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.
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.
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.