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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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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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Can Swinging a Lighter Wood Bat Increase Bat Speed?

Posted on November 26, 2014 by MaxBat

The common perception is that if you swing a lighter wood bat, that you will automatically increase your bat speed, thus increasing your chances to hit the ball harder.

However, the weight of a wood bat has very little to do with one’s ability to generate bat speed, and here’s why…..

A short compact swing with a downward angle (aka good swing mechanics / hands inside the ball), is the foundation to generate increased swing speed (bat speed).

A long looping swing (casting out / swinging around the ball) will translate to a slower swing.

Bad mechanics will equal a bad swing, and a slow bat.

A swing with proper mechanics will impact “bat speed” more so than a bat’s weight.

Therefore someone with proper swing mechanics should be able to generate the same swing speed with a 33″/32oz. wood bat, as a 33″/31oz. wood bat. And think of the weight we are talking about…..1 measly ounce. A stack of 10 pennies equals 1 ounce. Now think about how that ounce is distributed in the bat. Picture a stack of 10 pennies affixed to the barrel end of your wood bat. I can guarantee you that you would notice the slight increase in weight. However, you need to realize that that is not how that extra ounce will be distributed within the mass of the bat. Instead of visualizing a stack of 10 pennies on the very end of the bat, picture those 10 pennies lined up throughout the length of the wood bat. The extra ounce is evenly distributed throughout, thus making that extra ounce virtually undetectable.

16StackOfPennies

Batters do not swing up, therefore they’re not fighting gravity. Hence, wood bats of the same length, with one an ounce heavier than the other, should not effect swing speed if batter executes proper swing mechanics.

Players, coaches, and parents are often misinformed about this. Just as many players think that by listening to the cup when banging their hand on a wood bat barrel will indicate if it’s a good piece of wood or not. The reality is that smaller knobbed wood bats will produce a sound with a higher pitch than wood bats with larger knobs. So yet another myth debunked.

Categories: Baseball Bats, Baseball Training, Bat Swing Speed, Wood Baseball Bats, Wood Bats

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Why you should train with a batting tee, especially with wood bats.

Posted on January 19, 2014 by MaxBat

Why you should train with a batting teeIf you are training with a wood bat, the batting tee is perhaps the single best training aid a baseball player can use, and here are few reasons why:

1. Repetition is a key to greatness in baseball
The best hitters repeat a good baseball swing thousands of times until the correct fundamentals happen without thinking about them. Using a batting tee is one of the best ways to achieve this career-long process. This is why so many Major League baseball players still use the batting tee before games and during off-season – it’s not just for young players. The batting tee is a tool players should use from the youth leagues to the Major Leagues.

2. It cuts down on obstacles and distractions
This is the most important reason to use a tee. Using a batting tee allows you to isolate the aspect of your swing that you want to work on. A tee allows you to swing at 20% or 100%. You are in total control of your swing, which is important for working on weaknesses that make hitting off a live pitcher difficult. You can work on hitting a pitch in a specific location. You can also take a large number of swings in a relatively short amount of time.

It’s also going to help you find the sweet spot of your wood bat, especially if it’s a brand new custom model that you’ve just received. Swinging a brand new wood bat is going to feel different with each previous wood bat that you’ve used.  They’re all going to be balanced slightly different, and the weight will vary.  Tee work is essential to get used to that brand new wood bat, before taking soft toss or facing pitches from a coach or machine.

3. It allows you to practice on your own time, without a partner or coach
Being a team game, baseball can be difficult to practice without other people around. Of course, it’s great for a coach to watch and critique as you hit off the tee, or to have someone reload the tee for you as you swing, but then you can also go to a cage and practice on your own. It’s a beautiful thing. Since baseball is a game of repetition, using a batting tee will help you achieve your perfect swing through hard work and quality repetition. It also enables you to groove your swing without needing someone throwing you batting practice.

4. A batting tee is portable
Most batting tees will fit in your equipment bag or the trunk of your car. Since it’s easy to bring with you to the baseball field, batting cage, or backyard net, you will have more opportunities to practice and perfect your game.

 

 

Categories: Baseball Bats, Baseball Training, Custom baseball bat, Wood bat, Wood Bats

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