Which baseball bats are better: metal or wooden?

Unlike other team sports such as soccer or basketball, you need several pieces of equipment to play baseball. The most crucial, apart from your fielding glove, is undoubtedly your bat.

The right bat can make or break your game, but between metal and wooden bats, how do you go about choosing the right one? Although it’s largely a matter of preference, there are some key distinctions to be made between them, most notably in performance and durability.

Metal baseball bat

Metal bats are made from either aluminum or a metal composite. They were created as a simple alternative to the original wooden baseball bat and have become popular among high school and NCAA players. However, metal bats are still prohibited in MLB, which argues that it would create unfair advantages for batters.

Metal baseball bat pros

The main advantage of a metal baseball bat is its “sweet spot” — the best place for the ball to hit the bat. It’s much larger than the sweet spot on a wooden bat, so it allows for a greater margin of error and increases the probability of hitting a ball far, resulting in more frequent base hits.

Metal baseball bats also benefit from the Trampoline Effect — the reason metal baseball bats tend to hit balls further than wooden bats. When a metal bat makes contact with a pitched ball, the thin metal walls bend, creating a bounce-back effect of the energy transfer, which causes the ball to travel further.

Metal baseball bats are also more durable than wooden bats and break rarely, if ever. However, as durable as they are, they’re also more lightweight, so they’re naturally easier to swing. The lighter a bat is, the easier it is to swing and generate swing speed, which results in a more powerful hit upon contact.

Metal baseball bat cons

MLB doesn’t allow metal bats because they’re a bit of a cheat code. Because it’s easier to get solid hits off an aluminum bat, they don’t help players improve their swing mechanics or strength. For that reason, many coaches prefer that their players use wooden bats.

Since metal bats generate more powerful hits, they’re more dangerous to use in a game than wooden bats. Metal bats can also be modified to create unfair advantages that are hard to detect and considered illegal in most leagues.

Also, metal bats are generally more expensive than wooden bats since they’re more durable and go through advanced development and testing.

Best metal baseball bats

Louisville Slugger 2021 Meta

Louisville Slugger 2021 Meta

This metal bat meets the Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution standards required by the NCAA and several other leagues and boasts an expert-engineered wide barrel for a large sweet spot. It’s lightweight, easy to swing, and its three-piece design allows for a stiff feel throughout your swing, with minimal vibration.

Sold by Amazon

Marucci CAT9 BBCOR Bat 2021

Marucci CAT9 BBCOR Bat 2021

Thanks to a three-stage thermal treatment process, it’s one of the most responsive metal bats and features a balanced barrel with a broader sweet spot. The micro-perforated soft grip offers a more comfortable feel and superior control throughout your swing.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Wooden baseball bat

Baseball was always played using wooden bats until the 1970s, when metal bats began to take over. Still, wooden bats are popular, especially among young players looking to improve constantly. The best wooden bats are durable and feature high-quality barrel construction with a fine finish.

Wooden baseball bat pros

Wooden bats tend to be more balanced, making them easy to swing despite being heavier than metal bats. It’s easier to get a base hit off a metal bat, but a wooden bat can send a ball further if it’s hit correctly and with enough power.

Players who use wooden bats will improve their mechanics thanks to better feedback upon contact. Since they’re heavier than metal bats, swinging wooden bats consistently will also help improve overall muscle strength.

Also, wooden bats are safer than metal bats since there’s no Trampoline Effect causing the ball to bounce back with greater force. Wooden bats lead to injuries from hit balls at a much lower rate.

Finally, despite requiring high-grade wood to deliver elite performance, they’re often less expensive.

Wooden baseball bat cons

Wooden bats have smaller sweet spots than metal bats, so there’s a greater need for precision swings to make strong contact with a pitched ball. They’re also not nearly as durable as aluminum or composite bats and can break or shatter upon contact with a fast pitch, resulting in a quick out.

Best wooden baseball bats

Marucci AP5 Albert Pujols Pro Model Maple Bat

Marucci AP5 Albert Pujols Pro Model Maple Bat

Inspired by longtime star slugger Albert Pujols, this durable bat is made with high-quality maple wood and is bone-rubbed for elite performance. It has an end-loaded design that gives it a dense feel but delivers plenty of power upon contact.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Victus JC24 Pro Reserve Maple Bat 2020

Victus JC24 Pro Reserve Maple Bat 2020

Marked by a big league-grade ink dot, which shows how straight the wood’s grains are, this bat meets the standards of the most competitive leagues and offers elite performance. Made with top-quality maple, this bat has a hard surface that makes it durable and excellent for delivering power hits on the field.

Sold by Dick’s Sporting Goods

Should you get a metal or wooden baseball bat?

If you’re an aspiring player looking to improve your game constantly, a wooden bat will help with your swing mechanics and improve your muscle strength along the way. However, be prepared to spend on a new bat should your wooden bat break while you’re at the plate.

Players looking to get more pop behind the ball should opt for a metal bat since they’re easier to swing. They’re also far more durable, so you likely won’t have to worry about getting a replacement anytime soon.

 

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Kevin Luna writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.

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