Thursday, January 24, 2008
There was a bill in the state of Virginia that would have banned metal bats, but was voted down yesterday. Nevertheless, wood bats are gaining favor...but for all of the reasons unrelated to the reason the bill in Virginia was introduced. That bill was a safety oriented bill and there just wasn't enough evidence for the Virginia legislature to ban metal bats.
Whether or not there is a safety issue, we like wood because we have seen that training with wood bats can help make players much better hitters with metal bats. Wood is a true test of hitters ability because it eliminates the "mistake" hits. Unlike metal bats, using a wood bat requires the hitter to have quick bat speed and in order for the ball to jump off the bat, it must be hit on the "sweet" part of the bat...Good hitters won't see much of a difference in their batting average when using wood, but hitters with "flaws" will be a bit exposed with wood, especially when they are facing top pitching like at some of the top tournaments and showcases where wood bats are mandatory. It's no coincidence that the top events for scouts and recruiters is where they use only wood bats...the Perfect Game WWBA National Championships in East Cobb, GA and the Area Code Try-outs and Games.
How can wood help your metal bat swing? Most wood bats are top heavy and with repeated swinging, good contact hitters will build bat speed. The reason is that wood and aluminum bats are NOT swung at comparable speeds. Even for bats with the same weight, the weight distribution is generally very different for a wood and aluminum bat in that a typical wood bat has much more of its weight concentrated in the barrel and further from the hands. One way to characterize the weight distribution is the so-called moment of inertia (MOI), which is a measure of how far the weight is concentrated from the hands. A bat with a smaller MOI has the weight concentrated closer to the hands and will be easier to swing. Likewise, a bat with a larger MOI will have the weight further from the hands and will be harder to swing. Typically, aluminum bats of a given length and weight have a smaller MOI than a wood bat with the same length and weight.
Practicing with a wood bat can be frustrating for some at first, especially those players that have flaws in their swing...but with the proper training, a player will improve over time. There have been many studies that have proven that practicing with wood will improve your bat speed...and if a player consistently practices to improve their mechanics to concentrate on hitting the sweet spot, they will notice a considerable difference in their ability to drive the ball...and that can equate to better averages once the switch to metal is made. Players that are conditioning to prepare themselves for the rigors of every day practices, will benefit now by hitting the cages with wood...and as an added bonus, we just like hearing a "crack" of a bat over a "ping" anyday.