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Why Do People Think These Are Wood Bats?

Posted on April 19, 2016 by MaxBat

I came across one of these “wood bats” the other day.

WTDX243S-13_Demarini_Wooden_Bat_front-1024x1024

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…

WTDX243S-13_Demarini_Wooden_Bat_front-1024x1024

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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…

corkedbat

Here is a cross section of a DeMarini…

inside-dmarini-300x200

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.

– Matt Paulsen

  MaxBat Blog Contributor
Categories: Baseball Bats, Baseball Training, Maple bats, Wood Baseball Bats, Wood bat, Wood Bats

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What is the proper way to hold a wood bat?

Posted on April 15, 2015 by MaxBat

We are frequently asked by customers “how should I hold a wood bat”?  It’s actually a good question, because with the variety of wood species to make wood bats, there’s a difference of opinion depending on what kind of wood bat you’re swinging.

Let’s start with how to hold the wood bat, and then we’ll get into the specifics.

First, hold your wood bat upright so the manufacturer’s logo (in this case, a MaxBat logo) is centered.  Which means you’re looking right at it.  Now, if you are a right-handed batter, slightly turn the wood bat in your hand so the MaxBat logo is facing your left shoulder.  If you are a left-handed batter, you would do just the opposite (slightly turn the wood bat in your hand so the MaxBat logo is facing your right shoulder.

But, why do we need to do this with wood bats, and not with aluminum?  Because wood bats have different flexes, and one side is harder than the other, etc., etc.  So, we want you to hold your wood bat in your hand, so that when you swing it, the hardest side of the wood bat barrel is making contact with the baseball.  By positioning the MaxBat logo to face your left shoulder (Right-Handed batter), or your right shoulder (Left-Handed batter), the MaxBat logo should be facing straight up to the sky when the wood bat barrel makes contact with the baseball.

So, what’s the big advantage to that?  We place the logo on either the Face-Grain (Ash Wood Bats), or Edge-Grain (Maple Wood Bats and Birch Wood Bats) so that when you position the wood bat in your hand correctly, you will be hitting the ball on the hardest side of the wood bat barrel.  Hitting the ball on this side of the wood bat barrel has been proven to extend the longevity of your wood bat.

Prior to 2009, it was believed that the manufacturer’s logo should always be placed on the face-grain of wood bats.  However, after extensive testing that was mandated by MLB, it was established that the manufacturer’s logo should be placed on the edge-grain of Maple wood bats and Birch wood bats.

So there you have it.  Just another tidbit on wood bats, from your friends at MaxBat.  Makers of the finest wood bats on the planet.

Categories: Baseball Bats, Birch bats, Maple bats, Metal bats

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Can kids use a wood bat in youth leagues?

Posted on March 24, 2015 by MaxBat

The question is, can kids use a wood bat in youth leagues, where metal bats are the norm?  Well, of course they can. A wood bat can be used in any kind of league or tournament play.

Some coaches will tell you that there is a disadvantage to swinging a wood bat in a game where most other kids are swinging metal bats. Is that the reason why some coaches frown on kids swinging wood bats, or is it because they don’t know the rules?

The answer could be both, but all you really need to know is that ALL wood bats are legal to use in baseball games, no matter the level.

We’ve heard parents say that their kid “has to swing a -10 this year”. What this means is, their METAL bat can’t be any lighter than a -10 weight drop. This DOESN’T mean that they cannot use a wood bat in their games. It also doesn’t mean that if they use a wood bat, that it has to be -10. They can swing a -5 metal bat if they want to, or a -7 wood bat.  Just remember that the lighter the wood bat, the weaker the wood.  It’s actually advantageous for some kids to swing a wood bat as opposed to a metal bat.  Why?  Because some of the metal bats are sooooo light, that the bat actually stops when making contact with the ball.  Because a wood bat has a solid barrel and more mass, contact with the ball does not impede the swing of a wood bat as much as it does with a metal bat.

Sometimes the rules completely omit the mention of wood bats in their list, but it’s necessary for everyone in baseball leagues across the country to know and understand that a wood bat is legal to use in all levels of baseball. Weight doesn’t even factor into the equation. If it’s wood, it’s good.

Categories: Baseball Bats, Metal bats

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Wood bats. When should kids start swinging them?

Posted on January 23, 2015 by MaxBat

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Look at any ballfield across the country, and you’re bound to see more kids swinging metal bats vs. wood bats. The simple reason is that metal bats are more prevalent in sporting goods stores than wood bats, with the major reason being that there are fewer wood bat leagues for youth baseball players.

So, when and why should you have your young ballplayer swing a wood bat? The answer is AS SOON AS HUMANLY POSSIBLE. Swinging with a wood bat at an early age has a tremendous amount of benefits.

  1. The Ballplayer will become stronger – Metal bats are lighter than wood bats, because the barrel of a metal bat is hollow, whereas the barrel of a wood bat is solid. Swinging a wood bat over and over again is going to develop muscles in the hands, wrists, and forearms that can’t be duplicated by swinging a metal bat.
  2. The Ballplayer will ultimately develop better mechanics – Because metal bats are lighter than wood bats, younger players can swing them with more ease.  In order to send the baseball flying using a wood bat, a batter needs to get the legs and hips involved with the swing (or swinging with proper mechanics).
  3. The Ballplayer should develop a better eye – Because the sweet spot of a wood bat is smaller than a metal bat, a batter needs to hone in on the wood bat barrel’s sweet spot when hitting.  By practicing off of a batting tee, a player using a wood bat will be able to train their muscles AND their eyes before stepping foot into a batter’s box to face live pitching.

Those are just a few of the benefits of swinging a wood bat at an early age.  The list goes on and on.

The common perception is that kids can hit a baseball farther with a metal baseball bat than a wood baseball bat.  Makes sense…..the wood baseball bat is a little heavier than a metal bat, thus the swing speed will be a little slower.  However, if a wood baseball bat is swung with the proper mechanics, a baseball will be sent just as far with a wood bat, as with a metal bat.  Why?  Because the barrel of a wood bat has more solid mass.  It is this solid mass that will propel the baseball away from the bat after contact.  Striking a baseball with a solid wood bat can most definitely result in ball speed and distance that equals that of a metal bat.

Wood bat popularity is at an all-time high around the globe.  There are wood bat tournaments being held in youth leagues in almost every state.  The fact is, that kids love playing with wood bats.  It’s baseball at it’s purest form.  And there is nothing better in sports than hitting a baseball off the sweet spot of a wood baseball bat.  Ask anyone who has played, and they’ll have a hard time describing it to someone who has never hit with wood bats.

To help you find the appropriate wood bat for your ballpalyer, click the following link for more information: https://www.maxbats.com/bats/find-your-max/

 

Categories: Baseball Bats, Baseball Training, Metal bats, Wood Baseball Bats, Wood bat, Wood Bats

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Differences between Maple Bats and Birch Bats

Posted on January 5, 2015 by MaxBat

Wood bats give you options that metal bats do not. And the most obvious option, is that you can get a wood bat in a number of wood species…..Maple, Birch, and Ash are the 3 most common.

Recent numbers show that MLB players prefer Maple Bats over the rest, but you might be surprised to find out that Birch Bats have taken over the 2nd spot over Ash Bats in what pro players use in games.

So what’s the difference between the 3 species? First, let’s go over Maple Bats vs. Ash Bats. Maple bats are very rigid, and this gives them tremendous pop. Ash has more flex, and some players like this because the ash wood bat can feel like it gives them a little more whip. The downfall with ash is that it can break down with repeated use, and that’s simply because of the nature of the wood grains.

Now, explaining the differences between Maple Bats and Birch Bats is a little more difficult to do because the two species are so similar. Both species are GREAT for making wood bats. One species is NOT going to be lighter than the other, as a lot of people think…..but what is lighter? A pound of bricks, or a pound of feathers? They both weigh a pound folks. Same with Maple and Birch.

The biggest difference between a Maple Bat and a Birch Bat is the flex. Many players say that a Birch Bat is the perfect mix of a Maple Bat and an Ash Bat, because it has the hardness of Maple, but the flex of Ash. However, it’s really not that simple. Birch definitely has more flex than Maple, but it doesn’t compare to the flex of Ash.

So, what’s the best wood bat for you? That’s going to be your own personal preference. But now you know a little bit more about the wood species options when choosing a wood bat.

Categories: Baseball Bats, Birch bats, Maple bats, Wood Baseball Bats, Wood bat, Wood bat company, Wood Bats

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