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Buying a Baseball Bat

Choosing a baseball bat can be a time consuming activity these days. With all of the new alloys that come out every year, it is sometimes hard to understand what the difference is, and why it matters.

Every year right around College World Series time in April and May, Easton, Louisville Slugger and relative new comers to the competitive aluminum bat market DeMarini and Rawlings introduce their new lineup of baseball bats. The talk is always about the new technology that has come out, from composite bats that bend and flex when you hit the ball, to “rare earth alloys” previously used only in the aerospace industry but are now being made into baseball bats.

The bottom line principle when it comes to making a baseball bat is the stronger the aluminum or composite material used to make it, the thinner the walls of the bat can be. Thinner walls allow for a better trampoline effect, making the ball jump off the bat harder. As new alloys are developed by the worlds largest metal provider ALCOA, the baseball bat industry is quick to pick up on the new technology, always looking for the alloy that is going to provide the thinnest walls with the greatest amount of durability.

How can you tell which alloy is the best? Well, a pretty good rule of thumb is the price of the bat. I know that sounds oversimplified, but it is the truth. That being said, you do not need to get the “Best alloy” to get a great bat. The fact is even todays “worst” alloys are much better than the best alloys of 5 years ago. When a new bat comes out you are paying higher prices not only for a more expensive metal or composite, but also because the cost of research and development is increasing as well. The major bat makers spend millions of dollars each year in laboratories dedicated to the science of making bats. Everything from the sting, to the sound is carefully crafted to meet the demands of todays athletes.

One more thing to consider when looking at a new bat is High School, College and Youth League Baseball all have very strict standards on how hard/fast a ball can come off the barrel of a bat. Every new model of bat has passed rigorous testing to be approved for play in each association. The BESR or Ball Exit Speed Ratio is the test used to determine if a bat is too hot.

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