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A bat is a must-have piece of equipment for baseball players. As Ben Walker wrote in his Research about The Properties of a Baseball Bat, "Every batter has unique psychological approaches, swing mechanics, habits, and characteristics. Even so, one thing about hitting is true for every hitter: Every time he walks up to the plate, he has only one tool to work with." A baseball bat.
Many components go into choosing a baseball bat for your player. Below explains the different parts of the bat, and will help you understand what a good quality bat is made of.
Anatomy of a Bat
KNOB: Helps keep the bat from slipping out of a batter's hand; Also helpful for hanging on a bat rack for storage
GRIP: Typically covered by tape or a bat gripping aid, this is where a batter will place his or her hands when swinging
TAPER: This section is where the thin handle transitions into the wider barrel
BARREL: The thickest area of the bat where a batter should look to make contact with a baseball or softball
CAP: Finishes off the barrel; Often helps increase control while limiting the bat's overall swing weight
Every non-wood baseball bat has a weight and "drop" weight. Bat weights are shown in ounces, while drop weights are shown as negative numbers.
The drop weight is determined by subtracting the weight of the bat from its length
For example, a bat that’s 30 inches long and weighs 20 ounces will have a drop weight of -10.
The larger the drop weight, the lighter the bat
For example, a bat with a -13-drop weight is lighter than a bat with a -10 drop weight.
Lighter bats are often best for beginners and smaller, contact-oriented players. Heavier bats are better suited for older, advanced athletes and larger, power-hitting players.
Some National Governing Bodies will dictate which drop a player is allowed to swing.
For example, High school and college players will need a BBCOR-approved bat (which has a -3 drop weight).
Choosing a Bat
Helping your player find the right-sized bat can be tricky. Here are a few tricks to help you.
Choosing the correct length Youth Bat: start by measuring his/her Height. Be sure you measure WITH his/her baseball cleats on. Stand a bat next to your child and compare him/her to the bat. The bat should reach your Child's hip. If it reaches past his/her hip area, it is going to be too long to swing.
Choosing the correct weight Youth Bat: Weigh him/her. Weight is a contributing factor to which bat he/she should swing because the Little League bat size chart uses a combination of weight and height to determine the best bat choice. In general, children under 60 points should swing a bat between 26 and 29 inches long. Children weighing more than 70 pounds should swing a bat ranging from 28 to 32 inches long.
Below is a chart to help determine the right bat size for your player. A general rule to follow is never go up more than an inch at a time. That makes it easier to adjust to your new bat without drastically changing your swing.
Types of Bats Explained
One-piece bats are made of one, continuous piece of material throughout.
This type of construction makes for a stronger bat with more balance — making it a great option for beginner baseball players.
One-piece baseball bats demand more power to hit the ball further. They also tend to vibrate more on contact with the ball.
Two-piece bats are constructed by fusing a barrel and handle together at the end of the manufacturing process.
This split design can provide more flex on contact with the ball and less vibration — making them a good option for players who want to avoid that stinging feeling when they hit the ball.
You may also feel more ‘whip’ in your swing with a two-piece bat, giving you more speed and power.
Alloy bats are durable and come ready for use.
No break-in period, along with their affordability, makes them a great choice for training.
Although they have a smaller sweet spot than other materials, their ability to withstand any temperature means how you hit the ball won’t change with the weather.
Wood bats are the most popular type of bat and offer the best balance for a more controlled swing — although they do lack the power and durability of an alloy bat.
They are most often made of ash, maple, or birch wood.
Because varying wood types can yield a variety of overall bat quality, wood bats often have a drop weight of 3 to standardize purchasing.
Composite baseball bats are crafted with materials such as reinforced carbon fiber polymers that reduce vibration and tend to have larger sweet spots.
They can put a lot of pop and power behind your swing and are good for reducing the sting felt by making poor contact.
They’re more expensive than other types and typically require a break-in period of about 150-200 hits. They’re also temperature-sensitive and not recommended to use in weather colder than 65°F.
Hybrid bats are crafted from a blend of aluminum alloy and composite components working in tandem. These baseball bats deliver the best characteristics of alloy and composite bats.
They typically utilize the composite handle’s knack for reducing vibration and complementing it with the alloy barrel’s no break-in period feature.
They’re also comparably lightweight but on the more expensive end of types of bats.