3 Tips to know if an Ash bat is good quality wood

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People usually describe an ash bat as having “good wood” or “bad wood”.  Well how do you really know?  This post has 3 tips for how to tell if an ash baseball bat is good quality.

This piece is only relevant to ash bats.  Maple and birch bats are more difficult to tell by their appearance if you have a nice piece of wood.

When you order a baseball bat you don’t have any control over which wood the company selects for your personal sticks.  Everyone has the same problem, but you can at least have an idea which bats are made with higher quality wood.  If buying in person, these points will help you pick a good bat.  If you order online (which is usually how you have to get better quality baseball bats), you’ll be able to tell if the company you ordered from is keeping up their quality.

1. Weight and barrel size matters:  Think about this for a minute.  If you have two bats that are the same length and weight, the one with a smaller barrel is better wood.  This is because the smaller barrel of the same weight is more dense than the bigger barrel  (Physics 101 says the more density = more weight).  So how does this help you?  The denser the wood, the harder it is – and the harder you can hit the baseball.

Also, a denser piece of wood will take longer to flake.  This means it will last longer (unless you break it of course).

When wood is delivered to a bat company it is already cut into dowel like pieces that can be shaped into any model bat.  These dowels all weigh differently and if you order a light bat they are going to use a light dowel, usually resulting in a less dense piece of wood.  As the weight in ounces go up on your bat the denseness and quality of the wood goes up.

I am not saying you should swing a heavy bat, because I don’t.  Mine is only 31 ounces, but barrel size and weight is something to consider.

2. Grains on the ash bat are an indicator:  Look for straight grains.  Make sure the spacing between grains is consistent all the way up the barrel.  The number of grains isn’t the most important thing, but the less grains on the bat the higher probability the grains will have even spacing and be straight.  Its easier to have 5 grains evenly spaced and straight then 12.  Add more grains you will have more problems.  No matter how many grains your bat has, if they are straight and evenly spaced you may have found yourself a good one.

3.  Make sure your ash bat is straight:  More bats than you would think are bowed just a little.  It can be a result from any number of reasons (shipping, poor cut, moisture).  A simple test is to place it on the ground and push it and watch it roll.  Does it roll nicely or does it wobble?  If it rolls nicely you have a nice straight bat that is ready for use.

I hope this post on finding a good ash baseball bat is helpful for you.  This info will help you identify “good wood” that you should use in a game.  Ash bats using less quality wood may be good for practice or for trading with your friends that don’t know what good wood looks like (just kidding).

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Doug Bernier, founder of Pro Baseball Insider.com, debuted in the Major Leagues in 2008 with the Colorado Rockies, and has played professional baseball for 13 years. Most recently, Doug signed with the Minnesota Twins in 2013, where he logged time at every infield position except 1st base in 33 Major League games. Currently Doug is with the Twins' AAA team in Rochester, NY

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2 Comments

  1. Doug,
    Nice insight on wood (ash) bats. In addition to the quality of the wood, knowing where the exact sweet spot on a bat is should to be more than just a guess. We put together a quick video on how to find the sweet spot and use it to dial in a hitters swing with it.
    http://lockerdome.com/media/106646915
    If you want to get really deep knowledge about wood bats, visit http://www.woodbat.org It was created by Roland Hernandez, the wood scientist who developed the MLB specifications for maple bats – face grain contact and the less than 3º tangential slope of grain.
    Thanks,
    Grady

  2. Another outstanding article; with each of your postings I either better understand different aspects or various facets associated with the game – or I learn something new. Thanks Doug, Great Job!

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