinner walls and a small jump in performance from the 2013 DeMarini Vexxum BBCOR. Also, added for 2013 is the N2M end cap, which decreases vibration.
  • Combat Grifter – The Grifter from Combat has a small barrel, and you can tell just by looking at it. We are not impressed.
Check out our breakdown of the 2012 Easton Power Brigade BBCOR bats.
Special thank you to Home Run Park batting cages in Anaheim, CA for letting us use their 90 MPH batting cages to try out our BBCOR bats.