Watch a baseball game, like a Little League or a high school or even a college game. You’re going to see a lot of players batting with hot, colorful alloy and composite bats that, even through the screen, look like something out of the space age.
Well, we are in the space age, technically, so that’s not too far off. Modern composite and alloy bays are often made with the highest-quality components and cutting-edge technology available. It makes sense; players appreciate performance.
Now watch a professional baseball game. All of the players swing wooden bats. In fact, it’s required by the league.
This must be because wooden baseball bats offer the best performance of all, right?
Actually, that’s not why they use them at all.
It’s about Performance (Just Not How You Think)
The MLB actually requires professional baseball players to swing wooden bats for the exact opposite reason. It’s because wooden bats actually have lower BPF ratings (bat performance factor) than composite and alloy bats.
This means that, if one player swung an aluminum or composite bat with a higher BPF rating than a wooden baseball bat, and then that wooden bat, at two equivalent pitches, the batted ball speed off of the alloy and composite bats would be higher.
But why would the best players in the world be using “inferior” equipment?
It’s actually about the skill that comes along with putting the players at an engineering disadvantage and a little bit about safety.
With respect to safety, if professional players were to swing at pitches with high-tech aluminum alloy or composite bats, they’d produce dangerous batted ball speeds that could imperil the players on the field.
But it’s about skill, too. Wood bats have more elusive, smaller sweet spots than modern alloy or composite bats. They are also not tolerant of mishits. Take one poor swing with even a new wooden baseball bat, and you might shatter it.
The pros are good enough to work around these disadvantages and still score home runs. And, they need to be better to do so.
Playing with wooden bats is harder, which is precisely the reason that professionals use them.
It’s also the reason that you sometimes see youth baseball players and amateurs practicing with wood. They want to be better, too, and wood demands skill.
Players are supported by their gear, and that means that players want to use the best gear they can get their hands on. An unfortunate aspect of competition is the possibility of cheating.
Players have been known to modify bats in the past, but it is harder to modify wooden baseball bats than it is to modify alloy or composite bats, especially those with multi-piece construction.
One more consideration that makes wooden baseball bats attractive to the major league is that they are relatively inexpensive to produce, at least by comparison to modern alloy and composite bats.
Should You Practice and Play with Wood Baseball Bats?
If you’re looking for a challenge, sure, you should practice with wooden bats (as long as your league or tournament allows it). Just don’t expect the same performance from wood that you’re used to with alloy and composite bats.
Wood bats will help coach you to refine your technique, to practice better bat handling, and to become more accurate in your swing – it’s not all about swing speed, after all.
Check out HB Sports over at HeadbangerSports.com to find a wide collection of wooden (and alloy and composite, for that matter) baseball bats. Their collection (which includes big barrel bats and youth bats) highlights some of the best brands in the industry, including Louisville Slugger, Marucci, Easton, and countless others- in addition to fast and slow pitch softball bats.
Check out one of their bat sizing charts and if you have any questions about bat length, weight, weight drop, or any other specifications affecting bat standards, contact their customer service team at 1-888-540-BATS.