Before we start. Please read a few terms below so you understand wood a little better.
BAT SPEED: The speed in which you swing the bat. #1 factor in hitting with wood. You must have good bat speed when using wood or you might as well just bunt it. If you’re wondering why you can’t hit the ball through the gaps in the infield, or over the outfielders head it’s because you’re not swinging hard enough to do so.
MASS: The overall mass of the bat. Every unique model has a different overall mass. Remember in science class we filled a measuring tube with water and dropped objects in it to measure how much water was displaced measuring the mass in cubic inches? For example. A small barreled bat has less mass then a larger barreled bat. More mass can be your enemy is most cases.
DENSITY: Denser means harder. For example, if two maple C271’s are cut to 33” each. But one weighs the adult standard 30 ounces and the other weighs a heavier 32 ounces. The 32 ounce bat is denser, and harder. If you can still generate the same bat speed with both bats the one that is denser will have more pop. And if you compare a large barreled bat and small barreled bat that are both 33” and both weight 30 ounces the bat with the larger barrel is less dense, reducing its pop and durability. This is why we don’t make bats lighter than a -3, if you make an adult bat lighter then – 3 ounces you are just lowering the density of the wood to achieve this thus weakening the bat drastically.
DRAG: Is wind resistance of the bat through the air in this case. The more mass, the more drag. Meaning a big barrel bat will have more drag verses a small barrel bat. Drag works against you as a hitter as it decreases our bat speed. A big barreled bat will have more drag because of the mass, a lower density, decreasing the pop and durability.
END LOADED or TOP HEAVY: A bat that carries a majority of its overall weight in the barrel is considered end loaded. Another way to put it is the bats balance point is further towards the end of the bat. This is bad thing usually unless you like the end loaded feel.
BALANCED: A bat that is balanced has its weight distributed more evenly across the whole bat, or more towards the hands. This is good thing.
CUPPED: The myth is that it takes weight out of the bat. Not true. A manufacture will cut a bat to a -3 with or without a cup. All cupping does is remove ¾ of an ounce from the end of the bat allowing the manufacture to select a piece of wood ¾ of an ounce heavier or denser. So basically you are not removing weight, you are just redistributing it and pushing the balance point a little towards the hands. We recommend cupping all wood bats unless you like an end loaded feel.
So with all this said let’s compare two of the more popular models in baseball. The C271 verses the C243.
The C271 has the advantages of balance, high density, low mass and drag. Balance, low mass and little drag with help with bat speed, and density will give you great pop and durability.
The C243 has some distinct disadvantages however. The balance has moved towards the end of the bat because ¾ of its mass is in the large barrel. End loaded bats decrease your bat speed. The larger, less dense barrel creates more drag through the air decreasing your bat speed, and the less dense wood has less pop and won’t be as durable.
So why do guys like Albert Puljos and other MLB studs use these big barreled bats and have great success doing so when we are here telling you to consider a bat with a smaller barrel? Well two reasons and one and most importantly you have to remember these guys are freaks of nature, the best of the best and they are just really strong guys. And two, they use heavier bats all together. Most MLB players use something close to a 34” 33 ounce bat giving the bat a high density and mass. High density and mass are a deadly combo for really strong hitters who can still generate great bat speed.
Back to reality, if you are reading this you are likely not a freak and need to be realistic about choosing a wood bat. We suggest evaluating yourself as a hitter. Remember, you want the hardest bat that you can actually swing. If you are new to wood start small then work your way up. Bigger, stronger and more experienced hitters can use bigger bats.
About the wood itself.
Maple: Naturally the harder wood of the bunch and harder is better but does come with a price. Maple will almost always be more end loaded. However, the reason maple seems more end loaded then birch or ash is not because of its high density, it’s because most maple bats even though advertised as -3 are actually -2 meaning they are just heavier period. It is really hard to get a maple bat to a true -3 because there is simply not that much wood light enough to make a -3’s in maple. This can be a good thing however and is why maple tends to have more pop, it’s denser and harder in a -2, then a -3. And as long as you can keep your bat speed up this is a good thing. Maple is best in medium and small barreled bats.
Birch: Birch is nearly identical to maple in composition, both woods are very dense and lack porous grains like ash. You may notice birch is a little darker them maple. Bat makers love birch because the starting weights are more consistent and abundant in the desired ranges then maple. Most would say that a birch bat verses a maple bat would have better balance. This is usually true but not because of the density of the wood itself, but because manufactures are able to true -3 ounce bats more often with Birch and Ash vs Maple. Birch is a great choice for any model but especially the larger barreled bats.
Ash: Ash is fickle wood. The very porous wood is horribly inconsistent because of the variations in the thickness of the pores and growths rings. No two are the same. Don’t be discouraged though. This affordable wood is easy to get in a true -3 which helps with balance and bat speed. Ash does tend to last longer than maple or birch because of the structure of the grains. Often with ash you will get grain separation or “splintering” in the barrel before you get breakage. Taping up your bat during BP will help with this. As far as we are concerned a good ash bat will hit just as good as a maple or birch bat. We love ash for its affordability and durability so newer wood bat users should start with ash to avoid breaks, and every hitter should have a couple ash bats in their batting practice bag. Why bust your favorite maple or birch gamers in the cage. Also, seasoned hitters will enjoy the true -3 balance of ash in their favorite big barreled models.
MLB Ink Dot Certification
What is this all about? If you see a bat for sale on our site advertising a “pro ink dot” that bat would pass a MLB Ink Dot Inspection, therefore it is truly MLB worthy. An ink dot is placed on the handle, as the ink flows with the internal grains that we normally can’t see with our own eyes it can then be measure for straightness. The thing about maple and birch is the light grains you can see are irrelevant, there are grains within the grains that we cannot see. In recent years it has been determined the reason maple and birch bats were blowing up is because the grains we not actually straight. The grains you see with your eyes could be straight but the ones we can’t see might be at a 10 degree slant making the bat week. MLB wants the slope of grain to be 3 degrees or less and that is what you can measure with the ink dot. So what does this mean to me as a hitter? Well, the bat is stronger if hit properly with the logo up. But that’s the catch, on all ink dot bats the logo has been moved onto the edge grain as opposed to the face grain like we normally see. This is very controversial in our industry because if you hit with the logo up with an ink dot bat you are hitting off the softer side of the barrel. However, if you turn your ink dot bat and hit off the edge grain you are voiding the benefits of an ink dot certified bat. Some people think hitting off the hardest part of the barrel will give you more pop. And some people think if you hit off the softer face grain the flex you now get will push the ball further. The reason why is when you hit with an ink dot bat the wood can now flex and not break. If you were to hit off the face grain of a bat that would not pass a MLB Ink Dot Inspection it would surely break after a few hits because the grain within the grain is not straight enough to hold the bat together when flexing. The best thing to do it try both and make a decision for yourself. Both theories are sound and are proven to work but you may like one over the other.