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How to Choose a Wood Baseball Bat

How to Choose a Wood Baseball Bat

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Published by Coach JP
Most players today (other than those who are being paid to play) are new to the ways of wood baseball bats. I've included some basic knowledge on the subject for the serious player and his coaches who are realizing that to get to the next level you need to train with wood.
Most players today (other than those who are being paid to play) are new to the ways of wood baseball bats. I've included some basic knowledge on the subject for the serious player and his coaches who are realizing that to get to the next level you need to train with wood.

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Published by: Coach JP on Mar 13, 2009
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06/18/2013

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How to Choose a Wood Baseball Bat
Coach John Peter Most players today (other than those who are being paid to play) are new to the ways of wood baseball bats. I've included some basic knowledge on the subject for the serious player and hiscoaches who are realizing that to get to the next level you need to train with wood. Moreimportantly, here's some straight advice on how to choose the right bat and get the most for your money too. Let's start with some basics:
Materials
 Ash
Most wood bats today are made from Northern White Ash generally harvested in Pennsylvaniaand Upstate New York. It is graded for quality with straight grain being the most importantcriteria. (Southern Ash grows too quickly and is not as dense). Major League grade is of course,the best and is also in short supply. Most of what you see that's labeled or sold as Pro-Stock or some similar name is actually Minor League wood or a lesser grade and generally is found for around $40. Of course, there are other levels of quality down to the $20. range. They are known by grades called high school, trophy and retail (don't expect to see the grades labeled). Generally,they are not of very good quality and only worth purchasing if money is an issue. (Better thannot having any wood at all). You won't find these on our site. We only work with quantities instraight ash.
 Maple
Here is another material that has recently gained some Major League notoriety. They cost a bitmore, but when made properly AND from the right material known as Rock or Sugar Maple, it isabsolutely worth the extra money simply because it tends to outlast ash bats many times over. Soin the long run, because they last longer, they're less expensive.So why don't all major Leaguers use maple? Actually, as they are becoming more well known,more players are now using them. Just like in your own dugout, players will try out each other'snew bats. And since they have such good "feel", some players will switch while other playershaving the superstitions that many ballplayers tend to have, will never change even the color much less the type of bat that they use. Also, since Major leaguers aren't concerned with savingmoney on bat breakage, economy is not the issue that it is for the rest of us.
 Here's a warning when considering a maple bat:
Because of it's recent good press, too many newcompanies have jumped on the bandwagon making bats out of inferior material such as red or silver maple, a soft maple that just won't hold up well enough in my opinion especially keepingin mind that they cost more than ash bats to begin with. So, don't buy unless you are sure you aregetting a hard maple bat!
(remember the names rock maple and sugar maple)
 It's a great "stick", with some players saying that the ball just jumps off the bat a bit quicker. Itdoesn't flake (outer layers or pieces that chip off in flakes) like ash either. If there's a downside, it just costs more than many ash bats.Available lengths: 32", 33", 34" Weights are -1 & -2 oz.
 
Color: various
 Hickory
This is going to be a "next-great" alternative in my opinion. It's as hard a piece of wood as it gets,the inherent problem being its weight. However, with today's improved air kiln-drying methods,new ways are being uncovered to remove more of the moisture which in turn means more of theweight. It may become a reality on the major league circuit very soon. It will be a potent &maybe hardest-to-break bat than most anything else you could find. Stay tuned.Available lengths: 32", 33", 34" Weights are generally -1 to hopefully -3oz.Color: Various (but I'd say hickory sounds like my 1st choice)
 Bamboo
Here's another of the exotic materials that are now on the market. I like the fact that it seems totake a lot of mis-hits without breaking. It has a good sound, doesn't require being taped at the barrel for BP (batting practice) or cage work (batting cage practice) as it just doesn't flake or spliteasily. Ours even has a fiberglass boa wrap covering the lower 15 inches of the bat to further  prevent breakage at the handle.Available lengths: 32", 33", 34" Weight drops are available to -3 oz.Color: natural only***************************************************
Composites, Combinations & Other Trick-Bats
 Note: These bats are approved for high school, college and pro ball up through Rookie and Short Season Class A Leagues.
I don't even know there is a true definition of the word composite, as it applies to bats. My bestguess is that it means that it is either more than a billeted bat (made of 1 piece of wood) or it is aman-made material. I have seen bats called composite which are regular run-of-the-mill ash batsencased in fiberglass and I've seen them made from some unidentifiable man-made materials thatdon't even seem to be wood at all… and priced up to $150!
Suggested Model Choices and Variations
 Brett Brothers Stealth Model 
Here's another great idea from the baseball Brett family of George, Kenny and Bobby. Long-lasting and reasonably priced. These bats are made from 3 separate one inch by 3 inch pieces, 2of maple and 1 ash piece sandwiched in between. They are then glued and power-bondedtogether. After the drying process, they are turned on a lathe into a very balanced and verydurable bat. The patented boa fiberglass wrap is then applied to the handle to prevent much of the breakage found in single piece ash bats. It is then double-dipped in black lacquer. A great
 
choice for any age or level of player.Available lengths: 31", 32", 33", 34" Weights are -2 to -3 oz.Color: black, black & also black 
Wood Bat Knowledge
Here's the stuff that too many players and coaches don't know. . .
(but would rather do it the wrong way than admit it!)
 
 Handling and Care
Extreme temperatures are probably not a good idea. Wood bats should be stored in the house andnot the garage. Simply store them in the back of your closet to keep them out of the way in theoff season.
 Breakage and Prevention
The reality of wood bats is that any one of them can be broken. However, with some knowledgeand the right bat, they have been known to last a long, long time. The first thing to do to reduce breakage is to understand that the placement of the trademark is not by accident. As no two treesare alike, no two bats are alike either. The trademark is placed on an area which has the greatest possibility of failure. The exact opposing side of the trademark is also a place where bats willmore likely to fail too. Take a close look and you will see how the grain runs and why this is true.So the simple rule of prevention here is…Bat with LABEL UP OR LABEL DOWN. Whileholding a bat with two hands extended across the plate, make sure the label faces up to the sky or down to the ground. Secondly, understand that movement of your hands will always start theswing. (Ok technically, it's the hands and the front knee). With wood, it generally takes a bitmore to get the bat through the contact zone, so start your swing earlier (sooner). This is greattraining for many reasons; one being that you'll be even quicker with your aluminum bat!Know that around 70% of all bats break when hit off the end of the bat, not off the fists (hands).Your first thoughts might be that this sounds crazy because when the breaks you notice it tends to be near the handle, not the business-end of the bat, right?
 But check out this reasoning. . .
Most hitters are right handed. Most pitchers are right handed. Pitchers in the aluminum bat era(since 1972) know that you can't pitch inside and saw off an aluminum bat so they live on theoutside corner not having been taught to pitch inside. (I hear guys say that they will come inside, but really, not many do. Who wants to hit the guy and put him on base anyway). Also, what's thesecond pitch that you see so many guys throw?…The hard, hopefully for them, late-breakingcurve or maybe the slider. And which direction do these break? Away from the right handedhitter!!! Many of them making contact on the end of the bat. And where does the bat tend to break?…Near the thinner part, the handle!

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