How to choose a bat
Choosing the perfect bat is one of the most important decisions in the game. The ideal bat for you will be the correct size, weight, and length, and it will stay within your price range. Technological advancements have given today’s ball players more bat options than ever before, so to find your perfect bat you’ll have to do some homework.
Weight: Bigger, stronger players tend to prefer a heavier bat for maximum power. Smaller players usually benefit from a lighter bat that allows greater bat speed. To determine the right weight for you, swing a variety of bats and see how much weight feels comfortable.
Length: A longer bat gives you greater reach, allowing you to hit balls on the other side of the plate. However, longer bats tend to be heavier and the extra weight could slow you down. Much like checking the weight, you need to swing bats of different lengths to decide what length best suits you. The perfect combination of length and weight will help you reach your peak performance.
Barrel diameter: Most players 12 and under should use a 2 1/4” barrel. This is the standard barrel size for Dixie Youth and Little League baseball, although some leagues and travel teams are using larger 2 3/4” barrels. High school and college players are restricted to a maximum barrel diameter of 2 5/8”.
League requirements: Virtually all leagues have their own bat requirements and restrictions. For example, high school and college requirements call for BBCOR-certified bats. To avoid costly surprises, make sure you know all league requirements before you go bat shopping.
Composite vs. Alloy
Composite bats are made using a layered material similar to carbon fiber. It is easy to control the weight distribution of the bat, giving us the ability to make bats balanced (with the weight evenly distributed) or end-loaded (more weight at the end of the barrel), depending on the type of bat.
Pros of Composite Bats
- Minimize the sting from a miss-hit ball by reducing vibration to the hands.
- Usually have a larger sweet spot and more “pop” than alloy bats.
Cons of Composite Bats
- Tend to be more expensive than alloy bats because the manufacturing process is more complex.
- Require a break-in time before you feel the “pop” (generally taking 150-200 hits with a regular baseball or softball, and rotating the bat every hit to evenly break it in).
Also known as metal and aluminum bats, alloy bats have been around longer than composite bats.
Pros of Alloy Bats
- Generally less expensive than composite bats.
- No break-in time required.
- Typically longer-lasting than composite bats.
- Can still be used when damaged because they tend to dent, not crack like composite bats. As long as a barrel ring can still fit around its barrel, the dented alloy bat is still considered legal.
Cons of Alloy Bats
- Generally have a smaller sweet spot and less “pop” than composite bats.
- In terms of price and performance, you tend to get what you pay for. The more expensive the alloy, the longer the sweet spot and better balanced the bat will be.
Ash, still widely popular among big league guys, provides the ultimate in flexibility due to its unique grain structure. More forgiving than maple, ash rarely sees fractured breakage. Visible grain lines allow for noticeable quality giving you the confidence you need when to step to the plate.
Maple, the species preferred by most pro players, features the ultimate surface hardness and provides an unmatched sound and feel at contact. Naturally harder, maple offers added strength at impact. Closed grains eliminate flaking, commonly seen with ash, allowing superior durability against delamination.
Birch, the fastest growing species in professional baseball, features the ideal combination of surface hardness and flexibility for increased durability. Its hardness (similar to maple) provides great sound and feel at contact. Flexibility closer to ash allows for forgiveness on non-barrel contact, decreasing the chance of fractured breakage. Lighter per pound than maple, birch also affords lighter swing weights for comparable turning models.