The Perfect Fit In A Baseball Bat
John Ryan Jr.
There are three major parameters to consider when fitting a bat to a ballplayer. Height and weight are the first parameters to consider. A little leaguer cannot march up to the plate with a Ruthian 42 inch wooden club, but he needs more than a toothpick.
Second, understanding what a bat is made of, wood or composite metals, is also extremely important. Lighter is not always better. Just ask Tyrus Cobb who believed baseball was about base hits and moving runners along, not hitting home runs.
Thirdly, determining the technology of the bat, its barrel size, taper, grip and weight are underrated aspects of the batting choice. If George Brett had used grips affixed to the handle instead of pine tar he would not have had a home run nullified against the Yankees in 1983.
The first parameter is the perfect starting point. Two charts describing the relationship between age, height, weight, and length of bat can be viewed under The Perfect Fit In A Bat on the blog page at Diamond Baseball Bats.
The second parametric decision concerns bat materials. With the current banning of metallic bats around the country the only choice may be wood in the not too distant future. Ash, maple, birch, bamboo, hickory, or combinations of each can be selected. The quality of the wood is the most salient feature. The big duh is the higher the quality wood the better the bat. This means the longer and wider the grain from older, denser trees, the better. Wood lends itself to the perfect fit more than its metallic cousin. High quality ash beats lower quality maple every time. Wood brings a classic feel, and oh that great sound! The bat maker’s sense of wood quality is everything in the baseball bat business. Now with the Little League moratorium on composite bats bat quality has become a primary focus for players and their sponsors.
Composite metal bats are still available, however. Some state jurisdictions intend to test their trampoline effects and make the impact of a batted ball more like that of the wood bats. Metal bats are supposedly more durable than wood bats and are alloyed with combinations of zirconium, zinc, copper, magnesium, graphite, titanium and aluminum. Aluminum alloys that are frozen and then reheated provide the greater durability while lessening sting and elongating the flight of the ball. Manufacturers claim that metal bats have a wider sweet spot than wood bats, but this is unproven.
Wood bats can be shaped, sized and tapered to a ballplayer’s swing. It is really the only way to go if you know exactly what you want.
Baseball leagues around the country have seen plenty of changes over the past year or so. Most have focused on BBCOR bats, but there are changes across the board.
Citing safety concerns caused by the exit speeds of some composite bats, some leagues have banned composite-barreled baseball bats. Others have not. Add in the new BBCOR performance standard, and things can quickly get confusing.
This post is a guide for parents, guardians and players looking for new bats or making sure their current bats will be legal.
Heading into the 2012 baseball season, Little League’s bat rules look like this:
Minor League Baseball Compositebarreled bats will be banned, some have been reallowed
9 10 Year Old Baseball Division Composite-barreled bats will be banned, some have been reallowed
Little League Baseball (Majors) Composite-barreled bats will be banned, some have been reallowed
Junior League Baseball Compositebarreled bats will be banned, some have been reallowed, and all BBCOR certified bats will be allowed
Senior League Baseball All bats must be BBCOR certified
Big League Baseball All bats must be BBCOR certified
For the Minors, 9 10s and Majors, nothing has changed since last season. Some composite-barreled baseball bats will be prohibited in sanctioned competitions. Wood bats, metal bats and metal bats with composite handles known as hybrid bats will not be affected.
Little League has granted waivers for specific composite-barreled baseball bats that have been proven to stay within Little League’s bat performance specs.
It’s a similar set up in Juniors baseball. Many composite barreled bats are banned, but certain bats will be allowed if they made Little Leagues list of reapproved 2 5/8 composite bats or if they are BBCOR certified.
The Seniors and Big League classifications follow NFHS rules, so only bats with the BBCOR stamp will be legal in those leagues this season.
Babe Ruth/Cal Ripken
This is where Babe Ruth and Cal Ripken stand, going into the 2012 season:
Cal Ripken: All 2 1/4″ bats with BPF 1/15 stamps will be allowed in the Cal Ripken Major, Minor, Rookie and T-Ball Divisions
Babe Ruth 13-15: All aluminum-barreled baseball bats will be allowed; all composite-barreled bats must be BBCOR certified
Babe Ruth 16-18: Only BBCOR certified baseball bats will be allowed
PONY has not restricted the use of composite-barreled bats in any of its divisions.
Dixie has not released a decision on what to do with its Boys league in 2012, but this is how things stand as of now:
Youth: All 2 1 4 inch aluminum barreled bats will be allowed, All 2 1 4 composite-barreled that are marked Approved for Play in Dixie Youth Baseball and stamped BPF 1.15 will be legal for league and tournament play if it has a manufacture date stamp of 2011 or later. Older aluminum/metal alloy 2 bats which do not have the BPF 1.15 stamp on the bat are allowed if stamped approved for play in Dixie Youth Baseball.
Boys: The division did not restrict the use of composite-barreled bats in 2011. The league has not released a decision on 2012.
Majors and Pre-Majors: Both leagues follow the NFHS rulebook, so only BBCOR certified baseball bats will be allowed.
In 2012, USSSA will begin phasing in a new bat certification mark. Here’s how things look
Small barrel bat leagues (2 1 4): Bats with the USSSA mark, new or old, will be allowed in 2012 and 2013. Starting in 2014, bats must have the new USSSA mark.
14U Big barrel (2 5 8″ or 2 3 4″): Bats must have the new USSSA mark or they must be BBCOR certified
15U Big barrel (2 5 8″ or 2 3 4″): All bats must be BBCOR certified
Starting in 2012, American Legion will require all bats to be BBCOR certified.
As we understand it, here’s how AAU’s bat rules will look in 2012
9 14U: There will be no restrictions (no change from 2011)
15U and up: All bats must be BBCOR certified
How to select a baseball bat
Only a baseball player knows the value of his bat. There are stories of players who love their bats so much that they even sleep with them. They spend lots of time to keep their bats in ready to fight condition. It is important, therefore, to be very careful while selecting a proper bat.
Aluminium vs. wood bats
Baseball bats are made of two materials wood and aluminium or aluminium alloy. It needs hardly to be mentioned that a wooden bat is heavier than an aluminium bat even if the aluminium is of cheaper quality. It is not easy to give a hard and effective swing or generate speed with a wooden bat. Wooden bats cannot wield the kind of power that the aluminium bats do.
Length, weight and drop
A good maple baseball bat is one whose length, weight and drop allow you to swing it comfortably. If you feel inconvenient handling it after a few swings, dont go for it. The lighter the bat, the more speed you can generate with it. A difference of mere one or two ounces in weight can make a huge difference in the swing.
A thumb rule to select a proper bat is to hold it by its handle and extend your arm so that you form an L with your body. Count 10 while you hold the bat at your shoulder level. If you feel tired, this bat is not for you.
Another important factor is the feel of the bat, which is a matter of individual choice. There are people who rip off the leather on the handle and replace it with a thin plastic tape. The idea is to make the handle as thin as possible. There are others who do exactly the opposite and make the handle much thicker than the original. They feel comfortable with the thicker handle.
If you are looking for custom baseball bats, you can visit www.xbats.com. The XBATs baseball bats are the finest bats chosen by the most discriminating Major Leaguer to the serious youth and amateur players.