Have you ever wondered why doesn’t MLB use aluminum bats to hit? If you played little league baseball growing up, you probably had an aluminum bat to hit baseball during games. Why is it that metal bats are not in the MLB, but instead, professional players use wooden bats to hit? To find out this answer to this question, I’ll breakdown the reasons below.
Safety For Players and Fans
Professional baseball players, including minor leagues and major-league players, hit baseballs too fast already. The hardest-hit ball in 2019 took place on September 11, by Vladimir Guerrero JR, clocking at 118 miles per hour. If Vladimir Guerrero JR were using an aluminum bat instead of a wooden bat, he would have hit the ball even faster at opposing players and fans in the stands. Professional players only use wooden bats to hit for the safety of players’ reactions and fans able to protect themselves from a hit baseball.
More Skill and Timing
Professional baseball hitters have exceptional hand-eye coordination. When a pitch comes to them to hit, they can square up the bat’s sweet spot to the ball. Unlike an aluminum bat, that rewards contact in general, wooden bats only compensation hitting the ball on the sweet spot. When the ball hits the sweet spot of the bat, you tend to see home runs.
Decreases the Advantage for the Hitter
Due to the exceptional hand-eye coordination and bat speed of hitters, MLB does not use aluminum bats to hit. If a professional baseball player were using an aluminum bat to hit with their tremendous swing speed, they would hit the ball even harder and further than they do already. Using a metal bat would make batting averages much higher in sport and give an unfair advantage of hitters over pitchers.
The History of the Game Won’t Allow Metal Bats for Hitters
When it comes to changing rules of baseball, you can expect a lot of pushback from historians. Whether it was to uniform how many stitches are on a baseball, should there be a DH across both leagues, and more, you can expect historians to balk at the idea of changing the game. Historians will never allow aluminum bats to enter the game due to the unfair advantage of comparing past players’ statistics, that is for sure. From Babe Ruth to Barry Bonds, they all had wooden bats in common to a degree. By throwing in a metal bat in a players’ statistics, you lose the ability to compare past and present players.
How is a Wooden Bat Made?
The process of designing a wooden bat for baseball is a multi-step process. First, you have to find the right wood material to build the bat from, and MLB only allows six different types of wood. The six different kinds of wood include Ash, True Hickory, Red Oak, Sugar Maple, Yellow Birch, and Japanese Ash. Maple bats are the most common in professional baseball, along with ash bats, as a heads up.
After obtaining the right wood material, the next step is to create the bat’s cylindrical shape. After making sure the bat’s length and weight are accurate per MLB guidelines, the bat goes through a machine to create the rough look of the bat. Finally after going through the machine to make the bat, you then add a painting coat to finish.
What Color Can an MLB Bat Be?
The colors MLB allows for bats include natural, flame, temper, black, brown, wine, gray, and black cherry. In addition to those colors, MLB allows players to put their name signature on the bat as well. Finally, MLB players can use a pink bat for mother’s day to raise awareness for breast cancer.
What is a Corked Bat?
Now that we understand how to make a wooden bat, we need to address what a corked bat is in baseball and why it is not allowed. A corked bat is a modified baseball bat filled with corks instead of being a solid wood bat. Players drill a hole at the end of the bat to insert the corks to create an unfair advantage via their swing. The concept behind corking a bat means that the bat weight is light so that you can swing faster. A baseball bat’s standard weight needs to be more than 32 ounces, but less than 54 ounces for context.
There have been a few notable moments in baseball where someone was using a corked bat during a baseball game. Most notably was Sammy Sosa of the Chicago Cubs in 2003 against the Tampa Bay Devil Rays. Sammy Sosa was a prolific home run hitter, but when his bat shattered upon contact, the umpires immediately saw the corks inside the bat. The umpires immediately ejected Sammy Sosa from the game, but he apologized quickly after that.
Popular Baseball Bat Manufacturers
There are plenty of baseball bat brands in professional baseball today. Some of the most famous baseball bat brands in professional leagues include Louisville Slugger, Marucci, Rawlings, and Easton. Professional players like to customize their bats as well, so some batters will opt for different colors of the same bat to use to hit.
Wooden Bats for Raising Awareness
Since 2006, Major League Baseball players recognize Mother’s Day and breast cancer awareness with pink bats. MLB players rock pink armbands, necklaces, batting gloves, and cleats, but the pink wooden bats stand out the most during the game. The partnership with pink in the game is to raise awareness is with Susan. G Komen for the Cure Organization.
Does NCAA Baseball Use Wooden Bats?
College baseball players can use wooden bats during a baseball game, but most use a metal bat. Using a metal bat allows college baseball players to hit balls further and increase their chances of having a higher batting average. Having better hitting stats in NCAA means college baseball players have a better chance of being drafted by a Major League Baseball team in the future.
Reasons to Use an Aluminum Bat in Baseball and Softball
While Minor League and Major League Players use wooden bats to hit during baseball games, little league baseball teams, softball teams, and high school leagues should not. One reason to not use a wood bat in little leagues is that the players don’t have the power nor timing skills to hit the ball far. If everyone in the little league were using a wooden bat, you would not see many balls hit to an outfielder.
The second reason to discourage wooden bats is due to their cost if they break. Getting a solid wood bat could range anywhere between $80 – 175, which is similar to an aluminum bat. Families who want their kids to participate in baseball don’t want to buy new bats when they break.
The third reason outside the cost is the protection of the infielders if the bat shatters. Broken bats raise severe concerns for infielders playing the game, so teams choose not to use these bats. A bat shattering into the field can cause a safety concern for the infielders. The safety concern is also present when you have to pick up the shattered pieces on the field.
In summary, there are many reasons why MLB continues to use wooden bats during baseball games. Some reasons include the unfair advantage that metal bats would have on the game, while other reasons are for the game’s integrity via stats. While aluminum bats for amateur leagues are perfectly acceptable, professional batters possess too much skill to use an aluminum bats. Using a wooden bat, professional hitters need to hit the baseball on the sweet spot to hit home runs, which allows more competitive gameplay on the field.