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07/26/2013

How Do I Select an Adult Wood Baseball Bat?

How Do I Select an Adult Wood Baseball Bat?

With so many adult wood bat options out there, one can get easily caught up in all of the combinations that are possible. We hope to help simplify the selection process for you with this guide. The two most important factors to consider when selecting your wood bat are (1.) the turn model that best fits your hitting style, and (2.) the type of wood/materials the bat is made from. These two characteristics will have the greatest impact in the feel and durability of a particular wood bat. Let’s get started:

(1.) The Turn Model

The turn model of a wood bat can be considered a “blueprint” for various characteristics that affect its swing weight and feel. If you’re having trouble selecting the turn model that best fits your hitting style, we’ve listed the popular wood bat turn models below:

110
Barrel Diameter: 2 ½”
Taper: Long
Handle Thickness: 1.00”

The 110 turn has the most balanced swing weight of the standard turn models. This is a great option for a player who is new to wood bats because it helps ease the transition from a BBCOR model. The thick handle also adds to the bat’s durability. The 110 turn is a very popular choice among contact hitters who are looking for more bat speed through the hitting zone.

271
Barrel Diameter: 2 ½”
Taper: Long
Handle Thickness: 15/16”

The 271 turn feels very similar to the 110 turn, but it has a quicker taper between the barrel and handle. This turn model can comfortably be used by contact or power hitters because of its slightly end loaded swing weight.

I-13
Barrel Diameter: 2 ½”
Taper: Medium
Handle Thickness: 15/16”

The I-13 features very similar dimensions to the 271. The big difference is that the taper of the bat is more extreme, so it will have more of an end loaded swing feel than the 271 turn. The I-13 is a popular choice among power hitters who are looking for more mass in the barrel.

243
Barrel Diameter: 2 ⅝”
Taper: Medium
Handle Thickness: 29/32”

The 243 turn model features the largest barrel diameter and thinnest handle of the common turn models. It’s a great model for a power hitter who’s looking for that end loaded swing feel. This turn model may also be a little harder to control for someone new to wood bats, or a contact hitter.
Now that we’ve covered the turn model, let’s move on to the material your bat is crafted from and what benefits each wood offers to the player:

(2.) Common Types of Wood Used in Bats

Ash
Ash is the lightest of the common wood types used in bats. With its lightweight feel, contact hitters often choose Ash bats for increased bat speed. With the combination of its light feel and good durability, Ash is pound-for-pound the strongest type of wood you can choose. Ash has a wider grain structure than other woods, so it will have a “softer” feel and flexes during the swing. This flex is more forgiving and creates additional bat whip through the hitting zone. One down side of Ash is that its layers tend to flake or delaminate after extensive use.

Bamboo
Bamboo bats are made by taking Bamboo strips and pressing them together to form one billet. The bat is then turned from this billet into a particular turning model. Believe it or not, Bamboo has a stronger tensile strength than steel, and this manufacturing process enhances that strength. Depending on the turn model, Bamboo bats have a light swing weight.

These bats offer better durability than traditional wood bats, and most Bamboo models will carry warranties backed by their manufacturers. Although it has often been a popular option for a batting cage bat, these models are great options for wood bat league play. To be used in High School or Collegiate play, adult bats made of Bamboo must be adorned with the BBCOR .50 certification mark; and currently, Bamboo is not approved by Major League Baseball.

Birch
Birch wood bats have become more popular in the last few years. Birch wood bats are in-between Ash and Maple when comparing weight, flexibility, and hardness. This wood is much harder than Ash; but it is still flexible and provides a forgiving feel. It has a nice, responsive barrel due to its hardness which is a characteristic shared with similar Maple models. The combination of hardness and flexibility allow Birch wood bats to have a lower breakage rate than other wood types.

Composite Wood
There are a few types of bats that qualify as composite wood models. They include: Bamboo bats wrapped in a Composite sheath, a Bamboo core wrapped with Maple laminate and a Composite handle with a Maple or Ash barrel. First and foremost, Composite wood bats feature great durability; and most of these models are backed by a manufacturer’s warranty.

For league play, Adult Composite wood bats must meet the BBCOR certification and carry that stamp. Even with these stamps, some leagues do not allow the use of Composite Wood bats, so it’s always best to check with a coach or league official prior to purchasing one. Composite wood bats will give you similar results to a standard wood bat, but have the added benefit of a longer useful life. These models are great for players who are new to using wood bats and are popular options for a cage bat.

Maple
Maple is a very dense wood with a greater surface hardness than Ash; so a bat crafted from it will have a very responsive barrel. By this we mean that you are able to feel the ball leave the bat on contact. Maple has a much tighter grain structure than Ash, so it is less prone to flaking. Because of its density, Maple wood bats often have a heavier feel to them than Ash or Bamboo.

Many high-end Maple models will have what’s called an “Ink Dot Test” applied to them. This Ink Dot demonstrates the straightness/slope of the grain. Bats with low grain slope will exhibit better durability and performance. Also, whichever side the test is applied, will be the hardest side of the bat and should be the side that contact is made.

*No matter what wood type you select, you want to ensure that contact is made with the label facing either straight up or straight down. Wood bats are designed so that the area to the left or right of the label is the strongest side of the wood grain. Following this simple bat care tip can help you get the most useful life out of your new wood bat.

When a player finds their preferred combination of turn and material, they typically use that design for many years. JustBats offers many wood bat designs, and our bat experts are ready to answer any of your questions via phone, email, or live chat. Our toll-free number is: 866-321-2287, and we’d love to find the right wood bat to fit your style. And remember, send in your pictures or video bat review for a chance to win a $25 or $300 JustBats gift card. New winners are selected each week, and it’s so easy to ENTER.


 

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