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What Is the Best Wood for Baseball Bats? What You Need To Know!

baseball bats

Although birch and ash are common wood types for baseball bats, maple is the most popular material. It makes up about 75% to 80% of bats in the major leagues. Maple is loved because of its density and hardness, which are advantageous in the context of baseball. Thus, maple is the best wood overall.

Still, maple might not be the right bat material for you. There are plenty of factors to consider and other wood types you might be interested in. Scroll down to learn more about why maple is the best wood for baseball bats and two other options to consider.

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About Maple Bats

Maple wood is one of the most popular species to be made into a baseball bat. It is incredibly dense, which results in increased hardness and durability. Since baseball bats undergo a lot of pressure, the durability of maple is greatly appreciated.

Dense and Durable

The hardness and density of maple allow the ball to pop off the bat more easily. Although this pop might not make a huge difference, it is enough that most Major League players prefer the maple baseball bat over other wood types.

Something else that relates to the durability of the maple bat is its close grain. Unlike other woods, maple has a diffused porous wood, which allows it to hold together easily, even under high-intensity impact. As a result, the grains will actually press against one another when you hit the bat, preventing flakes and splinters.

Potentially Dangerous and Heavy

That being said, close grain can make maple woods more dangerous. Although it takes a lot of force for a maple bat to shatter, they literally shatter into thousands of pieces if broken. These wood pieces will go everywhere, and they can be dangerous if they happen to land in your eye.

Another downside of maple bats is that they can gain moisture over time. As the bat gains moisture, it will actually get heavier. Because of this fact, maple is not as popular of a bat type in incredibly humid environments.

Pros
  • Very dense
  • Hardest material
  • Encourages ball to pop off the bat
  • Don’t have to worry about flaking
  • Most popular wood in the Major Leagues
Cons
  • Expensive
  • Can shatter
  • Susceptible to moisture and humidity

divider 1Other Wood for Baseball Bats

Even though maple bats are the most popular, there are two other wood types frequently used in baseball bats: birch and ash. Both kinds of wood have their own benefits and drawbacks, much like maple.

Birch

Birch is much softer than maple, allowing it to be a bit more flexible. With practice, flexibility can be used to the player’s advantage. You can generate more bat speed because of the flexibility. Even though it is softer, it doesn’t easily fall apart, and it doesn’t flake either.

The drawback to birch is that it can be dented a bit easier than maple, and it needs a break-in time. This break-in time will help you learn how to use a more flexible bat and to make the bat harder. Until you get used to the bat, you will not be able to hit the ball as hard or quickly as you would with maple.

Pros
  • Flexible
  • Does not flake
  • Forgiving material
Cons
  • Requires break-in time
  • Softer upon purchase

Ash

The more traditional baseball bats are made of ash, not maple. Northern white ash is especially the most popular and it is actually very similar to some aluminum bats in feel. Ash is flexible like birch, which makes it more forgiving and increases the speed with skill.

The problem with ash bats is that you have to know where to hit the ball. If the ball hits the bat face grain, you can expect the bat to begin to flake and splinter. As a result, ash is not a good option for inexperienced batters.

Pros
  • Traditional wood type
  • Flexible and forgiving
  • Can increase speed
Cons
  • Requires experience
  • Can flake and splinter

Which Material Is Right for Me?

What wood material should you select for your baseball bat? Unless you specifically want a flexible bat, you should select a maple bat. Maple is the most popular bat right now, and with good reason. Its hardness and density mean it requires less training, and it won’t flake like the other types.

Plus, most individuals who are just getting serious about baseball will not be able to hit the ball hard enough for it to splinter the bat. Hence, you don’t have to worry about the safety downside of maple bats.

If you want a flexible bat, consider birch instead. It has many of the same benefits as maple with enhanced flexibility. We recommend birch over ash since it is much more difficult to flake or splinter a Birch bat.

divider 1Final Thoughts

At the end of the day, maple is the best wood for baseball bats. It has increased durability and density, which allows the bat to withstand heavy hits. Even though it is very susceptible to moisture, it is worth the maintenance and upkeep due to its advantages.

Of course, birch and ash have their own benefits. For example, they are a great choice if you want a more flexible bat, though ash can be broken and flaked easily, making it less suited for beginners and many other players.


Featured Image Credit: MrsBrown, Pixabay

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