Best Baseball Bats: What are they?
The most popular type of baseball bats used nowadays are the aluminum baseball bats. They have been around since the early 20th century when the first aluminum bats were made. Aluminum is stronger than steel and lighter than wood. It’s lightweight makes it easier to handle while still being strong enough to provide good control over your swing. These types of bats are usually called “lightweight” or “microbats”.
There are other types of bats, but these are the most common ones. There are also composite baseball bats which combine different materials into one bat such as carbon fiber, Kevlar, etc… These types of bats may weigh less than traditional aluminum bats but their durability is not as great. Composite bats tend to break down quicker and don’t last as long in use due to their weaker construction.
Another type of bat is the “heavy duty” or “stiff” baseball bat. These bats are made from harder materials like stainless steel, titanium, and even diamond. Their strength is comparable to those of traditional wooden bats.
Heavy duty bats can be very expensive and require special equipment to play with them properly.
Some players prefer using plastic baseball bats because they’re lighter weight than metal ones and easier to grip. Plastic bats are often cheaper too! However, some experts say that plastic doesn’t offer the same protection as metal or composite baseball bats.
Best Wood Bats
Many experienced players still prefer using traditional wooden baseball bats over any other type of bat. Their reasons include the fact that they’re easier to grip, they’re more comfortable to use, and they feel “slower” to the swing. This is because wooden bats have more “pop” than metal or composite bats.
Some of the best wood bats come from Pennsylvania. Today, most wood used to make baseball bats is harvested from Virginia, but some people still prefer the old-growth trees of Pennsylvania. When shopping for a wood bat you should try to get one made out of ash because it’s the lightest and most durable wood.
Best Bats For High School
If you’re playing in a high school league then you’ll most likely be using a metal or composite bat. Composite bats are the most popular choice among high school and college players for several reasons. First of all, metal bats can be dangerous in inexperienced hands so composite bats reduce the chance of causing serious injury to another player.
Second of all, metal bats are much louder than composite and wooden bats. The loud noise can disturb residents in neighboring houses if a game is being played in a suburban or urban area. This is a big concern for high schools that have recently been built in newer neighborhoods. Finally, metal bats can be very expensive so most high school players don’t want to spend $300 on a bat when they might not even be good enough to play at the college level. This is also why most college players still use metal bats despite the fact that composite bats perform much better. College coaches just can’t afford to buy all their players $300+ bats!
Most high school leagues use -17 to -23 rubberized baseballs or possibly a hardball.
Best Bats For College
If you make it to college then you’ll most likely be using a metal bat. Most college coaches believe that metal bats are preferable for the simple fact that they’re more consistent from one game to another. Wood is a natural substance and it can be affected by the weather which makes each bat unique.
Some days a wood bat might be extremely hard to swing and on other days it might be easier. Metal bats don’t have this problem and most coaches feel this consistency is helpful for developing players.
The only difference between a metal bat used in high school and one used in college is the size of the barrel. The metal bats used by college players have larger barrels than their high school counterparts. For example, a -11 high school bat is comparable to an -18 college bat.
Metal and Composite Bats
The main advantage that metal and composite bats have over wooden bats is that they can be used over and over again. A good quality baseball bat should last for many seasons if it’s taken care of properly. Composite bats perform better than their metal counterparts but they’re also more expensive.
Metal and composite bats are also safer to use than wooden bats. Wooden bats can shatter or splinter if hit with a ball at the wrong angle. This is rare but it does happen.
The flexibility of wood also increases the likelihood that a baseball will be deflected when hit. Metal and composite bats don’t have these problems so there’s less risk of injury.
Metal and composite bats are also consistent. Every time a batter uses his bat it will perform more or less the same way it did the last time. This is less likely to happen when a wooden bat is used several times.
A wood bat can expand or contract when it gets wet or dry which affects its performance.
Fungus in a wood bat can weaken it to the point that it could break under stress. This isn’t likely to happen with composite or metal bats.
The main disadvantage of metal and composite bats is their cost. Although the price has come down quite a bit in recent years, they’re still more expensive than wooden bats. This isn’t much of a factor in recreational leagues that make up the majority of organized baseball but high school and college coaches are always looking for ways to keep their expenses down.
Another disadvantage is that metal and composite bats can’t be used anywhere near as long as wood. Even if they don’t break, their performance significantly declines after just a few hits. This means that metal and composite bats must be replaced much more often which adds to the overall cost of using them.
The advantage of metal and composite bats is that contrary to popular belief, they’re not much stronger than wood. A well made wood bat is just as strong as a metal or composite bat, it’s just that wood doesn’t last as long.
When wood bats do break they usually shatter into many pieces. When metal or composite bats break they usually just bend and this can sometimes allow a player to continue using the bat instead of having to get a new one.
Metal and composite bats aren’t allowed in high school and college baseball but they’re the standard in softball and are even starting to gain popularity in fastpitch softball. High school, college and even professional baseball is dominated by wood bats but metal and composite bats are making inroads into those markets as well.
Metal and composite bats can be used in the majors but there are restrictions. A metal or composite bat isn’t allowed to be more than -3 (one-third ounce) in terms of weight reduction compared to a normal wooden bat. So if a normal wooden bat weighs -5 then a metal or composite bat can’t weigh any less than -8.
I highly recommend wood bats. They’re cheaper in the long run and they don’t harm the integrity of the game.
I hope this information is helpful to you.
Daniel R. Miraglia
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Sources & references used in this article:
Warm-up with baseball bats of varying moments of inertia: Effect on bat velocity and swing pattern by D Southard, L Groomer – … for exercise and …, 2003 – shapeamerica.tandfonline.com
Dynamic and performance characteristics of baseball bats by FO Bryant, LN Burkett, SS Chen… – … American Alliance for …, 1977 – Taylor & Francis
Batting performance of wood and metal baseball bats by JJ Crisco, RM Greenwald, JD Blume… – Medicine & Science in …, 2002 – Citeseer
Using LS-DYNA to characterize the performance of baseball bats by TJ Mustone, JA Sherwood – 5th International LS-DYNA Users …, 1998 – researchgate.net