From the outside, a baseball bat might look simple and straightforward. However, there is a lot more that goes on behind the scenes. Baseball bats are made under strict regulations and should conform to international standards. The most common types of baseball bats are wooden and metal. If you are someone planning to purchase one, you should be aware of the differences.
History of Baseball Bats
Over the years, baseball bats have become more refined. During the mid-19th century, the batters were known to whittle or shape the bats using their hands, which allowed them to create a wide variety of bats varying in terms of sizes, weights, and shapes. For instance, there were short bats, round bats, and fat bats. As compared to the bats you see today, the earlier bats used to be heavier and larger. The same mid-19th century went through several baseball experimentations that led to the uniform and refined design we see today.
Factors to consider while purchasing a baseball bat
When it comes to selecting the right baseball bat, there are several things you need to consider. The first is that you need to ensure that the bat you use, conforms to the governing bodies of bats. For instance, the USABat prefers more wood-like bat performance in youth bats while allowing the players to use lightweight models as well.
The second important factor is the length of the bat. An appropriate length can affect the swing and performance. If it is too long, it will compromise the swing mechanics. However, if it is too short, you will miss the strike.
And perhaps the most important factor is weight. An ideal bat should be in accordance with how you feel. If you feel that the bat feels heavy while swinging, you should opt for something else. Try holding the bat with an extended arm for 30 to 45 seconds. If your arm becomes tired, it means the bat is heavy. Therefore, you should opt for a bat that has a greater drop weight. The greater the drop weight, the lighter the bat.
Materials and Manufacture: Wooden and Metal Bats
Both wood and metal alloy (typically aluminum) happen to be the most common manufacturing materials used when it comes to baseball bats. Although most wooden bats are made from ash, several other types such as hickory, maple, and bamboo are used.
However, the use of Hickory has fallen over the years due to its greater weight resulting in slowing down the bat speed while its counterpart maple wood gained popularity. The maple wood-made baseball bats gained fame particularly at the first major league’s introduction in 1997. Joe Carter was the first player to use the bat followed by Barry Bonds who broke baseball’s single-season home run record in 2001. Then, in 2007 he broke the career home record as well.
In 2010, maple bats were experiencing a lot of complaints about shattering. This made Major League Baseball examine their decision and use about banning certain models in minor leagues. When it comes to manufacturing baseball bats, the manufacturers paste the label on technically the weakest area of the wood.
Furthermore, the bat is designed in such a way that the label either faces the ground or sky while reducing fracture chances and maybe delivering more energy to the ball during a horizontal swing. This way, the chances of a bat breaking are comparatively less and are stiffer as well.
In addition to that, bats made of wood will shatter differently. For instance, bats made of ash will have labels placed where the grain spacing tends to be the widest. Meanwhile, for maple bats, the labels will be positioned where the grain is tightest.
Moreover, maple bats were known to shatter in a way that could potentially result in many sharp edges. As a result, the probability of the players getting injured was high. This led to Major League Baseball working with maple bat manufacturers to come up with a refined solution. The process gave birth to an ink spot test that would confirm the safest wood grain orientation.
According to the reports of the sporting good stores, the maple bats were replacing ash as the most popular baseball bats in the United States. However, bamboo was gaining pace as well since it featured greater strength, more isotropic fine grain, and weighing comparatively less than other bats.
Today, players can set up their own bat profiles depending on the league standards. Back in the day, precise calibration points were used along with hand-turning the bats from a template. Today, the manufacturers utilize a fixed metal plate by using machine-turning. Historically, significant and important templates would be kept in a vault. This trend has become quite popular today as well.
Advantages of Wooden Baseball Bats
A well-made wooden baseball bat outperforms any metal bat in any category. If the bat is properly balanced, it will give the batter more stability and control while striking.
In addition to stability and control, the unique combination of wooden bats offers a balance of density and pop that cannot be matched with metal bats. If a player was to strike good with a wooden bat, the hit will go faster and farther as compared to the hit with a metal bat.
Advantages of Metal Baseball Bats
Some experts suggest that metal baseball bats are somewhat a cheat as they offer an enlarged sweet spot. If you happen to have a bigger sweet spot, you tend to have a larger optimal area to hit the ball with. This would result in big hits but not quality big hits.
In addition to that, metal bats can withstand hits farther down the barrel comparatively better than wooden bats. In the case of wooden bats, they would simply shatter or fracture. However, if you are using a metal bat, such hits would hardly affect it.
The Rawlings Raptor & Remix Youth USA Tball Bat is made for entry-level players. It offers a perfect combination of power and control. It also comes with a larger sweet spot that makes it easy for the players to swing. And since the bat is lightweight and made from alloy, it offers consistent performance as well.
- Made from alloy
- Offers power and control
- Larger sweet spot
The Rawlings Raptor USA Youth Baseball Bat offers a quick bat speed due to its ultra-lightweight. It also features a maximized sweet spot and offers a smooth swing thanks to its X-Tended Sweetspot. Lastly, it is made from responsive and durable alloy that allows the players to stand out in the field.
- Durable alloy
- Quick swing and speed
3. Wilson Sporting Goods Louisville Slugger Genuine Series 3 Ash Mix Baseball Bat, 32 inch/29 oz, Black/Natural
The Louisville Slugger Genuine Series, 3 Ash Mix Baseball Bat, is made from a split black and natural finish. It is has been manufacturing using the mixed-turning technique with a regular finish. Furthermore, the bat has been made with the strict assurance that it does not contain any flaws or shortcomings.
- Split black and natural finish
- Extremely fine manufacturing
The Louisville Slugger K100 Ash Wood Fungo Bat is made from Northern White Ash and built using a foam core. These bats are ideal for coaches who tend to hit a lot of fly balls along with ground balls. These bats offer more speed with a lighting swing and distance due to their end-weight design and lighter weight.
- K100 turning model
- Natural finish
- Performance grade ash
There was a time when wood and metal bats were not that refined. Today, the wooden baseball bats are designed to perform like metal bats, which is what we see today. Depending on the leagues and players, some might choose to play with wooden bats while others with alloy. All the hype and success around alloy metal bats will surely make them even more popular in the long run.