Here are reviews of the 2013 lineup of Rawlings youth and BBCOR baseball bats, including the Plasma, Velo, 5150 and Machine. Does Rawlings have a man crush on Louiville and are trying to emulate them because of this? Read on…
Rawlings has come a long way to make itself credible over the last few years. This is primarily due to the University of South Carolina baseball team winning back to back college world series titles with their bats. Guess I can no longer refer to them as the Rodney Dangerfield of baseball bats. They actually are getting some respect!
They are owned by K2 (the ski company) that also owns the Worth brand. So I’m sure a lot of the technology is shared between their baseball bats.
Rawlings approach to meeting BBCOR standards is different than other manufacturers. The others use rings or inserts in the barrel to deaden the pop to meet the standard. Rawlings thins out the lower portion of the bat, then makes it thicker as it got to the sweet spot, and then thins it out toward the end of the bat. They explain it this way: “the unique feel offered by Rawlings’ BBCOR bats is made possible through Precision Optimized Performance (pOp) Barrel Technology that isolates extra weight to a smaller region of the bat, translating into extra swing speed”. This doesn’t seem to be working as they’re having problems with their 100% composite BBCOR bats. Here’s an example, they do not have a 100% composite BBCOR bat for 2013! The 2012 5150 composite is gone and there is no replacement.
Even with their new found credibility Rawlings still faces challenges in the marketplace. First, they had offered three variations of the 5150 series bats in the past which was confusing. Players didn’t know what the difference was between them without a lot of investigation. They seemed to have fixed it this year by taking the 5150 name off of the Velo and dumping the 5150 composite. Another problem is the lack of use in youth and High School baseball where it is rarely seen. Again, this may change due to the success at the college level but it will take years. They’re also having trouble gaining acceptance of their 100% composite models. Case in point, dumping the 5150 composite and the fact that it wasn’t used much by the Gamecocks in the CWS.
Here’s what Rawlings is offering for 2013:
In the low-end alloy category is the 2013 Rawlings Plasma. It features a one-piece construction made with their older Plasma alloy, a stiff handle and a low swing weight. In my opinion this is only an option if you love Rawlings and are a young player. The BBCOR model costs $119.99 which is extremely low.
The second is the 2013 Rawlings 5150 Alloy. Also a single-wall, one-piece bat with a stiff handle and the 5150 alloy. So what’s the difference between this and the Velo? It’s the swing weight and the price. The 5150 has a balanced swing weight compared to the Velo’s low swing weight and the 5150 costs $100 less! Essentially they’re targeting contact hitters with the Velo and power hitters with the 5150. Again, I’m hard pressed not to go with Louisville when looking at a one-piece bat with a stiff handle. The BBCOR model retails for $199.99.