Anyone who knows anything about baseball knows that the game is full of picky rules. One of the pickiest rules in Major League Baseball involves the bats. The very first rule states that the bats must be smooth, round and stick-shaped and no longer than 42 inches and no wider than 2 ¾ inches in diameter. The bat also needs to be made of “one piece of solid wood.” Interestingly, other organizations, like the NCAA and Little League, allow their players to use popular aluminum and composite bats. While children and amateur players get to use the latest technology in powerful, lightweight metal bats, the Major Leaguers have to stick with the old fashioned wooden bats that still resemble the tools used in the early days of baseball.
The Science of the Wooden Bat
The biggest reason that the pros are still using wooden bats is due to the science of hitting a baseball. When players from the NCAA enter the MLB and its minor leagues, they notice a major shift in their playing ability: their batting averages decrease. This does not happen because rookies and minor leaguers are poor players; it happens because of the wooden bat. Aluminum and composite bats allow players to hit the ball farther. The walls of the aluminum bats act almost like a trampoline in the way they pull in and push out when the ball hits the sweet spot. That extra push gives batters a ball that travels farther, resulting in more doubles, triples, and home runs. When the young players move to wooden bats, they no longer get the extra push and their batting averages decline.
Maintaining History for the Ages (and the Fans)
Major League Baseball include more than just the game; the history is just as important. Today’s players have so many advantages over the early players. Advances in physical training, the physics of the game, and basic sabermetrics gives players the power and knowledge to out-hit players from the golden age of baseball. If you add in the technology of metal bats, every hitting record would be smashed within the first week of the first season they were allowed. In order to keep the game consistent from the days of Babe Ruth, Mickey Mantle, Reggie Jackson, and on, the bats need to be made of solid wood.
Picking the Perfect Bat: Maple and Other Hardwoods
Despite the fact that the MLB players have to use solid wooden bats that are crafted within specific dimensions, the players are able to choose what type of wood their bats use. At M^Powered, we offer our wooden bats in hickory, ash, maple, and birch. These hardwoods have subtle differences that some MLB players like during different weather conditions. Maple bats are growing in popularity because of the hardness of the wood. Maple bats are slightly more durable than ash and the other hardwoods; so, they are less likely to break and more likely to get a big hit.
Ash and Hickory Bats
Even though maple is gaining in popularity, ash bats still out sell them. MLB players have several of their favorite bats available during a game, so even if they prefer a lighter hardwood, it does not matter if they break or not. Hickory bats are good options for those who like hardwood, but they are slightly heavier than the other ones. With the latest technology, hickory is being dried in a way that lightens them by removing more moisture.
Birch vs. Ash Bats
Some MLB players really like the ash bats because the flexibility of the wood. But, the birch bat also offers some flex. The players who love the bats made of birch over maple, hickory, and ash appreciate that the birch wood actually compresses and hardens each time the bat makes contact with the ball. The flexibility and power make this bat a good one for players who are new to using wood, but the bats need to be used several times before the pop really gets going.
If you have any questions about the right kind of wood for your newest bat, contact our customer service experts at firstname.lastname@example.org or 1-877-NO-CORKS (or 1-877-662-6757) Monday through Friday, 8 AM to 5 PM PST so we can recommend or manufacture the perfect wooden bat for you.