By Dan Shepler
The difference between grounding out and smashing a hit might very well come down to the right baseball bat. With more options than ever, finding the right fit for your physique and hitting style can be a challenge. Here are some simple tips to help boost your stats.
The best-selling option in the modern era is the aluminum baseball bat. Alloys allow for a thin barrel wall, optimizing the sweet spot. Requiring no break in, they’re great for use in colder weather without concern for damage.
Also popular are composite bats which have a larger sweet spot and boast more “pop.” Constructed from a combination of graphite, fiberglass, carbon and resin, these lightweight models promote a faster swing and minimize impact vibration.
More and more players are turning to hybrid or two-piece baseball bats. These cost-effective options showcase a lighter composite handle and alloy barrel. The main advantage is a whipping action that builds from the handle and helps get the barrel through the hitting zone with more speed and power.
Balancing bat size and weight are critical factors when it comes to maximizing swing control, consistent contact and power.
If a bat is too heavy, ground balls and strikeouts become more common than line drives. Not enough weight will likely result in pop-ups. That’s why many power hitters tend to swing for the fences with heavy bats, while smaller players opt for lighter models to help them elevate bat speed.
It’s also important to note that many players own baseball bats of multiple weights. They’ll shift from one perfectly weighted for their full-strength approach, to a slightly lighter model that helps mitigate the impact of fatigue deep in a game or later in the season.
While you need to be able to reach balls on the outside of the plate, there are rule limits on length. Plus, every inch adds extra weight that can slow bat speed. That’s where weight drops come in. It’s a proportion comparing bat weight to length. Larger ratios help increase swing speed, while smaller figures create more power. Composite bats must have a -3 drop, which equates to three ounces less than the length.
Options for barrel diameters are limited, since they’re fixed by league regulations. Youth bats generally are 2 1/4”, adults (including high school and college) allow 2 5/8” and senior leagues permit 2 3/4”.
Numerous manufacturers produce high-quality baseball bats, nearly all of whom have a range of offerings. Easton remains the top-selling brand at Baseball Express, followed by the iconic Louisville Slugger and Rawlings. The new DeMarini Vexxum and Voodoo baseball bat models are quickly becoming popular additions to lineups from coast to coast.
Dan Shepler, a former college baseball player, is Product Manager for BaseballExpress.com, which features 25,000-plus items from adidas, DeMarini, Easton, Louisville Slugger, Mizuno, New Balance, Nike, Rawlings, Under Armour, Wilson and other premium brands.