Baseball bats are typically made of aluminum, composite, or wood. Aluminum bats are usually made of aluminum alloy, while composite bats are usually made of carbon fiber and fiberglass. Wood bats are usually made of ash, maple, birch, true hickory, or red oak.
In terms of popularity, the ranking of bats used by pro players in Major League Baseball (MLB) is maple, ash, and birch. Here are the benefits of each:
Maple – Bats made of maple are stiff and less flexible when hitting a ball. The strength and thickness of the wood provide an additional boost for hit balls, and typically the sluggers with home run power will use maple bats. Maple is a dense wood, so these bats don’t break too easily, but they can retain moisture which lowers bat speed over time with increased weight.
Ash – These bats provide a bit more flexibility, which offers faster bat speed for players. Over time, they do tend to get more porous, which can lead to breaking.
Birch – This bat splits the difference between ash and maple, offering a combination of durability and flexibility. Over time, the bat shaft takes a beating and will show dents from hit balls.
The biggest manufacturers of baseball bats include Louisville Slugger, Rawlings, DeMarini, Easton, and Marucci. Major League Baseball has pretty firm rules on bats: The bat should be one solid piece of wood, and the smooth, round stick cannot be more than 2.61 inches in diameter at the thickest point and no longer than 42 inches. Other leagues have different regulations on bat size, weight, and materials.
In college baseball, as of 2011, only aluminum alloy bats are allowed to be used during games. Each bat must be comprised of a single piece of alloy, which can be made with copper, magnesium, aluminum, and zirconium. These materials are combined to make a bat with different weights and durability. As of 2009, composite bats, including graphite and titanium, were banned because of dangerous exit velocity speeds, and players learned to hit them in a way that made the ball travel faster and farther.
In little league, new bat standards were implemented in 2018. Players must use a USABat standard bat or BBCOR (bat-ball coefficient of restitution) at an Intermediate (50/70) for baseball and junior league baseball divisions. When players reach senior league baseball divisions, they must all follow the BBCOR standards. The website, USABat, has a complete list of all approved bats for use in little league.
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