Simply swinging a wood bat can really help hitters develop faster. First off, wooden bats tend to be weighted differently than aluminum / metal bats. This doesn’t always mean that a wood bat is heavier, it means that because the barrel of wood bat is solid (instead of hollow like an aluminum bat), the weight distribution is going to be/feel different. This difference alone helps hitters develop the muscles they use to swing, and really builds bat speed faster than just working with aluminum. Professional coaches often say that players MUST utilize their legs and hips to effectively hit with a wood bat, thus training with a wood bat will help teach leg drive. Also, the sweet spot on wooden bats is smaller than that of a metal bat, and forces hitters to be more selective at the plate. Because wood bats have smaller sweet spots, it forces hitters to only swing at good pitches.
Typically hitters who train with wood bats swing at fewer bad pitches, and wait for that pitch they can drive on a more consistent basis. Being more selective at the plate and having more bat speed are two things that coaches at all levels look for when they evaluate hitters. Simply switching to wooden bats for practice will help hitters develop the skills necessary to play and be more successful at the next level. With the school season approaching, and tryouts on the horizon, do yourself a favor and start swinging a wood bat. You’ll see improvement in your production at the plate in no time.
The MaxBat R10 is an example of a Medium barrel wood bat. Medium barrel wood bats are made from High Density wood billets.
Wood baseball bats offer a variety of barrel sizes, from Medium to XL. So what wood bat barrel size is the best for you?
The first thing you might want to consider is the type of feel you want with your wood bat. Are you looking for a baseball bat with balance, or maybe one that’s more end-loaded? Wood bats with Medium barrels will have more balance, while those with XL barrels will be more end-loaded. That’s simply due to the fact that each wood bat barrel has different mass. The less mass, the lighter the feel. The more mass, the heavier the feel.
Looking at it from a wood baseball bat production standpoint, wood bats with Medium barrels are made from higher density wood than wood bats with a Large or XL barrel. And that’s because the increased mass of Large and XL barrels require the bat maker to use a lower density wood billet in order to compensate for the increased weight.
Density equals strength. If a wood baseball bat is made from high density wood, it’s going to be stronger, have more pop, and ultimately last longer.
Medium barrel wood bat = High Density (strongest)
Large barrel wood bat = Medium Density
XL barrel wood bat = Low Density
So, what’s the best barrel size for a wood bat? It’s ultimately up to the individual player, BUT the smaller the barrel, the stronger the wood bat.
Let’s face it. The majority of baseball players are conditioned to think that swinging a lighter baseball bat is the best thing they can do for their performance at the plate.
“I need to swing a -3 wood bat”.
“I want and need the lightest wood bat possible”.
“No way I can swing a -2 wood bat. That’s too heavy”.
Baseball players need to stop thinking like this. Why?
1. Weight drop rules only apply to METAL bats. There are no rules in place that apply to wood bats that mandate you absolutely have to swing a wood bat that is a -3 weight drop.
2. The lighter a wood bat, the weaker the wood. In order to produce a wood bat that is a -3, the manufacturer needs to start with a lighter wood billet. The billet is lighter because the wood is lower in density. The lower the density, the weaker the wood. If you start with a lower density wood billet, you’re more likely to make a wood bat that is weaker than a wood bat made from a “heavier” / high density billet.
3. A weight difference of 1 ounce (-2 compared to -3) is virtually undetectable in a wood bat. A stack of ten pennies equals 1 ounce. That extra ounce is distributed throughout the bat’s length and not focused on the barrel’s end. Picture a bat with ten pennies placed on it that are spaced from knob to barrel end.
4. Swinging a -2 wood bat, compared to a -3, will NOT reduce your bat speed. Remember that some of that weight (inconsequential weight) is located in the handle, thus evenly balanced.
5. -2 wood bats, compared to -3 wood bats, are made from harder/stronger wood. Not only will they last longer, they will hit the ball further. Basic physics tells us, and proves that the more mass you apply to something (in this case, a bat on ball), the more force you will apply to it.
So, do you want to perform better when using a wood bat? Swing -2 instead of -3. If you’re a parent looking for a Youth wood bat, avoid bats that advertise large barrel -10 bats at all costs. You’ll just be throwing away money. Youth wood bats should never be lighter than -7.
Swinging a wood bat can really help young hitters develop faster. First off, wooden bats tend to be weighted differently than aluminum / metal bats. This difference alone helps hitters develop the muscles they use to swing, and really builds bat speed faster than just working with aluminum. Also, the sweet spot on wooden bats is smaller than that of a metal bat, and forces hitters to be more selective at the plate. Because wood bats have smaller sweet spots, it forces hitters to only swing at good pitches.
Typically hitters who train with wood bats swing at fewer bad pitches, and wait for that pitch they can drive on a more consistent basis. Being more selective at the plate and having more bat speed are two things that coaches at all levels look for when they evaluate hitters. Simply switching to wooden bats for practice will help hitters develop the skills necessary to play and be more successful at the next level. With the school season ending, and the travel ball season starting to ramp up, do yourself a favor and start swinging a wood bat. You’ll see improvement in your production at the plate in no time.
I came across one of these “wood bats” the other day.
This is a popular “composite” bat that you’ll often see in somebody’s bat bag as a “just as good as a wood bat”. The DeMarini S-series “wood” baseball bat. A kid was using the bat in the hitting facility I work at and quite frankly, the bat irritated me. I looked at it and thought – How can anybody look at this thing and think it is a wood bat? After having it gnaw at me for about an hour and spending some time bitching to a few people who would listen, I decided to actually do some research and see if I was getting worked up over nothing. So I used the google button and made a few calls to some people in the industry that I know and came up with some things I will share with you momentarily. But before I do that and possibly ruffle a few feathers, I want to relate some town ball history that I happened to be present for that will illuminate why this bat vexes me so.
Wood Bats & Minnesota Town Ball
Here is a factoid that I have discovered is not known by all town ball players. Minnesota town ball, regardless of class, used to be an aluminum bat league. That’s correct, it was not always a wood bat league. For those of us who were there this is a “well duh” type statement. But I have found that many younger players are unaware of this. It is, however, quite true. Prior to 2002 town ball players used aluminum bats. So how did it change? Well, that is an interesting story in itself.
In the late 90’s aluminum bats went through a transformation. Bat makers started using new technologies that led to lighter bats that produced a “trampoline effect” that caused the ball to pretty much explode off the barrel like a .50 caliber bullet. Consequently, balls started flying out of ballparks. Even guys who were little or previously popless started regularly hitting jacks. Five of the top ten highest single season collegiate home run records and highest team totals occurred between 1997-1999. And seven of the top ten highest team home run totals per game happened between 1997-2002.
I played my collegiate years right before this bat explosion. During this “Negative Five Era” as it came to be called, I was playing Independent pro ball using a wood bat. When I was released (for being too handsome, not because I sucked) I came back to town ball and was amazed. There were guys with 20 jacks all over the place. Dude, Minnetonka hit 93 bombs in 1998. I’m pretty sure like 10 of them were hit with one hand and floated over my head in left field at Parade Stadium in the state championship game. The truth is, it wasn’t really that fun. When someone hit a home run people barely noticed, and if a batter laced a double nobody even looked up.
Worse than that, it seemed to be getting dangerous. Pitchers were seriously in harms way. I witnessed several hurlers get absolutely torched. I was catching a game when Tonka legend Tony Richards took a ball about an inch off the ground and a foot outside past our second baseman before he could even move. It was actually scary to throw to some guys.
So our team decided we didn’t want anyone’s blood on our hands and switched to wood bats in 1999. I know that sounds cocky, but we had one of our own pitchers smoked in the dome and it came a fraction of an inch from ending his career (he really had a career too as he ended up being drafted by the White Sox). Plus we had some big boppers of our own. At 6’3″ and 260 lbs of shred town ball hall of famer Chris Johnson had a legitimate chance of murderizing someone, or at least putting them on a liquid diet for a long time. Anyway, we played the entire 1999 season with wood bats and finished 2nd to Minnetonka in the class A state tourney that year. We weren’t on a crusade to get everyone to use wood. We just found out it was more fun. It was real baseball and we had to work hard to compete.
The next year Wintz trucking, who had used wood for part of the previous year, went to wood all year long (at least I think they did). Then, finally everyone changed over in 2002. After playing with wood I will never go back to aluminum (or whatever passes for aluminum these days) again. Wood totally leveled the playing field.
Which brings me to this thing again…
Here is why I don’t like it. It is just like those stupid juiced aluminum bats. It is cheating. Allow me to illustrate why.
When I was playing Indy ball we had a dude who corked a bat. He had a hole bored in the center and filled it with cork. Then he plugged the hole and sanded it down. We all took BP with it, crushed some homers and agreed it was the coolest thing ever. My team mate did not use it in a game however. I guess he read this rule:
Major League Baseball Rule 6.06(d)
A batter is out for illegal action when he uses or attempts to use a bat that, in the umpire’s judgment, has been altered or tampered with in such a way to improve the distance factor or cause an unusual reaction on the baseball.
and he thought “yeah, that’s cheating.”
Here is a cross section of a corked bat…
Here is a cross section of a DeMarini…
Yes, you are seeing that right. A DeMarini “wood” bat is not really a wood bat. It is mostly plastic. It looks a lot like a corked bat. An awful lot. But you probably already knew that. the question is, so what?
The answer is, the bat gives the hitter an advantage. The bat is designed to be lighter and worse than that, the handle is made out of carbon fiber material. The same crap they make hockey sticks out of these days. It flexes and then snaps back faster than a solid wood bat does. Here is some actual copy from a DeMarini ad…
“This maple/composite design provides players with an ever so slight amount of flex that is not typically found in a maple–‐only wood bat. This design also produces a slightly end–‐loaded feel and a larger sweet spot for more trampoline and more power than your conventional wood bats.”
There is that darn word again “trampoline”. By this companies own admission, their “wood” bat DOES NOT even perform like a solid wood bat!
So here comes the argument – Yeah but they don’t break. It is true that they break far less often, but they are not indestructible. They now cost about $200. There are several reputable companies that I am aware of that offer discounts to town ball players and make great wood bats. You can get 3-4 bats from these companies for around the same price. Will it be a little more expensive to swing real wood – perhaps for some guys it will (depending how bad your swing is). Well, it was an adjustment to swing wood when we went to it in the first place. Nobody complained then. Because it was more fun and made the game even.
All of this leads me to my point, these bats should be banned from town ball, or any league or game that is dubbed wood bat baseball. The bat race that we broke free from in 2002 is just starting all over again. Lets nip it in the bud and swing real wood bats. The Roy Hobbs organization has already banned these bats stating that they are no different (and even worse) than a corked bat. It is embarrassing to me that the state that went to wood bats first has to take its cues from another organization. I really don’t know where to start, somebody take it from here…and then maybe the Lorax and all of his friends will come back again.