Fans of the MLB often cite the crack of the baseball bat as one of their favorite sounds.
The sound is truly distinctive and entirely different from the ping of the aluminum bat which is used in youth, amateur, and college baseball. The differences between the two bats don’t stop at the sounds they make. The bats can actually lead to differences in player performance - let's dive deeper into these differences:
3 Key Differences:
Aluminum bats are obviously more durable than wooden bats. Wooden bats often break during professional baseball games. It’s an accepted fact in the professional game that wooden bats will break and more will always be needed. This issue doesn’t exist with aluminum bats since they don’t break. Still, they can become dented and distorted so they do need to be replaced on occasion, but not nearly to the extent that wooden bats do.
Aluminum bats are also lighter than wooden bats. This means that baseball players can swing an aluminum bat with much more speed than they could with a wooden bat. Not only does this mean they can get to pitches faster, but they can also generate more power with an aluminum bat.
In addition to the power gained from speed, power also comes from the size of the aluminum bat’s barrel and the material of which it is made. The barrel of an aluminum bat is slightly larger than that of a wooden bat, thus giving the wielder a higher chance of hitting the ball—the aluminum bat has a larger sweet spot. The aluminum absorbs the energy from the ball when contact is made and sends it right back. This generates a bounce effect that gives extra power to a hit ball. Studies show that ball speed is higher for balls hit with an aluminum bat than those hit with a wooden one. Studies also show the batting averages of players who use aluminum bats are significantly higher than if they use wooden bats.
It sounds like aluminum bats are clearly better than wooden ones, so why aren’t they used in the MLB? One reason is to maintain the accuracy of records. If major leaguers switched to aluminum bats, production would spike and all kinds of hitting records would start getting broken. Another reason is that baseball purists don’t think the aluminum bat has a place in professional baseball. Baseball players should succeed based on good coaching and athletic talent rather than improvements in technology. Many believe that college baseball players should play with wooden bats to prepare themselves better should they get signed by a professional team.
The debate is one that shall continue for as long as there are different kinds of bats. Youth baseball players can practice with both kinds of bats to decide whether they prefer the crack or the ping.