For most of baseball history, wooden bats ruled the day. It wasn’t until the 1970s that metal bats were introduced and became popular. Today, young baseball players can choose from a wide variety of baseball bats — both wooden and metal.

Wooden bats come in a variety of types of wood, including hickory (strong, but heavy), white ash (arguably still the most popular wood of choice) and maple (increasing in popularity since Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001 with maple bats). Metal bats, first made with aluminum, now feature a variety of space-age alloys and unique features. A top-quality metal bat can cost more than $300 today!

But which bat is best? Although you will find big fans of each type of bat, metal bats have become the bat of choice for most young baseball players.

Why? Probably the most important reason is that scientific studies have shown that metal bats allow players to hit the ball faster and farther. (In case you were wondering whether Wills’ conclusion in his video was correct, he was!)

Metal bats also tend to weigh less than wooden bats, making them easier to hold and swing. Also, metal bats do not break as easily as wooden bats.

So why do metal bats outperform their wooden counterparts? Their lighter weight allows players to swing them faster, and players will tell you that a faster swing results in a faster-batted ball. Scientists also attribute metal bats’ superiority to something known as the “trampoline effect.”

Although the physics behind the “trampoline effect” are quite complex, suffice it to say that the barrel of a metal bat acts somewhat like a spring, transferring more energy to the ball on impact than similar wooden bats. The more energy that the bat transfers to the ball, the faster and farther the ball travels.

So if metal bats are best, why do all professional baseball players use wooden bats? Good question! Major League Baseball requires that all professional players use wooden bats due to safety and competitive concerns.

If metal bats were allowed in the big leagues, pitchers and infield players would be at greater risk of injury due to faster batted-ball speeds. These same safety concerns have led many high school and college leagues to allow only wooden bats. Metal bats would also likely lead to a greater number of home runs, so forcing professional players to use wooden bats is intended to increase competition among teams.

Fun facts about the World Series

  • Because the World Series takes place in October, sportswriters often refer to it as the Fall Classic.
  • The first night game in World Series history was played on October 13, 1971.
  • The New York Yankees have won 27 World Series championships, the most of any Major League franchise.
  • The Chicago Cubs currently have the longest streak of not winning the World Series. The Cubs last won the World Series in 1908.

 

12 Join the Discussion

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  1. Hi Wills,

    I really enjoyed your investigation on base ball bats, and seeing you! You can really hit a baseball!

    Love,

    Terri

  2. Wills,

    You wonder was WONDERful. And I liked your four-legged golden ball retrievers, too! I wish I could teach my dog to be as helpful as yours are. :)

    Happy Halloween!

  3. Thanks Wills. I love baseball and I live in Louisville. If you ever come here we can go see the Louisville Slugger Museum together!

    • WOW, we’re not sure if we’d like to be with a bat who’s after our blood, but we think you’re doing a great job of using your creative imagination, Tyler J! See you soon at Wonderopolis! :)

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Have you ever wondered…

  • Which type of bat works best?
  • Why do all professional baseball players use wooden bats?
  • What team has won the World Series the most times?

Wonder Gallery

Try It Out

Here at Wonderopolis, we believe there’s nothing like trying things firsthand. If you have a wooden and a metal bat (or can borrow one from a friend), head out to the field and try Wills’ experiment for yourself. Which bat do you prefer? Which one lets you hit the ball faster and farther?

If you can’t get out to the field right now, you can learn more right here at the computer. Have you ever wondered how a traditional wooden baseball bat is made? If you can’t travel to downtown Louisville, Kentucky, you can take a virtual tour of the Louisville Slugger Museum.

You can also take a more in-depth look at the baseball bat production process.

 

Still Wondering

Visit the website of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History to see a famous Louisville Slugger baseball bat.

 

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