Sunday, December 30, 2012

Better Wood Makes Better Bats


If you're looking to get your first wooden baseball bat, the most important aspect of the bat is the quality of wood used to build it. If you watch much baseball on tv, you will undoubtedly notice that most players use Louisville Sluggers or Marucci bats. That may lead you to believe that those two companies make the best bats available, but that is not necessarily the case.

Not to sell Louisville Slugger and Marucci short, but the fact that their bats are so prevalent is a testament to their marketing teams. There is no doubt that they make great bats, but they're no different than any other bats you can buy. All bat companies make the same models e.g. the 271, and offer essentially the same color and stain options. They also using the same species of wood for the bats (wood is graded by quality, we'll touch on that later). Virtually, the only difference in the bats that you see the Major Leaguers using is the label.

As previously mentioned, the wood used to make bats is graded by a number of criteria such as the number of grains, straightness of grains, slope of grain, etc. The highest grade wood is reserved for Major League hitters, the next best is used in the Minor Leagues, and they work their way down from there. The everyday consumer is at the bottom of the rung, but that doesn't necessarily mean that you're getting bad lumber, it's just not the best they have to offer. Generally the lower quality of the wood, the more susceptible the bat is to break. So if you want to use the bat you see Josh Hamilton swinging, you will not be getting the same quality of wood that he does, and you'll be paying a premium for the label.

The biggest factor in making a great wood bat is the quality of wood used to make it. It is of my opinion that buying bats from the biggest companies may not be the best idea, because their best wood is reserved for professional players. The better route is to purchase a brand that has comparative pricing to the large companies but isn't in the Major Leagues yet. This would indicate that they are getting high quality wood, but since they don't have professional clients or aren't MLB certified, the average customer will be getting the good wood. In our online store, we offer several companies that fit this profile.
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