At JustBats.com, we receive a lot of questions about baseball bats and softball bats. One of the most common questions that our Bat Experts receive is, "How do I know if my bat is dead?" To ease your mind, we're going to answer this question and outline the best way to determine whether or not it's time for a new bat.
Keep in mind that it is difficult to determine if a bat is dead or not without actually using it, seeing it, or listening to the sound it makes on contact with a ball. So, we're going to layout the tell-tale signs to consider. If you are still unsure as to whether or not your bat is dead, even after reading this article and answering the following eight questions, please give our friendly Bat Experts a call at 866-321-BATS (2287) to find out what the next step is.
Do you see any cracks or dents?
You need to take the material of your bat into consideration when determining whether or not it is dead. Composite bats crack. Aluminum alloy bats dent.
For composite bats:
- First things first, a scratch is a cosmetic blemish that should not impact the performance of the bat. A crack is a deep separation of the outer wall of the bat and in most cases impacts the performance of the bat in a negative way.
- If you see a massive crack that has split your composite bat in half, then there's a great chance it is dead. On the other hand, look closely for hairline fractures, stress cracks, or spiral fractures. Sometimes the smallest of cracks can have a huge negative impact or none at all. It may vary from case-to-case.
- If you see a "spider web," this is a good thing in most cases. This tends to be a sign of the composite material being fully broken in and at its peak performance. The more fibers that are broken down, the greater the trampoline effect and the bigger the bounce off the bat is. That is until it eventually fails and the web turns into a crack.
- Don't let paint chips fool you. The cosmetics falling off of your bat is typical with normal use. Paint falling off the barrel does not mean your bat is dead.
- Due to the construction, you will not see cracks or fractures of any kind.
- When alloy bats go dead, you will notice significant dents in parts of the bat where it will start to concave.
- The best way to test for these dents is to run your hand across the barrel. If it is not smooth and you notice an indentation, this will have a negative impact on the performance and may be the beginning of your bat going dead.
Does your bat make an unusual sound?
This is one of the more personal ways to tell if your bat has officially died on you. But, only you will know if your bat is making a sound that is not right or different from when you first started swinging it. Keep in mind that all bats sound different from each other and there are no two bats that sound alike. Sometimes, you'll even notice that a composite bat can change sounds over time as it starts to break-in.
We have even heard of the tried and true method of holding your bat by the barrel and tapping the knob on the ground. If a bat is dead, it should make a dull thud sound. While if a bat is not dead, it should make a normal, high-pitched ping. The team at JustBats does not necessarily recommend using this method because it is never a good idea to hit your knob on the ground.
Speaking of sounds, does your bat have a rattle when you shake it? If it does, this doesn't always mean that your bat is dead. A rattle tends to be the epoxy glue that holds your end cap in place. Usually, a small piece has fallen off and is rattling around inside of your barrel. Some umpires will automatically deem your bat illegal when they hear this, and a rattle should be covered by your manufacturer's warranty (if you're within the time period). But, a rattle also does not usually have a negative impact on the overall performance of your bat. So, if an umpire allows it and the performance is not declining, keep swinging away.
Do your hands sting every time you hit a ball on the sweet spot?
Baseball is very much a mental sport. Some players can be in the middle of a bad hitting slump, feel some painful negative feedback, and then immediately declare that their bat is dead. Or, if a player has his teammates, coaches, and parents chirping in his ear that his bat may be dead, he or she is going to assume that it is dead. Most bats are falsely accused of being dead and are just not being hit in the sweet spot. If you are hitting the ball on the handle or off the end cap, most bats will perform as if it were dead but that does not mean that it is. Now, if you are certain that you're drilling the sweet spot during each at bat yet still experience serious sting in the hands, your bat may be on a downward decline towards death.
Has the performance or pop of the bat declined recently?
Keep in mind that composite bats do require a break-in period. Here at JustBats.com, we recommend about 150-200 swings off of a tee or by hand toss with a quarter rotation after each swing. Then, once you have completed those initial 150+ swings, hopefully, the barrel of your composite bat should be broken in. If you're not impressed with the performance of your composite bat right out of the box, don't automatically assume that it is dead. Break it in, use it in batting practice, and then use it in practice before jumping to conclusions. Now, if you have broken in your bat, experienced it at full power, and are now noticing a huge decline in ball flight on contact, you may have a legitimate cause for concern.
Now, if you know that your bat is fully broken in but the pop is starting to decline then your bat may be dead or well on its way. Unfortunately, most bats do lose their pop in time with enough use. All bats have a limited life. That is all part of hitting a hard object with another solid object. Have you heard why kids need new bats even if they got a new one last year? In short, bats wear with usage after a long, difficult season.
Is the handle getting pushed up into the barrel?
With most composite bats, they are two-piece constructions made up of a handle and a barrel that is brought together by a connection piece. On rare occasions, the connection piece may fail, and you will notice the handle starting to creep up into the barrel. If you notice this happening and you're covered by a warranty, get it replaced immediately. There is only a matter of time before your bat goes completely dead.
Has your knob fallen off or the end cap popped out?
Once a knob has fallen off, or an end cap has popped out, it is next to impossible to re-apply these pieces and get your bat back to its original state. You may have seen someone pop an end cap back in place and continue to use the bat. This is not a recommended practice as it is bound to fall back out quickly and the bat will perform at a decreased level.
Do you have access to a compression test?
For those slow pitch softball fans out there, this is one of the best ways to tell if your bat is dead. But, these testers are not always readily available. Most leagues will require that your bat gets tested before use. A league umpire or administrator should have access to at least one compression tester. These testers will determine if your bat is legal or illegal for play and can let you know whether or not your bat is dead, too hot, or compromised.
Are you applying proper preventive care?
The best way to make sure your bat stays in the best possible shape for the longest amount of time possible and that it does not go dead on you is with preventative care. Take care of the problem before it becomes a problem. Below is a list of bat care tips that will keep your bat performing at the highest level possible for the longest amount of time:
- Try not to share your bat with every teammate. Limit it to individual use, if possible.
- Avoid using your bat in temperatures below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Keep your bat out of extreme hot or cold temperature areas such as the trunk of your car.
- Do NOT clean your metal cleats with your bat.
- Use regulation baseballs and softballs only. Yellow rubber batting cage balls are bad.
- Do not hit waterlogged balls.
- Rotate your bat a quarter of a turn after each swing, if possible.
Almost all composite and aluminum bats purchased at JustBats.com come with a full twelve (12) month manufacturer's warranty. If you are positive that your bat is dead, let's get the warranty replacement process started as soon as possible. If you are still unsure and would like further clarification as to whether or not you have a dead bat, please give our knowledgable Bat Experts a call at (866-321-2287). You may also shoot them an email with pictures at firstname.lastname@example.org or click here to live chat. Remember, we're here for you from click to hit!