As I was sitting at home watching the World Series these past few nights I was overwhelmed at the number of players who swing maple bats today. Just a few years ago all but a select few of MLB players swung ash bats and now close to 90% of major league hitters choose maple. So why did everyone change?
Why Ash? Ash is a very strong timber and very light weight. Pound per pound, ash is the strongest timber available. Ash has a flexibility that isn’t found in other timbers, like maple. It tends to flex rather than break. This gives you a larger, more forgiving sweet spot in terms of breakage. Ash is also lighter than maple, giving you a wider range of large barrel models. One down side to ash is that it tends to flake or delaminate after extensive use.
Why Maple? Maple is very dense timber with a greater surface hardness than ash. Some players believe this hardness gives them better performance. Maple is a closed-grained timber with a structure similar to layers in a laminated product. This makes the bat less prone to flake than an ash bat and allows for a maple bat to be more durable. When a maple bat breaks, it tends to snap in half rather than just splinter like ash. The heavier weight of maple makes it difficult to make lightweight large barrel models. Most players who use maple use a model with a small barrel to get the bat weight they desire.
In 2001 Barry Bonds made a name for himself smashing homeruns. He was the talk of the town and everyone begin to try and immolate Barry in hopes they could get similar performance. One of the first things they copied was his bat. Barry had long been a maple fan and as a result many players started swinging maple bats. With maple bats appearing at the plate on the reg, players around the nation began to fall in love with the harder wood. Today’s athlete is much different than athletes of the past. Strength and conditioning coaches are a mainstay in every clubhouse. With stronger players the weight disadvantage with maple became a non issue.
As you enjoy the last few days of the baseball season take a look at what bats the pros are swinging. Just the other night Albert Pujols crushed 3 homeruns with his maple Marucci AP5. JustBats.com has the largest selection of maple and ash bats on the web. Get yours today.