Older players often believe that wood bats can give them an edge; (they watch major league players hit home runs with wood bats). With all bat characteristics being equal (except for type), aluminum bats do provide more power than wood bats. But, even though I wouldn't stock wood bats in the team bag each year, I also wouldn't discourage players from using a wood bat if they like them.
Wood bats cannot match the performance of metal bats in either distance or durability. Today, the metal used to make bats continues to get stronger resulting in longer bats that weigh less. It is not uncommon to find small barrel bats that are -10, which means the number of inches is ten more than the number of ounces. For larger barreled bats, -8s are currently available with a 2 3/4 barrel. These bats aren't cheap but they do pack a wallop. In fact, for safety reasons, colleges currently require -3 bats (3 ounces lighter than the length in inches) and, at least in Ohio, high schools limit this difference to -5. These limitations will likely increase because of the very real danger these bats pose to pitchers (and other infielders). The ball just comes off the bat too fast for someone with normal reflexes to react to. Personally, I'd like to see limitations placed on metal bats at all ages and encourage leagues to use some kind of standard. This makes more sense to me than using reduced-impact-factor (rif) baseballs.
Made from aluminum, these type of bats can really pack a wallop to an unsuspecting baseball. They also do not break nearly as frequently as wooden bats, which makes aluminum a more economical choice for a baseball player. Aluminum bats are also lighter in weight and provide far more punch than wooden bats. That's why you don't see aluminum bats in professional baseball. You will, however, see aluminum bats in amateur levels of baseball.
What to Look For: Aluminum Bat
Thinner-walled aluminum bats have a big sweet spot, are lighter and "trampoline" the ball off the bat, meaning the bat actually dents in and pushes the ball off of the bat upon impact. The problem with these bats is that they tend to break more easily, due to metal fatigue.
Thicker-walled bats are much heavier and do not have the trampoline effect, but are more durable and will last longer
How to Care For: Aluminum Bat
Hitting the ball on the same side of the bat each time can cause it to dent, so try to rotate the bat a bit each time you swing.
Keep your bat out of extremely hot temperatures, such as in the trunk of a car. Because the plastic cap at the end of the bat contracts and expands at a different heat level than aluminum, end cap failure can result.
Do not tap your bat against metal spikes or cleats. This causes scratches and hinders the performance of your bat.
Try not to hit waterlogged or non-leather covered balls. These types of balls are more dense than typical baseballs, and the bat is not designed to handle the additional pressure.
Do not throw your bat.
Although they are heavier and break more easily than aluminum bats, wooden bats have traditionally been used in baseball on the professional level. Wooden bats help level the playing field between offense and defense on a professional level. Wooden bats can be used on other levels, but usually are not because of the advantages of aluminum.
What to Look For: Wooden Bat
Choose a bat made from white ash. This type of bat will be more durable than one made from less dense wood.
When choosing your bat, look for one with aged wood. You can tell by the grain of the bat-the wider the grain, the older the wood. Older wood does not break, dent or chip as easily as less mature wood.
Make sure the bat is not too heavy for you; wooden bats run heavier than aluminum bats and can be more difficult to swing.
How to Care For: Wooden Bat
Clean your bat frequently. Be sure to use alcohol-it will prevent build-ups of dirt and pine tar.
To keep the surface of the bat intact, you should get into the habit of boning it regularly. This can be done by rubbing a smooth piece of bone or another bat along the grain of your bat.
Keep your bat dry. Moisture will add weight to a bat, so be sure to dry it immediately should it come into contact with water.
Bats should be stored in a dry place, vertically, with the barrel facing downward.
Do not throw your bat.
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