One of the biggest debates in the baseball community, among the hitters at least, is which baseball bat is the best. And no, I am not talking about any brand or specific model. The bigger question here is regarding its construction. Are wooden baseball bats better, or should you go for metal bats?
You see, baseball bats have come a long way since their initial conception. And while the journey began with wooden baseball bats, these days, metal and composite bats have started dominating high school or even adult leagues. This begs the question – should you even go for a wooden baseball bat anymore?
Now it doesn’t matter how you look at it – wooden baseball bats are not the same as metal bats. Even if you put its durability aside (metal bats obviously last longer), the performance of the bats varies drastically based on their construction material. And that’s what I want to discuss today.
Here, I will give you an in-depth comparison between wood and metal baseball bats so that you have a clearer picture of which bat you want for your next investment. So, let’s get started.
Metal Vs Wood Baseball Bats- Key Differences
Baseball bats can feel entirely different depending on their construction material. I know there’s a certain air of coolness with wooden baseball bats – it’s the OG design, after all. However, metal bats though they came into the scene much later, are extremely versatile.
The first big difference between a metal and a wooden baseball bat is its durability. Now, if you watch pro baseball, I’m sure you have noticed how MLB hitters keep breaking their baseball bats. Well, that’s because they exclusively use wooden baseball bats.
A metal baseball bat doesn’t break as easily as one made of wood. Sure, use them regularly and play rough with them, and they will eventually crack or dent. But it’ll be a good long while before you see any real signs of damage in your high-end aluminum baseball bat.
Metal baseball bats get an edge over their wooden counterparts because of their superior contact strength. Thanks to the bigger sweet spot in a metal baseball bat, it has a greater trampoline effect. This, in turn, allows a player to send the ball further on perfect contact.
That isn’t to say that wood bats are not good in terms of contact strength. I mean – pro players hit home runs all the time, after all. But getting a wood bat to hit as hard as a metal bat takes a bit more skill and practice to master. An amateur player might be able to send the ball flying with a metal baseball bat, but when switched to a wooden bat, they’ll find it harder to manage without practice.
Strength isn’t everything in baseball. Sure, you might be able to transfer a lot of energy behind your swings to send the ball flying to the stands, but if you can’t swing your bat fast and with complete control, that’s a strike. And here again, metal baseball bats come out on top.
But wait – isn’t that counterintuitive? Aren’t bats made of metal supposed to be heavier? Well, you see, metal baseball bats usually mean the bat is made of aluminum, which is extremely lightweight. On top of that, metal bats are usually hollow on the inside.
In comparison, wooden bats are usually made of a complete piece of wood which means the insides are not hollow. If you peel off the wood from your baseball bat, you will find more wood on the inside. This is why a wooden baseball bat feels heavier than a metal baseball bat.
Ask any hitter, and he’ll tell you – the response of a baseball bat has nothing to do with its weight or how hard you can swing with it. It refers to the vibration that the player feels in their hands whenever they manage to strike the ball perfectly. And as it turns out, the responsiveness of a wooden baseball bat is unmatched.
Sure, you will also feel your bat vibrate if it’s made of metal, but the feel would be different. Many people claim that the vibration coming from a metal baseball bat feels too intense, and without wearing a high-end batting glove, it becomes uncomfortable to keep holding the bat.
Let’s be honest – if you are shopping for a truly high-end baseball bat, it doesn’t matter whether you are going for metal or wood; it’s going to cost you quite a bit. But if you take a large sample of wooden and metal bats and compare their prices, you’ll see that wood bats usually cost less.
But then again, since metal bats last longer, you won’t have to replace them as often, and that means money saved on your end. And if your bat has cracks, there certainly are ways to fix them. You won’t get the same level of durability even when you are going with a high-end wooden baseball bat.
On paper, a metal baseball bat seems better almost in every aspect than a wood baseball bat. But using a metal bat is strictly prohibited in MLB-level games. Now, why would that be? What’s the big secret?
You see, while metal bats do allow you to swing faster and harder, they can pose safety concerns for the defensive players as well as the fans. Because of the extra trampoline effect that comes with a metal bat, people on the receiving end of the ball after it’s hit with a metal bat have little time to react.
Yes, wooden bats break, but replacing your bat shouldn’t be a concern if you are an endorsed professional. That’s why wooden bats are considered the professional choice for MLB players. You will never see metal bats used in a professional MLB match.
Advantages of Wood Baseball Bats
As you can see, even though wood baseball bats seem inferior to metal bats, they are still the choice of professionals. So, whatever you do, you shouldn’t overlook them entirely. Wooden baseball bats have certain strengths that you will miss out on by going with a metal baseball bat.
When it comes to the feel of the bat, there’s no competition – a wood baseball abt always has a better response when you make a successful swing. On contact with the ball, the vibration of a wooden baseball bat feels extremely satisfying.
Improves Skill and Strength
Driving the ball to the stands is not easy when you are playing with a wooden baseball bat. You will need to train harder and practice making perfect connections with your bat before you are hitting any home runs with one. This will force you to become a better player and will also improve your swing accuracy and strength.
Wooden baseball bats can shatter on impact, but it’s still a much safer option than metal baseball bats. Because of the trampoline effect in a metal bat, if you drive the ball hard toward a defensive player, you can severely injure him by accident.
Advantages of Metal Baseball Bat
Metal baseball bats, as soon as they came out, became an instant hit among enthusiasts and competitive players. And there’s a good reason for it. When you look at what a metal baseball bat offers, its many strengths become as clear as day.
Larger Sweet Spot
The biggest advantage that metal baseball bats bring to the table is a larger sweet spot compared to wooden bats. Because of this, getting a perfect connection on the baseball is much easier, even for a beginner.
While the biggest weakness of a wood baseball bat is that it shatters, with metal bats, you don’t have to worry about such issues. A metal baseball bats a lot longer than a wood bat. Over time, metal bats may go dead, but even then, they will give you a couple of seasons’ worth of use easily.
Since metal baseball bats are lighter, you will be able to swing with them much faster and with more strength. This means whenever you make a good connection with the baseball, you will be driving it to the stands at breakneck speed. Hitting home runs is much easier with a metal baseball bat.
Are MLB Baseball Bats Wood or Metal?
When you are talking about the big leagues, it doesn’t get bigger than the MLB. And let’s face it – we all want to get there. This is the stage where you can truly show off your skills in the sport and claim the title of the best in the world. But daydreaming aside, I’m sure you’ve wondered what bats the MLB pros use in their games.
Well, MLB is pretty strict on the matter. And as it turns out, players in the MLB are only allowed to use wooden baseball bats in the games. That’s why you see so many bats shatter over the course of a single game when watching a live MLB broadcast.
Now, there are a couple of reasons for it. The first reason, of course, is safety for the players and the fans. Because of the somewhat unpredictable contact strength of metal baseball bats, hitting a home run with your metal bat can cause injury to the fans sitting in the stands.
Another reason for it is that wooden baseball bats do not rely on the features of the bat to make you a better player. You see, in a league such as MLB, every bit of skill matters. And if you truly have the skill, you wouldn’t really want to rely too much on a metal baseball bat anyways.
Besides, metal baseball bats can be modified to give the player an unfair advantage on the field. And since it’s pretty difficult to catch every single bat for these sorts of modifications, the officials consider it safer to simply ban the use of metal bats in the MLB.
The only real drawback that comes from a wooden baseball bat is they shatter, at least when you are playing at that skill level. And since MLB players are endorsed by different sporting brands, shattering their baseball bat isn’t a huge concern. If one breaks, the company will simply send over a replacement.
Which is Better Wood or Metal Baseball Bat?
If you were paying attention, I’m sure you’ve noticed how a case can be made in favor of both types of baseball bats. You see, there’s no right or wrong answer here – both wooden and metal baseball bats have their place in the sport. The bigger question you should ask is which baseball bat is right for your situation.
For instance, if you want to go pro, and want to hone your skill to match those playing at the biggest stage, then I would recommend getting yourself familiar with a wooden baseball bat. But then again, you would have to be prepared to spend a lot of money on replacement bats.
And if you want to play casual games or in high-school leagues, a metal baseball bat isn’t a bad option at all. High-end aluminum baseball bats can give you excellent performance, and while they are expensive, their impressive durability makes up for it.
Of course, there’s a third option. If you want the best of both worlds – then consider going with a composite bat. But I’ll save the battle between composite and wooden baseball bats for another day.
I hope my in-depth article on the differences between wood and metal baseball bat could help you understand what sets them apart. Good luck!