Wood baseball bats are arguably the best kind of bat to start your journey with; if you can hit a ball with a wood bat, you can hit a ball with ANY type of bat. They’re extremely suitable for both youth baseball and adult baseball.
Firstly, you may be interested in watching this video from How It’s Made, showing you exactly how they get made from start to finish.
Types Of Wood
When it comes to baseball bat wood, there are a variety of different types. The type of wood you want for your baseball bat all depends on what kind of ‘feel’ you are looking for. Different players like different bats, and a baseball bats wood type is a key decision, so it’s important to read up on the characteristics of each type of wood.
Ash wood bats give the player a traditional feel and are a favourite amongst many because they like the ability to ‘feel’ the ball smack against the bat when hitting it. The wood has a lightweight characteristic and feels lighter in the hands of a player. These make them a preferred choice for a contact hitter. Ash bats are very often chosen for baseball practice because of their cost effectiveness and its optimal choice for training.
While not ‘strictly’ a wood bat (bamboo is of course grass), it is considered one. These are made with 100% bamboo strips, thus bamboo bats are very strong and the durability is excellent. They are not currently approved for Major League Baseball use and do require BBCOR (ball bat coefficient of restitution) certification for organised play.
These bats are approved for professional Major League Baseball play. Birch is often considered the ‘in-between’ type of bat between ash and maple; birch is harder than ash wood, but not as hard as maple. This makes birch a good option for players who like the aspects of both the ash and maple bats.
Composite bats are the most durable wood bats on the market today, making them a great option for wooden bat leagues or leagues that require bats to be BBCOR certified. A composite bat is quite often the go-to choice for the batting cage at batting practice.
These bats have little flexibility or feel, far from the lightest and are the heaviest and hardest type available. Their popularity has dwindled in recent years due to the emergence of the other types of wood bat, but if you prefer an ‘old school’ feel to your baseball bat, these are still a solid choice. These bats were regularly used in the earlier days of Major League Baseball (old hickory style), so may be more appealing to the older generation of players.
Maple wood bats are starting to become the most commonly used piece of baseball equipment in the game today. The players’ ability to control the bat during the swinging is reduced due to the heaviness of the wood, but the dense and hard-hitting surface of the bat makes it feel great in the swing and hitting a ball with and is why they are becoming the number one used bat. The harder the surface of the bat, the greater the speed the ball will travel off the bat.
There’s no right or wrong choice when it comes to wood type; it all depends on what you feel most comfortable with. Some players prefer a heavier bat to build more power in their striking of the ball, while other players will prefer a lighter bat for more control and swing speed.
Baseball players often test different wood types before settling on their preferred choice. The low cost of wood bats make it easy for players to test different types of wood before settling on a wood bat that suits their needs.
Things To Consider
Before choosing from the top five we have selected below, consider your own personal needs. Every baseball player, from minor league to big league, has different characteristics and different requirements. Some players are tall and muscular, others are shorter and more toned.
Your body characteristics will help guide you towards the right softball bat, so consider the following:
If you’re now getting into the game and consider yourself a beginner to intermediate, consider a lighter bat with a larger barrel. If you’ve been in the game a while and consider yourself intermediate to veteran, consider a heavier bat with a smaller barrel. Ultimately though, you need a bat which fits your own individual needs.
The last thing you want is for your new wood bat to be giving you blisters! Most bat manufacturers are adding sanded grips to their bats these days to prevent this from happening; it will be more costly to have a bat with a sanded grip, but much better for your hands in the long run.
The weight of the bat you choose will all depend on the flexibility of the players wrist and the weight of the player. Bats packed with power will allow a power hitter to smash the ball away with ease, but require the player to be well conditioned in strength to use properly. A lighter bat will be much easier to use for a player with less upper-body strength.
Like with bat weight, the barrel is important depending on the size of the player. The more muscular the player, the larger barrel bat they will need to be able to strike the ball properly. Bigger players will suit the big barrel bats whereas a player that can’t get great distance but can get great contact will be looking at a smaller barrel.
The thicker the handle, the less vibration you will feel between the barrel and the handle. If vibration isn’t too much of an issue for you, a thinner handle will allow your hands to move more easily. To minimize vibration, go for a thicker handle.
It goes without saying that the taller the player is, the longer the wood bat they will need. There’s no real ‘rule’ here but if you’re a tall player, you may feel more comfortable with a longer bat. If you’re a shorter player, a shorter bat could suit you more. This is open to individual needs.
Top 5 Best Wood Bats
Now you have a general idea of the type of wooden bat you may want, it’s time to have a look through the different wooden bats available. We have selected the top FIVE best wood bats (in no particular order, with youth and adult options) available in 2020 for you to review and decide on. There are a variety of different pricing options too to suit any budget:
Louisville Slugger Legacy S5
This cupped bat made from Northern White Ash Louisville is a force to be reckoned with. You can choose from 3 finishes with this bat– natural, matte black, and unfinished. The bat has slight-end loaded swing weight, and is available in sizes 32, 33, and 34. The Louisville Slugger Bat has a large sweet spot and good grip. It is also highly regarded for its balance and comfortable weight.
This wood baseball bat offers a well-vetted design that many players are comfortable with. Despite issues with ash wood in general, it is still favored by many players over maple or composite materials.
This is a well-priced bat that will suit players of all ages. It makes for a good practice bat for serious teams. There’s no denying that it is a reliable bat for both playing matches and practice sessions.
Even though many players believe ash bats will deliver more speed, ash wood still has problems with splintering and flaking.
This wood bat is made from Ash wood and contains a graphite finish. It has a balanced weight, and is available in sizes 27, 28, 29, 30 and 31. The Rawlings Adirondack is an ideal bat for players that are moving from lighter weight bats to heavier ones to suit their playing style. Even the wide range of baseball bat sizes to choose from makes it a popular choice. The Rawlings Adirondack is an economical bat that can be used by players who need a transition bat to move from one weight to another. It is available in a number of sizes and is well known for reliable performance.
Most players say this is a durable bat that can withstand a lot of hard hits and long hours of practice. It is also preferred because the baseball bat comes with a very comfortable grip and an even weight distribution.
As with other bats made of ash, the Ash Wood Baseball Bat is prone to splintering and flaking. Some players have also noticed the bat breaks apart fairly quickly.
Louisville Slugger MLB Prime
You can select size, shape, color, barrel thickness, and many other aspects of this Louisville bat. With this baseball bat, you can get a custom fit bat for your playing needs, just like professional MLB players. If you need a custom length, different handle thickness, or special weight options, this bat can also be customized to your needs.
This bat is economically priced for anyone that is playing professionally at the high school or college level. It will work well for both practice and professional play. This baseball bat will give you an advantage over other players that are using generically weighted and sized bats.
If you are interested in playing baseball professionally, a custom bat can help you get the most out of every swing. Birch wood is also rapidly gaining popularity as an ideal balance between ash and maple wood.
You must have some experience with different bats and sizes in order to recognize what will work best for your unique skills and abilities. Possibly selection is the only challenge with these bats. It will also help to work with a professional coach that can tell what bat characteristics will work best for you.
Marucci AP5 Pro
Cupped bat made from maple wood. This baseball bat has a black finish, and is Ink-Dot certified. This bat is evenly balanced and primarily designed for power hitters. The Marucci AP5 Pro Maple Natural/Black Wood Baseball Bat is available in size 32, and has a 29/32” handle. This bat is perfect for players that need to feel a strong connection and have a powerful swing. It has a good weight and even balance that many players prefer over designs.
For anyone that is looking to deliver the maximum amount of power during a game or practice, the Marucci AP5 Pro is well worth the price. It is made of good quality wood and is preferred by many players.
The Marucci AP5 Baseball Bat has a good reputation for being durable even when used by players that put a lot of power behind the swing. It is well suited for both practice and actual game play.
Even though maple is very popular with both professional and hobby baseball players, bats made from it will shatter into dangerous splinters when they break. There is a considerable amount of controversy over the safety of bats made from maple wood. Despite that only few other woods offer the hardness or power delivery of maple bats.
Old Hickory Rock
Old Hickory Rock is another popular wood baseball bat, cupped and made from maple wood. This bat has a black or natural finish. It comes in sizes 32, 33, and 34. This bat is designed to deliver a great deal of power when hitting the ball. Players often recommend it because it has excellent pop as well as a large sweet spot.
The Old Hickory Rock Wood Baseball Bat is an economically priced option that performs as well, if not better than more expensive bats available on the market today.
Rock Maple is a special grade of maple wood that has a straighter grain, and is therefore more durable.
As with other maple bats, the Old Hickory Rock Bat doesn’t offer a lot of flexibility. Some players may prefer it because of the power it delivers while others will be more comfortable with ash or birch.
The more care and maintenance you give to your new wood bat, the longer life it will have. Care and maintenance is very important, even with the best wooden baseball bats. You can spend hundreds of dollars on a top of the range bat; but if you don’t care well for it and maintain it, it will be reduced to nothing! If you want to keep your bat in top condition:
- Always use your bat ‘label up’ or ‘label down’
- Store your baseball bat in good conditions, keeping it away from damp conditions and direct sunlight.
- Do not throw your bat – it doesn’t matter what your bat is made of, they are not made for throwing!
- Don’t leave your bat in the car or in direct sunlight on a hot day – the heat will make your bat brittle and break down.
Baseball is a thriving, growing sport; and nothing is more important than having the best at your disposal and picking one that suits. If you want to succeed at Baseball, and maybe even have a future in the professional baseball game if you’re a younger player, you need one of the best wood bats on the market.
You might be interested in checking out some of the best BBCOR bats on the market if a BBCOR certified bat is required for you. We also have an article on the best youth baseball bats available, if you’re specifically looking for a bat for a young hitter. We also have a complete round up article on the best baseball bats across all categories!
It’s crucial to remember the most important rule of all when it comes to finding the best wood bats or any bat – YOU GET WHAT YOU PAY FOR! Pick a bat, get outside and enjoy the game of baseball!