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26 Sep

Rawlings 2013 Youth and BBCOR Reviews

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.

They offer two high-end alloy models. The first is the 2013 Rawlings Velo (formerly 5150 Velo). It is a single-wall, one-piece stiff handle bat with a low swing weight (MOI). The difference between this and the Plasma is the material used, the Velo uses the newer 5150 alloy. Both the Velo and Plasma claim to have low swing weights. The Velo claims to be “at least 200 MOI. better than any competitor in a similar price range”.  While this is a better option over the Plasma for most, I believe there are better one-piece stiff handle alloy bats. This is Louisville’s bread and butter and I prefer the Omaha. The adult -3 model retails for $299.99.

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.

The 2013 Rawlings Machine incorporates a complicated mess of a strategy. I will do my best to explain it. The Adult BBCOR model (blue) is a two-piece hybrid bat that is fused together to appear as a one-piece bat. Sound familiar, yes that was the premise of the ill-fated Louisville H2 which died a lonely death a few years back. What’s worse is this Machine model has a flex handle! Wow, seems like they’re doing their best to fail. The X-Treme composite flex handle is “fused” with a 5150 alloy barrel and a balanced MOI. The Senior and Youth models (green) are a true one-piece design made with 100% X-Treme composite and a flex handle. It also has a balanced swing weight. They say the handle has 50% more flex than the alloy bats. So the complicated mess is they’re saying our composite BBCOR bats suck and we’ll get rid of them with no explanation. We’ll put out models with the same name and different designs and pretend they are the same bat. If I didn’t know any better I’d say Homer Simpson is running this company. Stay away from the Machine. If you want a one-piece composite go with the Louisville Z-100, a two-piece hybrid go with the Easton S2. The BCCOR costs $299.99, the Senior $249.99 and the Youth $199.99

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Machine
BBCOR hybrid and Youth composite basebal bat.
Brand: Rawlings
Manufacturer: Rawlings
Model: Machine

Filed under: Rawlings Bats — admin @ 2:03 pm

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