If you love baseball and you play as a hitter for your team then you know how important a baseball bat is for your career. While purchasing a baseball bat you have many aspects in your mind including its size, material, brand, durability, vibration and general feel.
A large variety of baseball bats are sold in the market. They are usually made up of composite material, aluminum or wood. There are pros and cons to each one of these kinds.
Composite baseball bats
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Layers of reinforced carbon fiber polymer or composite material are used to construct composite baseball bats. Basically carbon, glass and kevlan fibers are mixed together using plastic resin.
In 1980s, these bats were first used in slow-pitch softball and were manufactured by companies like Louisville Slugger and Miken.
There are certain requirements that these composite bats must meet in order to be eligible for play in popular baseball leagues like NCAA and NFHS.
BBCOR (batted-ball coefficient of restitution) standard is the most commonly used restriction on these composite baseball bats. With BBCOR standards in place, the safety of the players is ensured.
Composite baseball bats can be in a single, two-piece or three-piece design. These bats become unusable if the temperature falls below 55 degrees.
1. Swing Weight is Lighter
Swing Weight is basically the weight a hitter feels while swinging a bat. In case of a composite baseball bat, their swing weight is much lighter as compared to aluminum or wooden bats.
Swing weight is also known as Moment of Inertia (MOI). It depends on the total weight of the bat and the time required swinging it.
As Composite bats are light in weight their swing weight is lighter as well.
2. Trampoline effect can be adjusted
Trampoline effect describes the phenomenon of bat-ball collision. It determines how fast the ball bounces back from the bat.
Trampoline effect depends on the elasticity of the barrel. The stiffer the barrel is, the slower the baseball bounces back.
This effect is greater in composite bats as the stiffness of these bats can be manipulated. Manufacturers are able to construct stiffer handles with softer barrels.
3. Lesser Sting
When the ball hits the sweet spot of the bat it produces a certain vibration. This vibration causes a “sting” feeling in the hands of the players. With composite bats, this sting is minimized.
Composite material is considered more forgiving.
4. Wider sweet spot
There are different definitions for sweet spot. Generally sweet spot is that area on the barrel which produces the highest batted-ball speed.
Each bat has its own sweet spot. Composite bats are known to have wider sweet spots.
5. Pop sound
Unlike wood or aluminum bats, baseball bats have a “pop” sound. This pop isn’t as allowed as the ping from an aluminum bat. It’s more of a thud sound.
1. Unusable in Cold Temperature
As mentioned above, Composite bats are rendered useless in extremely cold temperatures. They become prone to cracking and are therefore not allowed to use below a certain temperature.
2. Player safety might be compromised
The trampoline effect is greater on composite bats which enables the ball to bounce back at a faster speed. Although this feature is desired, yet it causes issues for player safety.
When balls approach at a fast speed, players become more vulnerable to injury.
3. Break-in period
Most composite bats require a certain break-in period until they can be used for play in baseball leagues. This is somewhat a disadvantage as you cannot use your bat straight out of the wrapper.
Aluminum baseball bats
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As the name suggest, Aluminum baseball bats are made up of Aluminum. Sometimes mixed with other Alloys, Aluminum bats are amongst the mostly used baseball bats.
The cost of these bats usually depends upon the quality of aluminum used. Manufacturers use a variety of alloys to prepare the best ones.
1. Faster swing speed
Aluminum bats are known to have lower moment of inertia which means you swing your bat at a faster pace. This also translates into a lower swing weight.
2. Trampoline effect
Because these bats are light and flexible they have a greater trampoline effect. With your aluminum bats you can achieve higher speeds and more power.
3. Wider sweet spot
Research has shown that aluminum bats have wider sweet spots. When the ball hits these bats they make a “ping” sound.
4. Durable and No break-in required
Aluminum bats are considered to be the most durable. They will not break or crack. You can use these bats in any temperature.
Unlike composite bats, aluminum bats don’t need to be broken in. They are hot out of the wrapper and can be used right away.
As compared to wood and composite bats, aluminum bats are inexpensive.
1. Aluminum bats are usually stiff as compared to their composite counterparts.
2. They have greater vibration and more sting especially from miss hits.
Wood baseball bats
Wood baseball bats are prepared using a variety of wooden species. These include maple, birch, bamboo and ash.
We will look into each category of these wooden bats one by one and will provide their pros and cons.
1. Maple Bats
Used by Pros, Maple bats are the strongest as compared to other wooden bats. Maple is the hardest type of wood with tightest grains that are least visible.
Maple bats are the stiffest amongst all and therefore they give you the extra power. The ball covers greater distances with these bats.
It gives the loudest “pop” sound and feels like you are crushing the ball. Maple bats not only function great but they look amazing as well.
They are more durable thanks to their tighter grains. These bats are recommended for professionals and experienced players.
Novice or unskilled players cannot use maple bats. Although these bats are strongest yet they are the most rigid – offering least flex. They are very heavy and extremely dense.
The sweet spot on maple bats is shortest as well. Some think that maple bats are dangerous. This is quite a controversial debate and different views circulate in the baseball community.
2. Birch Wood Bats
For anyone who is new to wooden bats, a yellow birch bat is highly recommended. These bats are generally used for training purpose as well. Birch bats fall in between the maple and ash wood bats.
These bats have the strength of maple bats but with some flex as well. They are not as rigid as maple bats. If you are a first time hitter or you fall in the category of miss-hitters then this is the perfect option for you.
Cons are similar to that of maple bats. Additionally these bats require some break-in until they are ready for play.
3. Ash Wood Bats
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Ash Wood bats are made up of Ash Wood which is the lightest form of wood used in manufacturing of wooden bats.
These bats are light in weight with greater flex and more trampoline effect. They have a wide sweet spot which is great for hitters.
Ash wood bats are forgiving. You get increased bat speed.
They have visible grains which make it look more natural.
If you are someone who is looking for stiffness and rigidity then this bat isn’t for you.
4. Bamboo Bats
Bamboo bats are made from bamboo strips that are pressed together in order to form a billet. These bats are very similar to wood bats in looks as well as in performance.
These bats are stronger and more durable than other wooden bats. They also have a light swing weight. These are used in batting cages for practice purposes.
Bamboo bats are prohibited in MLB leagues.
5. Composite wood bats
Composite wood bats are a blend of wood and composite material. They are unlike natural wood cut bats and are therefore different in properties from traditional wooden bats.
They are known for their durability. They are good for players who are shifting to wooden bats. They have all the advantages that a wooden bat has.
There are certain requirements with bats that must be met before using them for play. BBCOR certification is one such commonly used requirement that is mandatory for many leagues.
Now that we have given you an in-depth analysis of the pros and cons of composite, aluminum and wooden baseball bats, we hope that you will be able to make the right choice for your next league!