A wooden bat is a dense object as opposed to a metal bat which is hollow. With that established, A hitter has to constantly balance a wood bat, where a metal that can be swung affectively with an off-balance swing. Metal bats generally also offer a larger “sweet spot (Hitting surface)” than wood bats. With that said, when swinging wood, a player is challenged to balance their body mass, their efforts, and their intention with the bat, more so than if that player were swinging a metal bat.
Metal bats are standardized as opposed to wood bats, which come in a lot of different cuts and balances. The choice of a metal bat is very influenced by the technology in the bat, where the choice of a wood bat is attached to the cut of the bat (model), the type of wood, and the feel of the ball off of the bat.
Types of Wood
The list below offers different types of a wood along with their benefits/liabilities.
Hardwood/maple- Maple bats create stopping power at the concussion of contact. Mostly preferred by physically stronger players. This type of wood does not flex. Swinging a Maple bat will require a larger burst or investment of energy to get the bat started in the zone. Poorly hit balls will cause the bat to shatter. You generally get consistent high quality bats for the cost with maple.
Flexible/Ash- Ash is a softer and more flexible wood. The balance of the bat is more variable as a bat will be bending through the swing. The hitter is challenged to coordinate the flexing of the bat with the timing of the pitch which is described as a “feel for the barrel.” Hitting with ash creates a “slingshot” affect through the zone similar to what a golf club creates. Miss hit balls will cause the bat to fracture on the grains. Ash bats are generally the most sought after bats by major-league players. With that established, it can be difficult to find a quality ash bat in the retail market with there being such a demand for these bats at the higher levels…When it comes to ash, Major League players are offered a much higher quality and higher performing wood than the general public.
Hybrid(Flexible Hardwood)/Birch- Birch bats offer a hybrid of the two feels in it being a hardwood that offers some flexibility. Birch bats get harder with added use. Birch bats are generally the most durable, and the most expensive wood bats on the market. Like maple, birch bats are very consistent in quality.
***Composite Bats- Anytime you purchase and use a wood bat, you’re at risk of breaking it. Composite bats are artificial wood bats which offer a larger margin for error. These bats can withstand miss hit balls in ways that a standard wood bats cannot giving them a longer shelf life. These bats are ideal for players that invest a lot of time in training, and players that switch back-and-forth between metal bat and wood bat leagues/tournaments. The limitation of composite bats is that the cut of the bat is standardized to be made to resemble the balance of a metal bat. These bats offer minimal benefits in terms of custom feel and balance.
C271-This is the most balanced wood bats model. This bat features a flared handle with a smaller thinner sweet spot on the barrel. A player’s investment in effort from the knob of the bat will resulted in more movement at the other end of the bat then other models. This bat is great for players who rely on bat speed to create force into the ball. This is the most popular bat model in the US.
C243- This is an end loaded large barrel bat. This bat offers a much larger hitting surface then the 271. Great bat for a player who relies on a heavy weighted impact at contact to drive the ball. This is a great bat for young developing hitters as they are forced to invest more energy to get the bat head out in front of the plate.
M110-The M110 offers a long hitting service. This bat is ideal for switch hitters that try to mirror their swing from both sides of the plate, contact hitters, and players that use the base hit bunt as a weapon in their hitting approach. This is the most popular bat model in Japan.
I13- One of the newest bat models. This bat resembles the cut of a metal bat in it having a large barrel with a thin handle. This is a popular bat for power hitters that rely on a combination of bat speed and weighted force into the ball.
I hope this is helpful… Feel free to contact me if you have any additional questions.