Which Type of Wood Should I Choose for My Bat?

November 19, 2020 3 min read

MAPLE, BIRCH OR ASH...HOW DO I DECIDE?

This is one of the most commonly asked questions we get, especially by those making the transition from using metal bats to wood bats.

Maple

Maple is a very dense wood, which tends to make it one of the best species to use for wood bats.  Density is directly related to hardness and durability.  The denser the wood used to make a bat, the more durable a bat will be and the more pop it will have.  Also, maple is a diffuse-porous wood - closed grain.  The properties of diffuse-porous wood are such that it will hold together under high intensity impact and the grains will not separate with repeated use.   Maple is the hardest of the three types of wood we use.

Maple must be dried to a very low moisture content when going through the drying process (7%-9%).  Wood over time wants to take back the moisture and will gain weight over time. Depending on where you live, areas with signficantly higher humidity will pick up more weight than a dry climate.  Maple is a rigid wood  that isn't as flexible or forgiving as Birch or Ash.  The vast majority of breaks we see are when balls are hit at the end of the bat.  The bat bends with the impact more than it is capable of and the bat breaks. 

Birch

Birch is a softer wood than maple which causes it to be more flexible.  This flexibility may allow a player to create more whip and generate more bat speed. This softness also tends to make birch more forgiving than maple when striking the baseball off the end of the bat or near the trademark.  Based on the flexibility, we like to recommend Birch bats to those players making the transition from metal to wood.  Like Maple, Birch is also a closed grained wood which is great for repeated use - hitting baseballs.  Closed grained woods (Maple and Birch) will not flake apart like ash bats.

Birch is softer than maple and you may see seems marks when first used.  Over time, these dents will disappear.  The barrel will compress and almost look like a "washboard".  The surface hardness of a new birch bat is not near as hard as a new maple bat which may slightly decrease exit speeds.  

Ash

Back in the day, Ash is all there was for bat manufacturing.  Over time, Maple and Birch were introduced and have started to push Ash out of the game - especially in the amateur market.  Ash is the most flexible of the three types of wood. Many players who can generate enough bat speed say there is a "whip" type feeling when swinging Ash.  Due to this flexibility ash also, tends to be more forgiving than Maple and  Birch when striking the baseball off the end of the bat or near the trademark. 

Ash also needs to be dried to a very low moisture content in order to be used for wood bats.  Ash is a ring porous wood - open grained. The properties of ash are such that the bat will continue to dry out during the life span of the bat.  This will cause the grains on the barrels ash bats to flake, separate and splinter.  Hitting off the face grain (the grain where to logo is placed) will also cause the bat to flake and splinter and break.  Players that are not experienced using wood bats often rotate the bat while hitting, causing them to hit balls of the face grain.  This will result in flaking and splintering and cause the bat to be less durable and decrease the lifespan. We generally do not recommend Ash bats.  For the simple reason that barrels of Ash bats will separate and flake prior to the actual bat breaking, essentially making the bat unusable (especially in games).

Quick Overview

Maple - hardest, most dense, least flexible

Ash - softest, feels great, not great durability, most flexible

Birch - Hybrid of Maple and Ash, gets harder with more use, more flexible than Maple - perfect hybrid of Maple and Ash

Conclusion

Since the early 2000's Maple bats have emerged as the most popular species of wood used by players at the major league level as well as the bats going through our shop..  This is due to the hardness, durability, and overall performance of the wood.  Maple bats make up approximately 75% of the bats we make.  While Maple is significantly more popular, don't be afraid to try out Birch bats; you'll be pleasantly surprised!


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