Choosing a Baseball Bat used to be a relatively easy and fun task. If it felt good, you could easily swing it and it was legal – buy it. Today you nearly need a degree in Chemistry to understand all the materials bats are made of 9nine Sports.
Therefore, the first thing we’ll learn in “How to Buy a Bat” is the composition of each and its advantages and disadvantages. I’ll try to make this as simple as possible and lucky for you…I don’t have a degree in chemistry.
Understanding Bat Materials
Basically the three categories of materials used in making bats are Aluminum, Wood and Graphite/Titanium lined.
A. Aluminum is light weight, which allows increased bat speed and control. Balls travel, although not hugely significantly, 2% to 4%, farther when struck when an aluminum bat over other composites.
B. Aluminum bats historically cost more than other bats, but they are durable and not prone to crack or break. Your hands may take a numbing stinger, but the bat won’t break.
C. Because of the different mixtures of zinc, copper, magnesium and aluminum the bats are lighter, which also increases the “sweet spot” hitting zone on the bat’s barrel. That’s why the tendency for the ball to travel farther.
A. These two materials are added to thinner walled aluminum bats, enabling the bat to become ever lighter and increasing the batters’ swing speed.
B. These materials also increase the bat’s durability, which is important in
maintaining the integrity of the bat’s “sweet spot.”
C. These materials also help reduce vibration along the bat when the ball is not solidly struck. This reduces the pain of the hands when incurring a stinger. A nice plus in cold weather.
A. Wood bats have the classic feel and sound of baseball.
B. Wood bats are offered in greater variety in shape and taper for a player’s individual taste.
C. Wood of course has 3 major disadvantages. Bats break, reduced sweet spot on the barrel and the ball travels slower and less distance than with a composite bat.
Baseball Bat – Break In
Yes, you heard me correctly. A composite bat must be broke in much the way you break in a new glove. How long it takes to break it in depends on the bat, but a general rule of thumb is 100 to 200 hits.
To properly break the bat in you need to be hitting quality leather baseballs. The rubber coated balls which some batting cages use are not any good for this purpose.
You should not be hitting off a tee. The ball should be traveling at least 40 mph and preferably faster. Remember to turn the bat @ 1/8″ every time you hit the ball in order to break the entire barrel of the bat in.
Let me first say this…Keep and know where your receipt is. You’ll need the receipt if there are any problems with the bat and at $100 to $300 a pop, you can’t afford to throw the bat away.
A. Do not leave a composite bat out in the cold for any extended time period. Cold is not good for the materials and hitting under 65 degree weather increases the chance of the bat breaking.
B. Never use any wax or glazing material in an attempt to keep the bat shiny. One, it make negatively affect the bat’s performance and two, it may be considered tampering with the bat, like corking it.
C. Only hit leather baseballs. The bat was designed and intended for a certain ball, just as softball bats are different than baseball bats, and hitting anything other than that is bad for the bad.
While we’re examining composite bats here are a few questions I’ve been asked by players and parents.
Q. I’ve been told to not use a weighted donut on a composite bat as it might distort the barrel.
A. Nonsense. As long as you use the donut for its intended use it will not harm the bat.
Q. Unless it breaks, does a composite bat last forever?
A. The bat may last forever, but they will lose the “pop” you originally bought the bat to produce. Bats can lose their pop by cracks occurring, end cap separation, or the material breaking down due to abuse or age.
The first signal of a bat breaking down is usually the sound. It’ll have a flat, dull sound when hitting the ball instead of the crisp ping. There are also times you can feel a difference when the bat strikes the ball and a reduction in velocity and distance the ball travels is a sure sign.