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If you’ve been playing baseball for a couple of years, it’s a safe bet to assume that you’ve gone through at least one or two replacement bats by now. Baseball bats are finicky that way. No matter how well you treat them, it seems that they’re always breaking or going dull after a while.
And when you’re planning to find a replacement for your old baseball bat, there’s one question that inevitably creeps up on you –
How Long Do Baseball Bats Last? How long do you have till you need to replace your new baseball bat once again?
Now, I’m not saying baseball bats are extremely fragile. If you treat your bat well, you can expect it to last one season at the very least. But there are many things that can dictate the overall durability of the bat, such as its construction material, your skill level, the overall build quality of the bat, etc.
And as I’ve seen this happen many a times in my career – I know.
I will talk more about how long baseball bats last so that you can plan out your budget and have realistic expectations from your bat when you’re picking up a new one.
If you want a TL; DR:
- A great baseball bat at the hands of a competitive ballplayer should last for a season (if the bat’s taken care of)
- Wooden bats break more often – might need changing twice or more in one season
- Some bats (if you really take care of them) can last two seasons or more
- As a rule of thumb, I recommend changing bats at least once every season if you’re serious about the game
Average Lifespan of Baseball Bats
As I said already, there are many things that come into play in dictating the overall lifespan of the bat. And without knowing which bat you’re using or your specific usage scenario, it can be pretty difficult to predict how long your bat will last.
The simplest answer I can give you is that your baseball bat, if it’s decent, will last you at least an entire season if you don’t push it too hard. For wooden bats, however, things might turn out differently.
Wooden bats break all the time, and if you’re a seasoned hitter who plays competitive baseball at a high level, you might need to replace your wooden bat mid-season.
Then again, I’ve also seen baseball bats survive two or three years simply because the player takes good care of it and only brings it out on special games. It mostly depends on how you treat your bat.
How Long Do Baseball Bats Last? Things That Affect the Lifespan.
As a hitter, it’s your job to learn all you can about baseball bats. You see, having the most expensive baseball bat means little if you don’t understand anything about it. Even if you buy a high-end baseball bat, you need to accept that it’ll break eventually, and there’s no point getting mad over it.
The better approach would be to understand the factors that can affect its durability over time. So here are the things that can affect the durability of your baseball bat:
1. Baseball Bat Material:
Back in the early years of baseball, a bat would only be made out of wood. But those days are long behind us. These days, baseball bats are also made from aluminum alloy and carbon composites. Wooden bats are still available, but they are usually only used by MLB professionals.
You can also find hybrid baseball bats that blend two different types of materials. And as it turns out, the durability of the bat depends mostly on the material that’s used to make it. Usually, composite bats last the longest, while wooden bats have a relatively low lifespan.
There are, of course, different strengths and weaknesses to each bat material, but I’ll discuss more about it in a later section of this article.
2. Usage Frequency
You can’t really expect your baseball bat to last you a lifetime. Even a top-tier baseball bat will eventually break. That’s just something you need to accept. And if you use the same bat at practice and your competitive games, then it’ll break sooner rather than later.
The basic gist here is that the more you use the bat, the closer it gets to its breaking point. I always advise my youth players to use a cheaper wooden bat for training. That way, they can make their game bats last longer by only using them for competitive matches.
Of course, I’m not saying you shouldn’t use your expensive bat at all. Just make sure you don’t overuse it. Otherwise, it’ll break sooner than you’d like, and you will have to buy a new one all over again.
3. Hitting Power
Are you a power hitter who likes to put all his energy behind his swing? Or do you have a lighter swing like a contact hitter? While this might seem like a weird question, as it turns out, it plays a huge role in deciding the overall durability of a baseball bat.
You see, power hitters have a stronger swing power. And when they make a successful hit, that energy takes a toll on the barrel of the baseball bat. As a result, the bats that a power hitter uses require a quicker replacement. Contact hitters, on the other hand, can make their bats last much longer in comparison.
Typically, if you’re a power hitter, you should go with a heavier, end-loaded baseball bat. These bats can handle the extra power from a power hitter. Using a lightweight bat isn’t really ideal for a power hitter, as it will break quite easily. Lightweight bats are better suited at the hands of contact hitters.
4. Weather Effects
The weather can have a huge effect on the overall durability of a baseball bat. Most baseball bats can break or crack if the weather gets too cold. For instance, composite baseball bats are not suitable if the temperature drops below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.
Besides, rain also can negatively affect the condition of your bat. If you’re using a wooden baseball bat in the rain and don’t wipe it properly, the moisture from the rain can reduce its lifespan.
So, if you want a baseball bat to last longer, don’t use it when the weather is bad. Use an alternative bat for the game. Also, make sure that the storage locker where you keep your baseball bat is regulated for temperature and humidity.
5. Maintenance and Care
Now, this should go without saying, but – taking care of your baseball bat is essential if you want it to last long. I see many players complain that their baseball bat breaks or cracks after a couple of months. But when I take a closer look, I find that they are extremely reckless with their bats.
Baseball bats require maintenance, and knowing how to take care of a baseball bat is essential for any player. If you’re using a wooden bat, for instance, you need to apply oil and condition the bat regularly to keep it in game-ready condition.
Bat storage is also an important part of bat care and maintenance. You need to store your baseball bat properly in a moisture-free, dry place. Otherwise, the lifespan of the bat will take a drastic hit.
6. Bat Quality and Price
I hate to say it, but here goes – an expensive baseball bat will almost always last longer than an affordable one. Now, I know many of my budget-concerned readers will be disappointed here, but that’s the truth. If you go with a cheap baseball bat, you are not getting the build quality that only comes with an expensive model.
But that doesn’t mean an expensive baseball bat will last forever. If you don’t take care of it and don’t store it properly, even an expensive bat will break after a couple of months. Still, in terms of build quality, you’ll get more value with an expensive baseball bat.
The good news here is that if you decide to go with a 60 or 70-dollar baseball bat, even if it breaks, you can easily afford to get a new one. Replacing it won’t be as taxing on your wallet as it would if you broke a 300 or 400-dollar baseball bat. But a 300 or 400-dollar bat will definitely last you longer – there’s no denying that.
Different Bat Materials vs. Baseball Bat Durability
Remember how I said the material of the bat affects its overall lifespan? As you know – baseball bats are typically made of either aluminum, wood, or carbon composites. And their durability varies depending on the material that’s used to make it.
Let me take a moment to talk about the strengths and weaknesses of different bat types and how long they last.
How Long Do Wooden Baseball Bats Last?
The traditional MLB baseball bats are all made of wood. That’s the only type of bat that’s allowed in professional Major League games. Typically, wooden bats are made from Maple, Birch, or Ashwood. But back in the olden days, many baseball bats were made of Hickory wood.
Now, wooden bats have the least durability for obvious reasons. While they are not hollow like alloy bats, even a top-tier wooden baseball bat can shatter upon impact with the ball. I mean, if you’ve seen MLB games, I’m sure you’ve noticed how many bats break each game.
However, the good thing about wooden bats is that they don’t get dents like alloy bats, nor do they get dull over time like composite bats. And in terms of performance, they are pretty good, but you need to practice a lot more since they have a relatively small sweet spot.
Durability: One season if you use it sparingly.
How Long Do Aluminum Baseball Bats Last?
Aluminum bats came onto the scene around 1920, but they didn’t get popular until the late 70s. These days, aluminum bats are used widely in youth and senior league games. Compared to wooden bats, aluminum bats offer a significant bump in terms of durability.
There are many upsides to aluminum bats. It’s light, it’s easy to swing, and most importantly, it’s extremely durable. And let’s not forget the fact that aluminum baseball bats have a huge sweet spot, meaning a beginner will have a much easier time getting a good connection with the ball using this type of bat.
Aluminum bats don’t shatter the same way as wooden bats do, but over time, as they near the end of their lifespan, you might start to notice cracks on the aluminum body. And on a mishit, they can get dented badly. But still, in terms of durability, they are much better than wooden bats.
Durability: One to two seasons when used with care
How Long Do Composite Baseball Bats Last?
Compared to wooden and alloy bats, composite bats are a recent addition to the baseball industry. This sort of bat is made by layering carbon composite materials over each other. Because of this construction design, the bat ends up having a much stronger frame than traditional wood or alloy bats.
Composite bats usually offer the highest durability of the three bat types, but there are a couple of limitations. First off, you won’t be able to use it in cold weather. Composite bats, when used in temperatures under 50 degrees Fahrenheit, can crack quite easily.
The biggest limitation of the composite bat, however, is its limited hit count. After around a thousand hits or so, you’ll start to notice the performance of your bat dropping. At that point, it’s time to start looking for a replacement for your high-end composite bat.
Other than that, though, composite bats are pretty amazing at what they do. They do require a bit of breaking in, but after that, the performance of the bat will improve drastically.
Durability: 1000 to 2000 hits.
Frequently Asked Questions
Before I take my leave, let me address some of the questions I get asked often about the durability of baseball bats.
How long do youth baseball bats last?
In youth baseball leagues, you’ll typically see either alloy or composite baseball bats. Wooden baseball bats are usually not allowed in youth games. Now, the durability of the bat depends on which bat the player is using and the quality of the bat itself.
If he’s using an alloy bat, it should last him one season at the very least, assuming he takes care of it and stores it properly. For composite bats, the durability is usually higher, but if he uses it day in and day out in both practice and league matches, it might not last too long.
How long does a major league baseball bat last?
In Major League Baseball, the players are only allowed to use wooden bats. And frankly, the bats that the pros use don’t really last that long. However, it’s not because the bats are poorly made or anything. It has more to do with the pitcher’s ability than the bat’s quality.
You see, in MLB games, professional pitchers are capable of hurling the ball at breakneck speed. And if the hitter doesn’t get a good connection with the ball, the bat ends up taking a lot of damage. That’s the main reason why major league baseball bats don’t last too long.
Do wood bats lose their pop?
No, wooden bats don’t lose their pop like composite or alloy bats. In fact, that’s one of the best parts about it. The wooden bat will feel the same and perform the same as the day you bought it until the day it breaks. You will not notice any dip in its performance.
How many hits does wood bat last?
Unlike composite bats that start performing poorly after a thousand hits, there’s no specific hit count for wooden baseball bats. If you treat your bat well and don’t face any pitcher with a devastating fastball, your wooden bats should last quite a while.
Why do wood bats break so easily?
Wooden bats have the least durability of the different baseball bat types. Typically, most wooden bats break near the handle section. That’s because wooden bats have a relatively smaller handle compared to their other sections. It’s not a design flaw – most players simply prefer their bats made this way.
One of the main ways a wood bat breaks is when a ball thrown hard hits the bat near the handle section instead of the barrel. This can cause the handle section to vibrate too much and break off.
Wooden bats can also splinter and flake near the barrel when you use it for a long time. Think of it this way – the constant impact of the baseball hitting the barrel starts peeling the wood away near the barrel, and eventually, the baseball bat breaks.
Now That We’re Here
Baseball bats don’t last forever, and as much as you hate it, you would eventually have to replace your favorite bat. So, if you plan on sticking it out with the sport, you need to be prepared to buy multiple bats over the years.
Of course, proper care and storage can go a long way into extending the lifespan of your bat. The number of times I’ve seen a bat break or lose its pop due to sheer negligence is astounding. So, make sure you treat your bat well if you want to make it last.
Hopefully, my discussion on how long baseball bats last could help you plan a budget for your new baseball bat for the coming season. Cheers!