Have you ever seen someone put athletic tape on the barrel of their wood bat? I bet you’ve either wondered why they do that, or you’ve followed suit and wrapped your wood bat barrel in white athletic tape. Yes?
So, why is that a thing? Here’s the answer. MLB players would wrap their ASH wood bat barrels for batting practice to help prevent the grains from flaking/separating. Because of the grain structure of ASH, it was seen as a preventative measure to help the longevity of the wood bat. This was done for many years before Maple bats and Birch bats hit the scene.
Here’s the important point however. Maple bats and Birch bats are much different than Ash bats. Maple bats and Birch bats are a closed grain wood, and will NOT flake like Ash (an open pore wood). Therefore, the more you hit with a Maple bat or a Birch bat, the grains compress more and more, whereas the more contact with an Ash bat will result in “wearing out the wood”.
So do you need to wrap your wood bat barrel in athletic tape? What about a coaches fungo? The answer is no. It’s not necessary. But if you’re contemplating this, it’s really only going to benefit an Ash wood bat, and help prevent premature grain flaking and separation. Again, Maple bats and Birch bats aren’t going to flake like an Ash bat. It’s not going to hurt anything if you tape up the barrels of your Maple bat or Birch bat, but it’s not going to accomplish anything either. Some guys just like the look, and there’s nothing wrong with that. You gotta look the part, right?
Check out the pro MaxBat coaches fungos here. Guaranteed to enable you to hit moon shots to your outfielders, over and over again.
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.
Just because your high school or college baseball career is over, doesn’t mean there aren’t outlets for you to get your baseball fix in. Wood bat leagues and wood bat tournaments are organized all over the place, and I recently had the pleasure of participating in one such tourney in Florida.
And as I’m about to land in Chicago for a short layover and get ready to connect to my flight home, I’m a little run down, a tiny bit hungover, utterly confused with the time zone changes with daylight savings, and a lot sentimental. My trip out east was supposed to be a simple nine day getaway and mixing in some play time at an international wood bat baseball tournament that I was lucky enough to be invited to.
The twenty-seventh annual wood bat event is called the Roy Hobbs World Series, and it’s held down in sunny warm (read ridiculously hot and humid) Ft Myers, FL. This place is filled with alligators, manatee, dolphins (we actually swam with dolphins!), and strip malls as far as the eye can see. I assumed I’d have some fun, but what I didn’t expect was the rewarding experiences, valuable moments, remarkable new friends, and memories that will be etched in my mind for a very very long time.
We played 8 nine inning games in six days…..that’s 72 innings in under a week, and I was on the field for 68 of those. We finished with a bronze medal going 5 and 3 (side note: we swept two doubleheaders. Not an easy accomplishment). What. A. Grind. By far the most games I’ve been on the field for in about 30 years of amateur sport. Anyone who says baseball players aren’t athletes needs to give that a whirl. I have a feeling they may have a change of heart. I played pretty well. Well enough to not completely embarrass myself, but that’s not the point here. The real reason this post gets the long-wind treatment is the colorful cast of characters I had the pleasure of suiting up next to. There were so many brilliant anecdotes, inside jokes, and puns for days. We ripped on each other like we’d the been brothers since birth and conducted ourselves like the four year old snot-nosed punks we really are. We fought like champs and overcame almost every adversity. This group was outstanding.
There was a sergeant of an organized crime unit from the Chicago Police Dept who gave us a glimpse into his chilling job description; a CEO of nearly a billion dollar company who timed out to fly to New York to close a deal with Baumbardier; a head coach of a junior college baseball team; and of course the Founder and VP of MaxBat…..a wooden bat company built from scratch whose customized products are used by hundreds of Major Leaguers. These are just a few of the back stories of the MaxBat squad.
I was accompanied by three other local Victoria, BC boys. We were the Canadian content and we represented our country well. I feel like we turned some heads and showed our American hosts we’re not all beaver-pelt hunting Zamboni driving igloo builders, eh. I remember hearing one of our Uber drivers say, “Victoria, Canada?? Not the first place you’d look to find good ball players.” We laughed. We knew what kind of players we were. We went about our business, prepared the way we know how, and crushed pints like true Canucks. It’s in the handbook.
In the locker room, we were the most boisterous and raukus of all the teams in there. We held kangaroo court after each game and awarded bucks for every slight infraction on and off the field. Wore the wrong color undershirt? That’s a buck. Come to the airport with an expired passport? That’s a buck. Lose all your gear in transit? Thats a buck. I did all of those things btw.To say we didn’t hold back would be an understatement. We owned the week.
Team MaxBat is filled with salt of the earth family oriented hard working men all brought together purely for the love of of this fickle game (and pints). I’m more than honored to call these people my friends. I can only hope they feel the same. Until next year, compadres. I wish you all the best.