We’re continuing our series of examining baseball equipment by moving on to the 2018 Louisville Slugger Solo 618 review.
We like to offer some background on each of the companies that we’re reviewing.
So, let’s take a quick look at the brand’s history first.
Louisville is one of the oldest companies in the business. It started in 1884 when a local major league player named Pete Browning was mired in a slump.
A local furniture maker made a bat for Browning who was known as the “Louisville Slugger”.
It wasn’t until 1905 that the company took that nickname for their own product.
Since then, Louisville has been used by historic players like Honus Wagner, Ty Cobb, Babe Ruth, Lou Geherig, and Hank Aaron.
Current players using Louisville Sluggers include Carlos Santana, Trevor Story and Joey Votto.
When you purchase a bat with the Louisville brand on it, you can be confident that you’re buying from one of the best in the business.
Now that you know a little bit about the company’s history, we’d like to offer an in depth review using player feedback to evaluate where the 618 truly stands out and where it falls short.
2018 Louisville Slugger Solo 618 Review
- Light swing-weight
- Comfortable grip
- Lacks pop (common with USA standard)
- Slightly smaller barrel
The Good Of The Solo 618
The first compliment that you’ll find in most Solo 618 reviews is that the price is surprisingly low.
On the Baseball USA standard bats, you should expect to pay about $150-180 for the 618.
That’s reasonable when you consider it’s one of the best reviewed USA bats on the market.
|Solo 618 (-11)|
As far as the BBCOR version, you can expect to pay somewhere in the $200 range.
|Solo 618 (-3)|
Compared to the Axe Avenge ($400) and the Rawlings Quatro ($350), that’s a steal, especially considering every site with a Louisville Slugger Solo 618 review has listed it as one of the best BBCOR baseball bats (I mean 2018 editions).
Like most of the modern bats that you’ll find the Solo 618 is made in multiple models.
Most importantly, you’ll find that the 618 complies with the new USA bat standard and has the sticker prominently displayed so that there is no doubt.
Many of the players that I’ve talked to said that this bat feels lighter than it is. That is because Louisville uses a specialized SL alloy.
They’ve also got what they call a “Speed Ballistic end cap”. These are designed to feel lighter which increases swing speed.
This is significant because the new USA standards limit how much “pop” a bat can have.
By increasing swing speed, Louisville is trying to minimize the difference with the new USA standards.
Given that the 618 is a single-piece construction, you would expect that the sting on a mishit would be pretty significant.
Surprisingly, most hitters that I talked to found that the sting was reasonable, even on a bad hit.
There will, obviously, always be some sort of vibration on a bad hit.
Most players that I’ve talked to said that they found the grip to be very comfortable as well.
Even the players who don’t use batting gloves found the lizard skin tape used on the 618 to be more comfortable than most of the other bats.
The thick Lizard skin tape is key to helping to balance out the thin handle.
Given that the USA standard makes most of these bats pretty similar, a good grip is key in make the 618 stand out against the competition.
Low Moment Of Inertia
Another key benefit to having the 618 is that it has an incredibly low moment of inertia.
Without getting into a full physics lesson, the moment of inertia is rotational force needed to move the bat.
The single-piece construction, ballistic end cap and -11 weight all create a light swing weight which plays a key role in the 618 offering such a light swing weight.
The Bad Of The Solo 618
There really aren’t many complaints about the 618.
Like most other Louisville Slugger bat reviews, the reviews for the 618 have been very complimentary.
Some parents will complain that the bat is too popular.
I’ve had a few parents complain about durability, but that seems to be few and far between.
Lack Of Pop
I’ve received a number of complaints about the pop of this bat.
The reality is that the complaint about “pop” isn’t about the 618 as much as it is about the new USA standard. However, I wanted to address it.
A number of people (players and parents alike) are complaining that the bat doesn’t have much pop.
The lack of pop comes from the new USA rules. In fact, making the pop disappear is literally what the new USA standard is designed to do.
A competition committee determined that the composite bats were becoming dangerous and decided to create new rules.
So, the new standard was created and all bats are going to have similar action a wooden bat.
While the complaint about the 618 lacking pop is valid, it’s something that is happening across the board with all brands and all models as the new rule is preventing the pop most recent bats have had.
It’s something that young players are going to have to adjust to, and they’re going to have to learn to create power themselves rather than depending on a bat to create power for them.
The one true issues that I’ve heard a number of parents and players, alike, complain about is that the barrel seems to run small with the 618.
Most players say that they can’t really see a significant difference. But, there have been a few who have said they don’t like the barrel size; that they feel like they get cheated.
It’s a bit of a debate, but there are enough people with the complain that it seems like it’s worth mentioning.
There are always some issues that come down to personal preference. Composite bats that offered special pop were good. A bat that allows too much vibration is bad.
But customizing your bat is completely up to preference. So, we wanted to offer a special section to discuss that.
The 618 is a one-piece alloy bat. You can still find composite bats and hybrid bats with a USA certification. So, it’s truly a preference.
For younger players, I believe that the one-piece bats are the way to go. They do allow for a bit more sting on a mishit, but I find that to be a good thing.
This offers true feedback to a player and should help them improve their swing.
The one-piece construction also forces young players to develop their own power.
With a one-piece model, a singles hitter is a singles hitter.
Typically, with a one-piece, power comes from swing speed, so a good hitter can take advantage of the light weight and the technology used to help with swing speed.
Something else that I’ve found interesting with the new 618 model is that you’re able to customize the knob of your bat.
It’s not something that I’ve seen very often, but it’s something I’ve heard as a positive from a number of parents.
You can have Louisville add text, a picture, or a logo to the knob of your bat.
It doesn’t sound like a significant change, but this can be a great benefit.
There are a lot of bats when you go to a tournament. Kids have their own bats and coaches provide bats for their teams.
Having a bat that has your child’s name or picture on the end of the knob can really help in making sure that it never gets lost.
It’s not something that makes this bat great, but it’s a nice added feature.
Finally, the handle of the bat is something that may turn some players off. The handle is a bit thicker than other bats.
This may make it difficult for younger players to handle, however, it does offer them the ability to choke up.
I personally like the idea of the handle being a bit bigger as it offers the ability for a young player to grow into the bat rather than having to purchase a bat every year.
That is, with the thick handle, a player can choke up. As the player gets bigger, the bat will feel more comfortable in a player’s hand.
As always, we try to offer the best advice based on the experience of the players and parents that we talk to.
Based on the feedback that we’ve gotten throughout the season, we’d have to say this is one of the best youth baseball bat options on the market.
Overall, the positives easily outweigh the negatives.
If you’re a Louisville Slugger fan, we definitely prefer the 618 over the 918.
You can easily compare these bats by reading our Prime 918 review.
We’d Love To Read Your Solo 618 Reviews
Thank you for reading our review. Have you tried the 618? Has your experience been similar to what we’ve described above?
We’d love to hear your opinion.