Only wooden bats are permitted in the major leagues. Nevertheless, there are many different types of bats, including different types of wood used for baseball bats.
With respect to wood type for major league bats, they use maple, birch or ash (see below for more details).
The reason metal bats aren’t permitted in the majors is they can hit the ball further and harder due to the alloy being harder and the trampoline effect where the ball bounces more off the bat.
Despite that, alloy, aluminum, and composite bats are used by many players, especially in softball, and hence they’re popular bat options. Below is the definitive list of baseball bat options.
One vs. Two-Piece Baseball Bats
In a one-piece baseball bat, every bit of the bat is made out of the same material. This allows for a bat that is stiffer and stronger, and power-hitters love them because they usually want very little flex in their hits. Nowadays, most one-piece baseball bats are made of wood, aluminum, or composite materials.
In two-piece baseball bats, the handle is made out of a different material than the barrel of the bat. This results in less vibration in the handle since the handle and barrel are separate. These bats can have a trampoline effect when the ball hits the barrel since the design means the barrel will flex at the point of contact. Often called a hybrid bat, these bats come in various designs, although no one has ever seen a two-piece bat made of aluminum parts.
Materials for Baseball Bats
Alloy bats are made with aluminum that is mixed with other types of metal, and this is done to get a much stronger bat in the end. The main advantage of using an alloy bat is that their barrel walls are more responsive and thinner.
Aluminum is durable, light, and is common when making baseball bats from Little League through high school and even college. These types of bats are easier to swing than bats made of wood, which is one of the reasons they are used so often for younger players. When you use an aluminum bat, the ball “pops” off of it with a lot of speed, and these bats are great for beginners who are just learning the mechanics of swinging the bat correctly. A lot of people claim that they make the ball go further as well, but that is only a matter of opinion.
Composite bats are usually made of plastic, graphite, and sometimes titanium. Moreover, since they are lighter than aluminum, they are excellent for beginning players. The lower leagues, therefore, usually give their players a composite bat because they allow even beginners to learn much quicker. They do tend to be more expensive than aluminum bats, but are not as durable, and in fact, they are not allowed for certain types of games.
Hybrid bats are great because they offer the advantages of aluminum and composite bats, but eliminate their drawbacks. They usually have a spine and handle made of aluminum and a barrel made of titanium, graphite, and plastic. These are very durable bats and seldom have dents or any other types of defects, even if you use them for a very long time. In competitive play, hybrid bats are not usually allowed, and their cost can be prohibitive for many players, which is why so many teams use aluminum bats instead of these hybrids.
Since the earliest days of baseball, wooden bats have been used. Both major and minor leagues utilize them, and you can even find them in batting cages. The types of wood can vary, however, and they seem to change frequently. Some wooden bats are made with white ash, but they can also be made of maple, hickory, and even bamboo, with each having its own advantages. They vary in durability, strength, and thickness, but normally each league will decide for themselves which types of bats the players will use. Here are the three main types of wood used in baseball bats:
- Ash: more flexible and forgiving than maple wood; the disadvantage is that the grain of the wood can flake or splinter over time.
- Birch: very flexible and durable; the disadvantage is that it is a soft wood that sometimes results in dents.
- Maple: one of the best species to use for wooden bats because of its density; the disadvantage is that it doesn’t always perform well in high-humidity areas, and it is less forgiving than other types of wood.
Types of Wooden Bats
- More forgiving when you have a hit-miss on its end
- This is the only wood that allows for a “flame” finish
- Less dense
- Very visible grain
- Close to the pop of a maple, which is top-notch
- If you’re new to wood, it’s easy to adapt to birch
- Less visible wood grain
- Gives you some of the ash’s flex
- Gives you bigger hits because it has the most “pop”
- Used by more pros
- Less visible grain so it does well when engraving
- All-around strongest type of bat
What is the difference between balanced and end-loaded baseball bats?
- Balanced: with these bats, the weight is distributed evenly throughout the entire bat. They allow the hitter to enjoy great speeds without giving up control while they swing.
- End-Loaded: these have a top-heavy feel because a portion of its weight is concentrated towards the end of the barrel close to the end cap. They are sometimes difficult to control and are recommended for extra-strong hitters.
What’s the difference between youth and adult bats?
Youth Baseball Bats
- Usually made of wood or metal
- Usually used by players between the ages of seven and 12
- Most youth bats are 26-32 inches in length and have a barrel that is 2 ¼” in size
- If the player hits a ball that barely makes it to the outfield, the bat they’re using is too light
- If the player loses control or has a lot of foul balls, the bat is likely too heavy
Adult Baseball Bats
- Usually made of wood or metal
- Most adult bats are no more than 42 inches in length and 34-36 ounces in weight
- At the thickest part of the bat, the size can be no more than 2.75 inches in diameter
- The “drop” – or inches of length less the ounces it weighs – cannot be more than 3; for example, a 34-inch bat has to weigh at least 31 ounce.