Types of Wood Bats & How To Choose The Perfect One
The crack of the wood bat is one of the most recognizable sounds in all sports. The feeling of catching a baseball off the barrel of a wood bat is unlike any other. Whether you are a seasoned player or new to the game, choosing to swing a wood bat can have a large impact on your performance and experience within the sport. Purchasing a wood baseball bat requires careful consideration to ensure that you select the bat that best suits your playing style and preferences. There is a wide variety of wood types, sizes, and features available which makes the buying decision difficult. In this buyer’s guide, we’ll break down everything you need to know about wood bats so you can feel confident about your next wood bat.
In this article, we’ll cover:
Wooden bats can offer the player increased customizability compared to metal bats. Each bat can be made with specific characteristics to the preferences of the player. For example, characteristics such as barrel diameter, handle thickness, transition style, and knob style can be adjusted when designing a wood bat. These characteristics affect the bat’s weight distribution and how the bat feels when swung.
Wood Bat Turn Models
The “Turn Model” for a wood bat is a quick way to describe its overall characteristics. Turn model numbers provide specs on barrel diameter, handle thickness, transition style, and knob style. These characteristics affect the bat’s weight distribution and how the bat feels when swung.
While turn models can be confusing, we have listed the characteristics of the most popular wood bat turn models below. Try to pick the model that best matches your hitting style!
- 271 Turn: This is the most popular turn model in baseball. It has a quick taper between the barrel and handle. This has a slightly end-loaded feel with a medium-sized barrel. This model works best in the hands of a contact or power hitter. Check out the 271 Turn from B45 here!
- 110 Turn: If you are looking for a balanced swing feel, the 110 turn is the way to go! This makes it a great bat for players who might be new to wood. It features a thick handle for good durability and a larger barrel for a big sweet spot. This model works best in the hands of a contact hitter as it is quick through this zone. Check out this custom 110 Turn from Homewood Bats here!
- 243 Turn: For those looking for the largest barrel possible, the 243 is the bat for you. Its large barrel is paired with a thin handle to create an end-loaded feel. While these characteristics might make the bat hard to control for new hitters, the 243 is a great choice for the power hitter looking for maximum pop at the plate. Check out the 243 Turn from Victus here!
Benefits of Wooden Baseball Bats
Despite the technological advancements and flashy designs of metal bats, wood bats will never go out of style. Their timeless appeal and unique set of benefits make wood bats a compelling choice for players at all levels. Here are a few reasons why you should consider picking up a wood bat for yourself:
1. Feel and Feedback Advantages
The feel of hitting a baseball with a wood bat is unparalleled. Whether it’s off a tee or in a game, every swing provides immediate feedback, allowing you to fine-tune your mechanics to improve your performance. Wood bats communicate with the user more than metal bats and offer the satisfaction of a sweet crack when you get it right.
2. Skill Development
Similarly, using a wood bat helps you master the art of hitting. The smaller sweet spot and the need for precise hand-eye coordination promote the need to focus on mechanics. Additionally, wood bats demand a higher level of focus and discipline in the batter’s box. Finally, using a wood bat in formative years can help prepare you for the transition to more competitive stages of play, such as high school, college, or professional.
3. Swing what your favorite pro does!
Is your favorite player Mike Trout? Or maybe Fernando Tatis? A wood bat gives you the chance to step into the box with the same bat as your favorite player. Many manufacturers offer the same model bats that they custom make for professional players to the public. These bats are the result of collaboration between players and manufacturers so you can feel confident that your bat is the right tool for the job.
See Mike Trout’s Model here
See Fernando Tatis’s Model here
4. Natural Aesthetics
One appeal of wood bats is their natural beauty. The natural grain and wide variety of finishes give each bat a unique character. This element sets wood bats apart from mass-produced metal or composite bats.
Drawbacks of Wooden Baseball Bats
One significant drawback of wooden bats is their higher susceptibility to breakage. Wood bats can break when contact is made away from the center of the barrel. It is common to break a wooden bat during contact on the end of the bat or off the handle where the wood is thinner and weaker. The manufacturing process of wooden bats can result in variations in quality. Unlike metal bats that are precision-engineered for consistent performance, wooden bats may exhibit differences in weight, balance, and sweet spot location. This lack of consistency can affect a player's ability to predict how a bat will perform in different situations. Wood bats also need different care than metal bats. They need to be stored away from moisture and humidity to maximize the lifespan of the bat.
Maple is the most common type of baseball wood bat. It is a very dense wood which gives these bats a hard feel upon contact. The density also provides maple bats with a heavier swing feel and increased durability.
Ash is the lightest type of wood bat. Its lightness gives ash bats the benefit of being the most flexible and forgiving. Their light weight provides the hitter with increased bat speed while their flexibility provides more whip upon contact.
Birch is like ash as it is a softer, lighter type of wood. It also has the benefit of being flexible and forgiving at contact. However, unlike ash, birch will become more durable throughout its lifespan as the wood becomes compressed and hardens with use. It is a great choice for those who want the lightness of ash, but the durability of maple. Ash is the lightest type of wood bat. Its lightness gives ash bats the benefit of being the most flexible and forgiving. Their light weight provides the hitter with increased bat speed while their flexibility provides more whip upon contact.
Other Wood Types
In addition to ask, maple, and birch there are some other less common types of wood bats such as hickory and bamboo. Hickory is a hardwood similar to maple in performance. Hickory bats normally have a heavier swing weight which can be difficult to control for younger players. Bamboo is known for its excellent strength and lightweight feel. However, some leagues have specific rules regarding the use of bamboo bats, so players should be aware of any restrictions in their particular baseball organization.
Player's Age, Height, and Weight
Choosing the right size wood bat is the same process as choosing the right metal bat. Oftentimes the player will swing the same size in both wood and metal. For more information on how to select the right size wood bat, consult our Baseball Bat Size Guide.
League and Regulations
Most leagues do not have any regulations on wood bats. However, in some high school leagues, if you use a wooden composite bat, it needs to be BBCOR-certified. Consult your league's rules to learn their regulations on wood bats. Additionally, some leagues have specific rules regarding the use of bamboo bats, so players should be aware of any restrictions in their particular baseball organization.
Personal Preference and Hitting Style
Wood bats offer the user a variety of different characteristics compared to metal bats. Their features are customizable to the user's preferences, so be sure to find one that best matches your style. You can choose between an end-loaded feel or a balanced feel. You can pick the style of knob along with the materials and grip. Explore all the options and find the one that is the right fit for you.
Budget and Durability
Woods bats are normally less expensive than their metal bat counterparts. However, they are not as durable. It is common for wood bats to break when contact is made away from the center of the barrel. It is common to break a wooden bat during contact on the end of the bat or off the handle where the wood is thinner and weaker. Therefore, it is common for many players to use wood bats during practice to keep the wear off of their metal bat. Using wood bats during tee work and soft toss reduces the amount of wear on a player’s metal bat, preserving the pop for games.
What type of wood do MLB players use?
The most common type of wood used in the MLB is maple. Many players like this type of wood for its durability and exceptional performance.
Do wood bats lose their pop?
No, wood bats do not lose their pop. Birch bats gain pop the more you use them. With repeated use, the wood compresses together and becomes harder and denser, increasing the pop. That is why it is important to use a birch bat in practice before you use it in a game.
What brand of wood bats do the pros use?
The pros use all brands of wood bats. Fortunately, many manufacturers offer the same model bats that they custom make for professional players to the public. These bats are the result of collaboration between players and manufacturers so you can feel confident that your bat is the right tool for the job.
Wood bats can offer a great alternative to metal bats and have some great benefits in terms of training and skill progression. They offer increased feedback which allows the player to focus on mechanics and hand-eye coordination. They also represent a way to decrease the amount of swings you take with your expensive metal bat. These expensive metal bats lose their pop the more you use them, so using a less expensive wood bat during training can be a wise investment.
Explore our collection of the best wooden baseball bats you can find online. Learn more about baseball bats by reading our complete guide to the different types of baseball bats and find out what bat size is perfect for you with our baseball bat size chart.