Bat Weight: What Is It?
Bat weight is a measurement of how heavy a ball is. A heavier ball means it’s going to travel further. For example, if your favorite team plays against another team and they have a .400 hitter versus your favorite team’s .300 hitter, then the batter will need to get more loft on his swing or else he’ll miss the pitch. If the ball weighs less than the batter needs to reach base, then he’ll make contact and score a run.
The average home run weighs around 50 pounds. That’s why when you see a player like Bryce Harper go up to bat, he’s wearing No. 44—that number represents his batting average at Class AA Harrisburg last season (and yes, he was actually the only member of the Nationals’ top-10 in homers).
But what does that mean exactly?
Bryce Harper is wearing No. 44 because his batting average at Class AAA Syracuse last year was .444, which made him the fourth-best prospect in all of minor league baseball. When he came up from Syracuse, he weighed 195 pounds; now he weighs 205 pounds. So while his batting average has increased slightly, his body mass index (a measure of fatness) hasn’t changed much. And that’s good! Because power hitters are supposed to be big and strong, but not so much fat that they can’t move around the bases.
Most scouts agree that a player’s weight should increase over the course of his career. It takes time for their bodies to fill out, as well as time to learn to hit major-league pitching. But what they don’t want to see is a player getting “soft.” For example, none of the following players ever made it to the majors:
Dave Hilton, 1B (Indians, 1965-71)
Davey Johnson, 2B (Expos, 1965; Giants, 1966)
Jim King, OF (Padres, 1968)
Tommy Whiteman, 3B (Mets, 1970)
Ken Henderson, 1B (Giants, 1971)
Garry Templeton, SS (Cardinals, 1973)
Toby Harrah, SS (Rangers, 1973)
These are all great, great players; Templeton was even a Hall of Famer. And yet, because they weighed less than 190 pounds, they were never considered for the Hall of Fame.
What does that tell you about weight and hitting?
It tells you that you don’t want to be too light. The heavier you are, the stronger your hitting arm will be. The heavier you are, the farther you will hit a ball. For example, there have been no small players among baseball’s top 10 home-run hitters:
Barry Bonds (6x)
Alex Rodriguez (3x)
Jimmie Foxx (once)
Mark McGwire (once)
Ken Griffey, Jr. (once)
Sammy Sosa (once)
Jim Thome (5x)
Troy Glaus (once)
Manny Ramirez (once)
Frank Thomas (3x)
Weight also matters because it affects your running speed. A slugger like Bonds or Sosa wouldn’t be able to run as fast as a guy like Rickey Henderson or Tim Raines, who weighed less.
Sources & references used in this article:
Correlations for weight, height and two measures of batting performance by L Hamburg, TM Hines – Perceptual and motor skills, 1999 – journals.sagepub.com
The allocation of weights in the calculation of batting and bowling performance measures by HH Lemmer – South African Journal for Research in Sport …, 2007 – ingentaconnect.com
Factors affecting the thermal insulation and abrasion resistance of heat resistant hydro-entangled nonwoven batting materials for use in firefighter turnout suit thermal … by RL Barker, RC Heniford – Journal of engineered fibers and …, 2011 – journals.sagepub.com
Batting by FC Lane – 2001 – books.google.com
Quantifying the pressure on the teams batting or bowling in the second innings of limited overs cricket matches by D Bhattacharjee, HH Lemmer – International Journal of …, 2016 – journals.sagepub.com
Effect of different types of cricket batting pads on the running and turning speed in cricket batting by N Loock, DE Du Toit, DJL Ventner… – Sports biomechanics, 2006 – Taylor & Francis
Baseball’s all-time best sluggers: Adjusted batting performance from strikeouts to home runs by MJ Schell – 2005 – books.google.com