Ever since youth baseball has moved on from wooden bats, there have been ongoing innovations in the bat a player chooses to use. Youth and BBCOR bats are commonly made of aluminum (alloy) and composite materials leading to the standard query, which is better: Composite or alloy baseball bats?
Both types offer a different variety of pros and cons, as well as a fluctuating price range. Both aluminum and composite bats can provide a rewarding experience depending on the type of hitter. While the performance is similar, the features differ significantly.
When looking for the best baseball bat, first follow this composite and aluminum bats guide to ensure you pick the suitable bat material and model for you.
What is an Aluminum Baseball Bat?
Aluminum baseball bats, also referred to as alloy bats first came around as a substitute for wooden bats. Metal bats provided higher performance and durability compared to their wood counterparts.
They offered a different swinging experience to wooden models, improved bat speed, and provided substantial pop. Alloy bats are used almost exclusively in minor leagues, competitive youth baseball, high school, and collegiate institutions. Minor and major leagues still use wood bats made of ash, bamboo, and hickory.
Despite more advanced technologies introduced by carbon fiber composites, aluminum bats are still a popular metal bat choice today.
Alloy Bat Features:
There are two different types: single-walled and double-walled barrels. Instead of the crack of the wooden bat, aluminum bats give off a distinct “ping” sound upon contact. Soon after their introduction into youth baseball, aluminum bats quickly overtook wood bats in popularity for their durability, more comfortable grip, and quicker bat speed.
Aluminum alloy bats commonly have an end-loaded swing weight and one-piece construction. These can feel heavier and not as balanced as their composite counterparts. This makes an end-loaded aluminum bat an excellent choice for a power hitter. A one-piece alloy barrel’s slower movement through the zone upon contact makes the ball go a long, long way. Look at the Marucci POSEY28 Pro Metal BBCOR Bat review to see an awesome BBCOR alloy bat.
Cost and Value:
Aluminum alloy bats are made with various metals, each with distinct traits such as the density of the alloy and length of the bat. One can assume the more expensive the bat, the higher quality it is, even if this is not always true.
When buying an aluminum bat, you may notice cheaper models losing durability and value over a shorter time than a market value bat. Nonetheless, aluminum bats are often more affordable than composites with similar upside.
What is a Composite Baseball Bat?
Composite baseball bats are made from reinforced carbon fiber polymer materials, providing a bat with less density. They are commonly seen to have more “pop” than an alloy bat.
Like aluminum bats, composites are created using a wide variety of carbon fiber materials, each offering a unique component to make up the durable barrel and large sweet spot. Hybrid bats are popular, as composite materials are very flexible in their bat construction utilization. Composites are popular BBCOR bat selections for high school players looking for a consistent swing.
A notable difference in this type of bat is the trampoline effect, or when the ball “jumps” off the bat after contact. When the barrel material is softer, the ball will leave the bat faster (due to the baseball retaining the energy from the pitcher). A composite bat material can be manipulated to be softer to create a higher trampoline effect than an aluminum alloy or wood bat.
Because composite models are often more balanced in weight than alloy, resulting in faster bat speed and a higher percentage of “squared up” balls. Further, composite bats help to reduce the sting that players experience with aluminum and wood bats. If you hit it off the end-cap or handle of the bat, it is less likely to hurt your hands.
Composite Bat Features:
Due to the carbon fiber makeup of composite bats, there will be no “ping” noise when contact is made with the baseball. The sound mimics more of a wood bat but performance far exceeds with its larger sweet spot and premium materials. They are made in both one and two-piece construction.
The swing weight, or how heavy the bat feels when swinging, can be changed relatively easily in composite bats. Often, composite models have a balanced (rather than end-loaded) swing weight. This makes it friendly for contact hitters looking for a high batting average and on-base percentage. Due to this swing weight distribution, composite bats can feel lighter than wood and alloy bats.
Our favorite composites:
- Slugger Meta
- The Goods Demarini
A feature of composite baseball bats is a ‘break-in period‘. After around 300-500 hits with a new composite bat, a batter will begin to see its full potential for power and trampoline effect. If the batter is not used to the weight distribution and feel of composites, the ‘breaking in’ sessions should help batter comfort levels.
Composite baseball and softball bats are also known to react to specific temperatures, sometimes resulting in decreased performance in colder climates.
Cost and Value:
Composite bats are usually more expensive than aluminum models because of their extraordinarily lightweight frame and massive pop that comes with it. The value of a composite bat may vary, though, as the buyer must take into account the “breaking in period,” as well as colder weather, which may lead to cracks or dents. It is probably more important to pay close to market value for a composite than aluminum, because of these possible drawbacks.
Aluminum vs. Composite BBCOR bats
One of the most attractive characteristics for high school players in BBCOR bats is “pop” or the raw exit velocity or power when making solid contact on the bat’s sweet spot. It is widely agreed that composite bats have a slightly better or more consistent pop than their alloy counterparts. Also, because of the carbon fiber materials, the vibration control when making contact with the ball makes hitting a ball off the end or handle more forgiving.
Top bat makers like Easton, DeMarini, Marucci, and Louisville Slugger have increased their composite production over the years as more players reach for more composite and hybrid models. Composite bats tend to fit a balanced hitter profile (singles and extra-base hits) while aluminum BBCOR’s are trending upwards for power hitters.
Check out some of our favorite BBCOR bat reviews:
However, aluminum baseball bats are known to have better grip and control while also being more durable. You will not have to worry about such factors as cold weather with an aluminum bat, making storage and transportation easier. There is also no “breaking in” period with alloy models.
It is safe to say an aluminum bat would be our choice for a hitter that values consistency and durability, with more potential to last longer.
As metal bat construction has progressed, hybrid bats have risen in popularity. A hybrid baseball bat features both composite and aluminum materials, such as a composite handle and an alloy barrel. This is also referred to as a two-piece bat when it is made out of two different materials.
A hybrid bat construction can be an advantage when utilizing positive qualities of composite and aluminum material while minimizing the downsides of each.
Composite vs alloy bats: So, which one is better?
When buying a baseball or softball bat, it is critical to understand the performance differences in composite bats vs. aluminum bats. While both bats have pros and cons, the choice will come down to the hitter type to maximize potential.
A hitter that values big pop and comfort when it comes to vibration will most likely excel with a composite bat. However, a hitter that loves bat speed and durability while not dealing with the risks of weather degradation should choose an aluminum model. Alloy bats will generally be cheaper than their composite counterparts, making it an excellent choice for players on a budget.