Baseball Bats

Written by Jeremy Horelick
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To the uninitiated, the world of baseball bats can be a daunting place. There are agency standards and specs that apply across the board at various skill levels from the pros on down to little leagues. There are length-to-height ratios that determine how fast a hitter swings a bat through the strike zone. Then, for the chemical and material engineers in the mix, there are considerations of the ideal alloys and barrel hardness.

If all this seems more like the domain of shuttle engineers than ballplayers, consider that companies such as Mizuno, Easton, Louisville, and DeMarini pump millions of dollars into research and development so that parents and coaches will lay out hundreds of dollars for bats. Mind you, that's not hundreds of dollars for multiple bats, but two or three hundred for a single bat. How much advantage can baseball bats really provide hitters? It depends on whom you ask.

Do Baseball Bats Make Sluggers Sluggers?

Any real baseball fan would tell you that Barry Bonds could probably drive a baseball out of Candlestick Park with a 5-iron golf club. By the same token, a beginning youngster swinging a 300-dollar Louisville Slugger Armor TPX is no different from a 12-year-old who owns a brand new Porsche. In time, the precision engineering and attention to detail that went into the tool will pay its rewards. In the interim, however, a basic instrument will suffice.

A similar caveat exists at the other end of the spectrum. In Major League Baseball, there's no discernible advantage to swinging one type of bat over another for one major reason: the regulations surrounding baseball bats are strictly enforced. No bat may be made of anything other than smooth, round wood. Furthermore, it may not exceed 42 inches in length and can be no wider than two-and-three-quarters inches at its thickest part of the barrel.

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