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.
Often times we get asked about cupped vs. not-cupped, and many of those questions come from Major Leaguers. So, we’re here to give you some information as to the reasons why a wood bat is cupped and what are the benefits.
Back in the day, wood bats did not have cupped ends. It wasn’t an option, and nobody had given any thought to the practice. So when did it start?
Well during Spring Training of 2005, HOF catcher Johnny Bench came over to our display at Reds camp in Sarasota, FL. He asked lots of questions about MaxBat, and picked up practically every model that we had with us to show to players. It was then that he said, “You know, I was the first player to swing a cupped bat in the Majors back in the ‘70s”. It was a very interesting comment, as you can imagine. Here stands a Hall Of Famer, and we’re going to hear how cupping wood bats started.
Johnny described how he wanted his wood bat to feel a little more balanced, and after some thinking, he came up with the idea to hollow out the very end of the barrel to remove a little bit of the bat’s end weight.
So there you have it……Johnny Bench. The cupped wood bat innovator.
Nowadays, players can get a cupped wood bat no matter who they are. However, many of them still do not know the advantages a cupped bat gives them as a hitter.
The first advantage is that (like Johnny Bench said) a cupped bat will make the bat a tad more balanced. This can be a great benefit if you’re facing a pitcher who is throwing gas, and you’re in the dog-days of Summer and you just don’t feel you’ve got the swing speed to catch up to the pitch. Most players understand this, and it’s for that reason that most players will request a cupped end.
However the most beneficial reason to order your wood bat cupped, is that as a wood bat company and wood bat manufacturer, we can use a higher density piece of wood to make your bat if we know ahead of time that we are going to cup the end during one of the final stages of production.
Follow me here…..the #1 thing a ballplayer wants from a wood bat is to get the hardest piece of wood they can. Harder wood equals stronger wood. Stronger wood equals more pop and more durability. When we cup a bat, we know that we can remove up to 7/10ths of an ounce off the overall weight of a bat. So if we know that we are going to remove that weight at the end of the process, one of our production members can first select a wood bat billet that is on the heavy side (heavier wood equals higher density wood). If we’re attempting to make the same exact wood bat model, but without a cup, our production team has to use a wood bat billet that is a shade lighter in weight (light wood equals lower density wood) due to the fact that we are not removing any weight by cupping. Make sense?
Some players think that the act of cupping a wood bat somehow makes it weaker….or that the bat will break easier if it’s cupped. Well, a cupped wood bat is made from higher density wood, so it should be stronger and more durable, thus making it last longer.
One concern that players do have in regards to cupped ends is the chance of hitting a baseball off the very end of the bat and the wood chipping away. MaxBat solved this problem years ago when we were first getting the business off the ground. If you’ll notice, our cup design features a thicker “wall” on the end, which gives it more strength to withstand those dreaded end-shots you might encounter when chasing an off-speed pitch.
So in summary, a cupped end adds balance to your wood bat AND allows us to use a higher density (stronger/harder) wood bat billet to create your custom baseball bat.
Ever watch a game on TV and ask yourself, “What is that dot on the wood bat handle?”
That is an area left exposed during the finishing process for an ink-spot, administered by the bat manufacturer. This is done as a quality control measure. By placing a small drop of ink 12″-14″ up from the knob on the face grain of the wood bat, we are able to verify whether or not the grain is good. The picture below shows a properly administered ink-test, and absolutely straight grain. The straighter the grain, the better the performance of the Maple bat or Birch bat. If the grain were to seep into the wood and show a slope-of-grain of more than 3 degrees, that would indicate wood of a lower quality and greater chance of the wood bat breaking in 2-pieces.
Because MaxBat uses wood that is split instead of sawn, we’re almost guaranteed that ink-testing reveals slope-of-grain of less than 2 degrees on any of our Maple bats or Birch bats.
It’s a question we frequently get asked, so we made the decision in November, 2013 to start ink-spotting all MaxBat Maple bats and Birch bats that are ordered by our online customers.
All MaxBats have always been treated as if they are being produced for a Major League Baseball player, and now each Maple bat and Birch bat from MaxBat features a visible ink-spot on the face grain of the handle. This ink-spot indicates that the wood bat has not only gone through the MLB slope-of-grain quality control test, but has also passed with a slope-of-grain less than 3 degrees (beware…some companies simply applying ink dots to the handles that clearly don’t pass). The MaxBat logo has also been rotated 90 degrees and placed on the edge grain to conform to MLB rules (adopted in 2009) that only apply to Maple bats and Birch bats (logo previously placed on the face grain). These steps ensure that you are swinging the same wood as our professional clients.