I remember being at a Major League baseball game and as I sat in the stadium stands, I watched in anticipation as the first hitter walked to the batter’s box.
He had a wooden bat clutched in his hands. At that moment, I thought, “But I always used metal bats when I was in High School and College.”
This sent me on a journey to find out why players use wooden bats in Major League Baseball.
Basically, the MLB uses wooden bats because they have less power and a slower bat speed. The baseball bats hit the ball more softly, so the ball flies out with less velocity.
Solid wood bats are also cheaper to make and continue the tradition of wooden bats.
All of these factors are very important when it comes to Major League games. So let us dive more deeply into the details of why players use wooden bats in MLB games.
- 5 Reasons Why the Major League Uses Wood Bats
- What Kind Of Wood Bats Are Used?
- Why Would A Player Choose A Metal Bat?
5 Reasons Why the Major League Uses Wood Bats
There are 5 main reasons why the League chooses wooden bats over any other.
Wood Bats Are Safer
Professional baseball players in the major leagues are specially trained and have great strength. Their level of play is not average anymore, with their skills far above that of average little league, high school, and college baseball players.
They hit the ball with a lot of power and at high velocity. They are also good at knowing the bat’s sweet spot, or which part of the bat should hit the ball to send it flying the farthest.
If professional baseball players used metal bats, their speed and strength would be even higher. When swung with the exact same force, an aluminum bat hits the ball an average of 8 mph faster than a wood bat.
Thus, a ball hit with a metal bat would fly at a speed of 106.5 mph, and a ball hit with a wooden bat would fly at 98.5 mph.
If professional players used metal bats, the balls would constantly be flying into the stands. These flying fastballs would be a risk to the audience and could cause many injuries, damages, and lawsuits.
Additionally, they would be a danger to the fielders and the pitcher. The pitchers, in particular, would be in trouble as they stand the closest to the batter’s plate.
There have been many cases where baseball players got injured by balls hitting them at velocities over 100 mph.
An example of this was the case of Brandon McCarthy, a professional baseball player who endured a skull fracture, a hemorrhage, and a contusion because of being hit by a high-speed ball. He nearly lost his life.
Thus, MLB players use wooden bats to stay safe and avoid such serious injuries.
Wood Bats Cannot Be Modified
Metal bats have to comply with the bat-ball coefficient of restitution; however, they can be modified after purchase.
Baseball players can shave a metal bat from the inside, and this creates a trampoline effect, with the ball springing off the bat quickly. This makes the bat lighter and lets the player swing at the ball faster, which would give an unfair advantage to professional batters during official games.
If Major League players were to use this type of modified bat, it could injure their fellow players because the ball coming towards them would be moving so quickly. Solid wood bats do not present this issue as they cannot be modified, so this keeps all major league players on an even playing field.
If both metal and wooden bats were allowed in the MLB, the players using a metal bat would have an unfair advantage over those using wooden bats.
Metal Bats Are More Expensive
A metal bat can cost anywhere from $99 to $350. On the other hand, a wood bat can save money because it only costs $30 to $250.
This price difference makes it more economical to use wood bats during MLB games.
Major League baseball players change up their baseball bats frequently, so having a cheaper yet good quality option is beneficial for them.
Only Pros Use Wood Bats
Using a wood bat requires great precision and skill to find the sweet spot. Because of this, only professional players use them.
In contrast, high schoolers, college baseball players, and little league baseball players often use metal bats to keep their batting averages reasonably high.
This fact lets people distinguish who is a pro and who is just a baseball player. You will immediately know that a player using a wooden bat knows his stuff.
It is a testament to the skill and experience every MLB player has after they have played baseball for years.
Wood Bats Keep with Tradition
Pro baseball players have been using wooden baseball bats since the game was invented. Back in the 1800s, they were using wood and not metal.
All the world records and home runs that have been recorded have been made with wooden bats. Thus, if newer players were to use aluminum bats, an equal comparison could not be made.
The MLB is all about stats, figures, and records. They would not like having their baseline criteria changed.
The change in baseball bats would mean a change in leagues entirely. New records and plays would need a different measure.
In addition, many fans enjoy the traditional look of a player holding a wooden bat. They would like to keep up this image and have the all-American baseball player stay the same.
Furthermore, if aluminum bats were used, it would mean that the baseball stadiums would have to be altered. The stadium dimensions would have to be far wider as the ball would always be hit farther.
Players would be hitting home runs left and right.
Reconstructing every single stadium would take a whole lot of cash, time, and energy. Additionally, their stands would have to be placed further away.
This would make watching a game less enjoyable and would leave fans dissatisfied.
Thus, wood bats really are the best option for professional leagues.
What Kind Of Wood Bats Are Used?
Three main types of wooden bats can be used for baseball games:
Maple wooden bats are the kind most commonly used by Major League players. They account for about 95% of MLB player bats.
A maple bat is often preferred because maple is hard and sturdy. Barry Bonds also popularized them in the 1990s.
Pro players enjoy the bat weight and feel of maple bats. They let you hit baseballs with great force and can also resist rot and bugs.
The only downside of these bats is that they have a weak spot if the ball hits a certain point on the end of the bat. If this happens, the bat can shatter and injure the hitter.
Seeing an ash bat is also quite common at MLB games. They are generally softer, lighter, and more flexible than their counterparts.
MLB players use wooden ash bats because they allow for higher swing speeds.
But in more recent years, ash bats have been used less often. This is because beetle infestation in the wood can be common, leading them to break more easily.
However, they are a big part of baseball history as Babe Ruth and Henry Aaron were both known to use ash bats.
Birch wooden bats are sort of a combination of the previous two. Their hardness lies somewhere between that of maple and ash.
Birch bats also get harder the more they are used to hit balls. They are more flexible than maple bats.
This baseball bat does, however, break quite often. This is because it has many pressure points on the barrel from where it can break.
As a result, the same bat can usually only be used to hit 30 – 50 times.
Why Would A Player Choose A Metal Bat?
Baseball players playing in the little leagues, a college team, or high school teams should use metal bats. Softball players use metal bats too.
These amateur players are not experienced enough to handle a wooden bat.
They lack the strength and the timing to handle anything but an aluminum bat. If they were to use wooden bats instead of metal bats, their batting averages would go down and we would probably not see any home runs during their games.
Additionally, while wood bats are cheaper, they break more often. These non-professionals would not wish to keep purchasing new bats, so aluminum bats are more efficient.
Lastly, wooden bats can shatter on impact and injure the players. This is avoided with the use of a metal bat, so the players’ safety is assured.
To conclude, we can safely say that wooden bats are here to stay. Professional baseball players do enjoy using wood bats, and they help the game remain fair.
They will keep the game competitive and allow the classic baseball tradition to continue.
Amateurs and those learning the game use aluminum bats, but wooden bats will continue to represent those with more skill: the pros.
How Are Wooden Bats Made?
The MLB carefully chooses the wood for their bats, and they have to fit certain standards. The type of wood they use is also specific.
Each new bat is made with a multi-step bat construction process. Their measurements are determined according to MLB guidelines and with specialized machinery.
First, the barrel is made for the model. They can then custom-design and paint them.
What Color Are MLB Bats?
Bats are made in a variety of different colors; the model can also differ. The MLB rules committee guidelines say that a player may personalize their bat with their signature as well.
In addition, MLB players often use pink bats on mother’s day. This is to raise awareness for breast cancer.
Who Manufactures MLB Bats?
Though many brands and stores operate in the baseball space, some top brands are most commonly used to purchase bats.
Models from Louisville Slugger are the most popular. Rawlings, Marucci, and Easton are also very highly acclaimed.