Maybe you wonder why youth, high school, and college baseball players commonly use metal bats (aluminum or composite) while only specific leagues use wooden bats. Which one is better than the other?
The answer is that aluminum bats are banned in the major leagues for a reason. They are more powerful than wood bats, presenting a significant danger to opposing players when the batter is too strong. Alloy bats have higher performance, but swinging wood bats can have perks outside of wood bat leagues.
Keep reading to learn about the advantages of metal bats vs. wood bats, so you can pick which one suits you best.
Don’t forget to check out our baseball bat reviews.
- Marucci CAT 8 BBCOR Review
- DeMarini Voodoo BBCOR Review
- Victus Vandal BBCOR Bat Review
- Easton Maxum 360 BBCOR Review
- DeMarini The Goods BBCOR Review [2022-2020]
Metal Aluminum Bats
A metal bat, commonly known as an aluminum bat, is much lighter than a wooden bat, which increases swing speeds and makes it easier to hit the ball a greater distance. There are also bigger barrels of aluminum bats and a larger sweet spot, the bat space where you can hit the baseball.
This is an advantage because it will increase your percentage of getting a hit, allowing your batting average to grow.
Bats made of aluminum and composite materials have a trampoline effect. This implies that the thin aluminum flexes when the ball hits, transferring some of the ball’s energy. This impact increases the hits’ speed and distance, so in major league baseball, aluminum bats are prohibited. MLB wants the game to be based on ability, not technology.
There is another advantage of aluminum bats: They are tough to break. They tend to break down over the years but do not “snap in half” as wood bats do.
A wooden bat is thicker and has a smaller sweet spot, ensuring the baseball is much harder to strike. Your swing needs to be more precise to make contact. However, by practicing with a wooden bat, you can enhance your hitting efficiency. Practicing with wooden baseball bats allows you to understand better the strike zone and better discipline on the plate.
One downside is that wooden bats break very often. With a wide barrel and a thin handle, wooden bats are designed so that it tends to snap if the ball comes into contact with the wrong portion. Even if you find a solid wood bat made of the best materials, the bat breaking is a real possibility.
Why Choose Aluminum Bats?
- Larger Sweet Spot for More Hitting Area: On a metal bat, the area of the bat to reach optimum power (“sweet spot”) is more extensive, usually around two to six inches from the end of the bat.
- Can Transform Bat-Breaking Pitches into Singles: Metal holds out against miss-hits farther down the barrel, toward the middle of the bat, much better than a wood bat can.
Why Choose Wood Bats?
- More Responsive: With more feedback on contact, wooden bats force a hitter to learn improved mechanics and hit the ball.
- Improved strength and shape: compared to artificial, light metal bats that create a golf-like swing due to the weight being all in the overweight or extra-long barrel, an adequately weighted wood bat, in total value and the weight distribution across the entire bat, yields better balance to drive the ball.
- Better Pitch Discipline: Swing at a bad pitch can result in stinging hands or a broken bat. You’ll understand the strike zone better by knowing the barrel of your bat.
- Sweet Spot and Feel on Contact: The secret to making good contact and optimizing your at-bat outcome is to learn the sweet spot (the optimal area to strike on a bat). Even metal bats have an optimal region to hit, but they do not give you optimal feedback to learn this. When you swing a metal bat, wood shows you the optimal area that carries over. It’s not a street in two directions!
A quality wood bat manufacturer gets it; you want a barrel as complete as possible, a barrel as light as possible, a barrel as long as possible, and more squared-up baseballs.
However, there is no doubt the “bigger” bat is given to you by metal and composite bats. And, off the handle, you get more “excuse me” singles that might otherwise crack a wood bat. Metal and composite bats are hollow, allowing them, regardless of hitter form, to be made as light as legally possible: contact, extra bases, or a power hitter.
A solid, correctly weighted, single-piece wood baseball bat has a smaller optimum hitting area (typically 2″-6 “from the barrel end). Wood bats can reach only a specific barrel diameter and length until they are too bulky and too heavy overall.
But does it mean you’re going to go for a metal bat? Not so easy. Compared a hitter with wood bats vs. metal bats, first, observe the 3 Key Differences.
3 Key Differences
The three main critical differences between metal and wood bats are as follows.
Metal bats are more durable than wooden bats. During professional baseball games, wooden bats frequently break. In the professional game, it’s an accepted reality that wooden bats can break, and more will always be needed. This problem does not occur with metal baseball bats because they do not crack. They can also be dented and bent, so often they need to be replaced, but not nearly to the extent wooden bats do.
It is also possible to make aluminum bats lighter than wooden bats. Due to the lighter weight of metal bats, baseball players can swing with more incredible speed than they could do with wooden bats. Not only does this mean they can get to pitches quicker, but with an aluminum bat, they can also produce more speed.
The aluminum bat has a larger sweet spot and the power gained from increased bat speed. Compared to the wood bat, when a player makes contact with the aluminum bat, the metal absorbs the energy from the ball and sends it back, giving it a higher ‘trampoline effect.’ This creates more force behind the ball. Studies show that for balls struck with an aluminum bat, the ball speed is higher than those struck with a wooden one.
It sounds like there are better metal bats than wooden ones, so why are they not used in the MLB? Maintaining the accuracy of records is one factor. If major leaguers turned to aluminum bats, production would surge, beginning to break all sorts of hitting records.
Another explanation is that in professional baseball, purists don’t think metal bats make sense. Instead of technological advancements, baseball players can excel based on good coaching and athletic ability.
Many assume that college baseball players can play with wood bats to prepare themselves better if they get signed by a professional team.
In established leagues, new rules have been embedded, such as the BBCOR, limiting the dangers metal bats can have by imitating wood bat characteristics. And, as you can see, both forms of bats have their perks.
In the end, more power, a faster swing, and an optimal sweet spot are given by the best aluminum alloy bats. So, aluminum bats are more potent than wood bats in head-to-head terms.
However, coaches, teachers, and serious players can use the best wood bats to refine their swing even if it’s only for training or practice. Wood bats provide a better architect for hitters, a better approach, better touch, and make the player a better hitter.