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Best Wood Bats – Tips from professional baseball players

An overview of which wood bats are being used by professional baseball players, as well as some pro tips to help you pick out the best wood baseball bats for your needs.

I’ve been swinging a wood bat for 16 years, and professionally for 10 years.  I’ve tried a LOT of different models and wood types, as well as learning from other players about their preferences.

In this article, I’ve tried to compile info about your top bat choices and combined it with some of the knowledge I’ve gained in my years as professional baseball player.

Tips for Buying a Wood Bat (click to open)

How much does wood quality matter in a wood bat?  Buying a wood bat that will last, may seem like a flip of a coin.  The quality of the wood will not prevent a bat from breaking.  However, using nice wood will help keep the bat together instead of flaking apart when you hit the ball in the same place over and over again (the barrel).

Where do you buy good wood bats?  Unless you find a really nice sporting goods store (which can be hard to find), buying a wood bat online is your best bet to find a quality bat.  Usually bat companies have different quality grades for their wood and the worst are sent out to the sporting good stores, unless the owner purposely gets the more expensive bats.

How much does a good quality wood bat cost?  Quality wood baseball bats are not cheap (especially if you factor in that you may break it in one swing), but you don’t need to overpay for a wood bat.  A nice piece of wood is in the range of $50-$100.  Some bat prices are so expensive because you are paying for the name on the label of the bat.  Once you get to a certain level of wood, just because you pay more doesn’t mean you are getting more bat.

Is it better to buy a wood bat from the big, name-brand companies?  In my experience, large companies have so much demand for bats that they can be a little more expensive and you don’t always get quality wood because they are just trying to keep up with the orders.  Smaller companies have the ability to use better pieces of wood because they don’t have as many people ordering bats.  However, I have received both good and bad bats from large and small bat companies.  Don’t take this as an absolute, but consider it when purchasing bats.

Maple vs Ash (click to open)

Ash Bats

Northern white ash is the most common wood bat available.  It has a little flex in the bat (similar to some aluminum bats) which is popular because it may have a little extra whip.

When using ash you need to hit with the grains.  That means you want the grains of the bat to be facing the pitcher.  A good indicator is to take the label on the bat and have it facing straight up in the air, or have it facing the ground.  The label is printed on top of the grains so if it is pointed up or down at contact you will be in the optimal position.  This has been proven to be the strongest part of the bat for exit ball speed and overall bat durability.

Pros for Ash bat
  • Usually a little less expensive than maple bats.
  • Has a little flex in the wood (similar to some aluminum bats)
  • When it breaks is usually stays together, thus keeping flying bat shards to a minimum.
Cons for Ash bat
  • Wood grains start to flake (sometimes after the first use), and your bat will eventually lose all density in its barrel.  So even if the bat is still in one piece, the barrel could be in such bad shape that the bat can’t be used.
  • Ash is softer wood compared to maple
  • Not as durable as maple.
If you are wondering about the quality of your ash bats, here are 3 tips to know if an Ash bat is made of good quality wood.

Maple Bats

Maple bats exploded onto the scene about 10 years ago.  Maple is a harder, more dense wood than ash.  It doesn’t have the same flex as an ash bat, but once you get used to using one, it isn’t really noticeable.  Also, a maple bat can be heavier than an ash bat of the same size.  This is good for power but bad for bat speed.

Note about safety:  The label on maple bats is stamped with the grains rather than on the top like ash.  There was a MLB study done in 2008 because so many maple bats were shattering when breaking, potentially causing serious injury.  The results of this study was, when baseballs are hit on top of the maple bats wood grains opposed to with the grains, (like you would with ash) the bat is more durable.  So for 2009 maple bats changed the location of their label, (you still want the label pointing up or down at contact).  They also include a ink mark that will run depending on the quality of the wood.  If the wood does not meet certain specifications it can’t be sold.

Pros for Maple bats
  • Harder, more dense piece of wood, compared to ash, so a perfectly hit ball will travel farther.
  • Doesn’t flake, making it last for ever as long as you don’t break it.  Very durable.
  • Dense wood grains give the bats a “trophy shine”
Cons for Maple bats
  • Usually a little more expensive than ash bats.
  • When it breaks it usually shatters, and you have to deal with flying pieces of bat.
  • Heavier than an Ash bat of the same size

These are wood bat companies which are most popular with pro players, and who are known to put out a dependable, quality wood bat.  When looking for your best wood bats, these companies are putting out good quality.  REMEMBER, some of these companies make bats at all different quality levels, so don’t expect to find the best baseball bats in your average big-box sports store, even if you recognize the name brand.    

Louisville Slugger

Louisville Slugger is the oldest, largest, and most used bat company.  You know Louisville is the standard because almost every other bat company names their own bats using Louisville’s models and letter/number combo (or some variation).

All Louisville models come in ash or maple.  The models you would be able to find from online dealers would be:

  • C271 – small handle, small barrel
  • C243 – small handle, large barrel
  • M110 – med/large handle, medium barrel
  • P72 – small handle, long medium barrel (is probably the most similar to aluminum bat styles)
  • R161 – large handle, large barrel

BaseballRampage.com (free shipping and free return shipping) and HittingWorld.com have good selections

best wood bats, how to choose a wood bat, what are the best wood bats

Louisville Slugger MLB Prime wood bat

Note:  Louisville Slugger has released the “MLB Prime” family of wood bats, which they claim is the the same the quality wood they would use if they were making a bat for Derek Jeter, now finally made available to the public.  At $119 – $129 a pop, these bad boys are definitely at the top of the price range for wood bats.  Baseball Express seems to have one of the larger selections MLB Prime bats – including ash, which can be harder to find (also they’re doing free shipping and free returns for all bat orders).

buying guide for composite and wood Mariucci bat

Marucci Wood Bat

Marucci

Is becoming one of the best wood bats in the industry.  Each bat is bone rubbed which condenses the wood and makes it a little more durable.  Their maple bats are more popular than their ash bats but they are used by a number of MLB players.  They are very consistent in giving high quality wood to all.

BaseballRampage.com and HittingWorld.com have Marucci wood bats.

buying guide for wood and composite phoenix bats

Phoenix Wood Bats (I use this cherry finish for most of my bats)

Phoenix Bat Company

The Phoenix Bat Company is a smaller up-and-coming bat company that uses top quality maple and ash.  This is where I get my bats.

They have great customer service and they have the ability to customize orders.  I use their bats exclusively because they worked with me to come up with my perfect custom model (D357m).  I consistently receive good hard bats from them which can sometimes be frustrating with other companies.

If you get a bat from Phoenix Bat Co, use the code DOUGB10 and you’ll get 10% off.  Also, right now they’re offering free shipping, free engraving, and you can actually try the bat for 10 days and still send it back if you don’t like it.  (Most companies don’t let you return a bat once it’s been used).

Guide to buying pro quality wood bats

B45 Yellow Birch Bats

B45

Are made from Canadian yellow birch wood.  These bats are very strong and get better over time.  They definitely get harder and the ball comes off harder once it gets broken in a bit.

Birch is interesting because it has similar flex as an ash bat but the durability of maple.  These bats can be made light and not lose any durability unlike some other wood.  “Best birch bat on the market.”  “Their models differ slightly from louisville sluggers (ie. the C243 barrel isn’t as big on the B45).”  (Jordan Parraz)

Rawlings

Uses very hard wood.  I think their maple is some of the best around.  Finding the good quality Rawlings wood bats can be challenging at times.  But when you find one it is a very dense piece of wood.

There are many different types of Rawlings bats, but in short, stick with their pro maple and you’ll get a good bat. Rawlings Baseball Bats

Old Hickory

Quality bat company that offers both ash and maple, but maple being the most used Old Hickory bat. Consistent made bats that come out the same every time.  The barrels on the bats seem to be a little smaller than the Louisville model it was made after.  They also feature composite bats, which can be a good alternative if you are worried about broken bats.  You will not be disappointed with any Old Hickory bat.

Old Hickory bats can be hard to find.   BaseballExp.com has some of the pro models, and Hitting World has youth sizes and the Custom Pro Series bats (these are a step down from the professional models, but still good bats).

buying guide for mizuno wood or composite bat; how to choose the best wood bats

Mizuno Wood Bat

Mizuno

High quality japanese ash and maple.  These bats can be very hard and have good pop.  Mizuno is one of the top baseball companies around that pride themselves on tradition and high quality products.

I haven’t used Mizuno bats, but the company has a good reputation for making quality baseball products.  Again, these bats aren’t sold everywhere, but you can find them at baseballrampage.com (free shipping and return shipping).

Baum Bat

Get the feel of using a wood bat without the fear of breaking your bat.  Baum bats are a wood composite that looks, sounds, and feels like wood but will not break.  They are about the cost of 2-3 wood bats but you will only need one.  This is a great bat for a child learning to use a wood bat for the first time.  Also this bat can be used in many wood bat leagues which is nice as well.

Chandler bats

These are good bats.  There no other way to say it.  I’ve never seen a bat come away completely spotless after smashing a baseball to the outfield – until the Chandler bats.  Usually the baseball leaves a mark of some kind when it hits a wood bat, but not on these bats.  I use Chandler bats and I highly recommend them.

How to order a Chandler bat… There are only a few ways to get a chandler bat.  Contact the company directly at 877-497-2287 or hannah.mein@rxsport.com for new retail orders, or if you are a pro player then shoot an email to allan.donato@rxsport.com for pro orders. Or justbats.com for a smaller selection of stock.

Our Comparison chart for Online Stores can help you pick where to order your bats.  See who has free shipping, free return shipping, how long you have to return stuff, etc.

More from Baseball-Insider.com

About the Author: Doug Bernier

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

33 Comments

  1. Hello Mr. Bernier,
    I recently bought my first 2 wood bats with the intention of getting one for practice and one for games. One is an M9 and one is a Louisville Slugger Hard Maple. However, the latter feels better to me, so I want to use that in games despite it being lower quality. Is there any difference in performance in terms of hitting distance between higher quality and lower quality wood?
    Thank you very much for the help.

  2. Mr Bernier,

    Good informative article. I was wondering if you have heard of TRUMP bats and what your opinion on them may be. My coach from MSBL under 30 men’s team ordered them recently. It’s a 33in 29.2oz C243.
    Last year was my first year with wood, and I used a AP5 Marucci. Too many shots to the handle caused it to be short lived. I’m hoping this TRUMP bat lasts longer.

  3. Hi, just wanted to say, I enjoyed this blog post. It was helpful. Keep on posting!

  4. what does flame treating an ash bat do for the bat?

  5. Have you heard or used M^POWERED wood bats? I’m thinking about getting their birch bats. Also, are they certified by MLB?

    • Doug,
      How about Chandler bats. MT son loves these bats wont buy anything else. Louisville he likes as a second option.

      George

  6. hey im 12 and ill be playing in my first wood bat tournament ever so in other words this is my first time using wood in a game ever. I recently bought the marucci ap5 and its a great a durable bat but im worried that it might break what should I do? I was thinking of getting another ap5 and use one for practice/pre game warm ups and the other for the game. Is this a good idea? Or do you have any other suggestions? If you could please answer before May 4 if you have time.

    • RB,
      Thanks for writing in and good luck in your tournament. It sounds like you got a nice bat the AP5 is the Albert Pujols model bat. When it comes to wood no matter how good the bat is there is always a chance it could break. I know in my case I broke a lot more bats as I was learning to hit with wood. Using a wood bat it is important to really hit the ball on the barrel. Most people when starting to use wood bats break them because they hit the ball off the end of the bat, don’t be afraid to get jammed. Its always good to have at least a backup bat just in case your gamer breaks. Don’t feel you have to get another expensive bat, if you want get something with a similar feel but costs a little less, try it. Its a personal feel, if you really like the AP5 get another one. Its totally up to you but I think you should have another bat just in case. Unlike aluminum most people don’t like to share wood bats. Just understand that no matter how good a bat is it could break at any time. Good luck and thanks for writing in.
      Doug Bernier

      • Thank you Doug you really help me with my game and helping me get prepared for my games, especially in my first games with wood and being a beginner when it comes to hitting with wood.

  7. I have been researching bats more than usual lately since I had shoulder surgery. I have swung mostly BWP bats and Louisville’s. I have really been interested in x bats, Phoenix bats, old hickory and a couple others. I swing a lot of maple, but I get hooked every time I swing ash. I seem to hit the ball better and love the flex and overall feel of ash. I just always hear about how good everybody’s maple is and never hear about their ash. So do you know of any companies that our known for their ash? Have you swung ash from Phoenix? What ash do most pros swing? Thank you for all of your opinions and answers I appreciate it and love this website.

    • Dylan,
      Thanks for your question. I am glad you are trying different bat companies and using maple and ash. In my opinion bat companies are always talking about how good their maple is just because people like swinging maple bats. I wouldn’t go on what the companies are telling you. I would say almost half of professional baseball players prefer ash to maple. If you like using ash, I would stick with it. I have swung all the bat companies you have talked about and I liked them all, except for BWP (to be honest). Maybe I just had a bad batch of wood but I liked other companies better. I primarily swing Phoenix, I like the customer service and the wood I get has been very consistent. Pros swing a variety of bat companies but when it comes down to it, it is a personal preference of which bat company you like the best. A suggestion if you like the flex of ash but would prefer the longevity of maple, try birch wood. You can find them through Phoenix, Louisville, and B45 bat companies. They are starting to get more popular and some people really like using birch. I hope this helps you but make sure you are comfortable with which ever bat you choose.
      Doug Bernier

  8. Hi, I am 14 years old in middle school and eager to start my first high school baseball season. I was wondering, have you ever used bamboo or birch bats before? What is your opinion on them? I just purchased 3 bamboo bats from justbats.com for the minimal price of $90 (total), how they would compare to a maple or ash wood bat? Also, I have heard a lot of talk about birch wood bats and I was considering using one in high school. Do you believe they are the best overall wood bats? Would you recommend them over other types of wood? How would you compare the two (bamboo and birch)? Thanks!

    • Joey,
      Thanks for writing in. I get excited when players try different types of wood and see what they like for themselves. Everyone has a little different preference on what they like. I have never used bamboo before. Write back and let me know what you think of bamboo so I can pass along your feedback to anyone thinking of buying bamboo bats. I have used birch before and I like it. The way I describe it is the flex and feel of ash with the durability of maple. Birch bats need a break in period, so use them for batting practice to compress the wood. The more you use it the harder the wood gets and the better the ball will come off the bat. Bat companies that make birch bats suggest that you don’t use it in the game brand new. But I like birch. Maple and ash you can use brand new in a game if you want. I wouldn’t say any of the three types of wood are better than the others it is a personal opinion. I hope you enjoy your new wood bats and good luck this season.
      Doug Bernier

  9. I have a question and I’m really hoping you can answer it. So I’ve been looking for a maple bat and I’ve been wanting to get a louisville slugger and surprisingly I haven’t tried their maple bats yet. But I found this one bat that I really like it’s the Josh Hamilton model gh359jh or the h359 and they say it is the exact mlb quality wood that people like josh hamilton would be swinging in games. So is it true? Is it the EXACT same as major league? Because I always try to get the best quality wood that I can get and this caught my attention. You can find the bat on just bats.com

    • Ryan,
      Thanks for your question. I hate to inform you that when you order that model you are going to get the exact model he swings, but you will not be getting the same quality of wood Josh Hamilton will be using. I don’t know how it breaks down with maple but but with ash I believe there are 13 different qualities of wood and only the best of the best in the major leagues get the best quality. There are major leaguers that don’t get the same quality of wood as Josh Hamilton. That being said, maple bats are closer in quality than ash bats. If you want to try this model give it a try. It is so difficult to see a difference between different grades of maple bats. I think you should try it to see what you think. Most times (unless you find a high end sporting goods store) when you order off the internet you will probably be getting a slightly better product. I know thats not always the case but in my experience that is what I have found. Good Luck on your bat search.
      Doug Bernier

  10. What your opinion of Sam bats? My buddy was they are really good, but I don’t see them on your list. Thanks

    • Ben,
      Thanks for your comment. Sam bats are nice bats. They were very popular in the late 90′s and early 2000′s but you don’t see them used much anymore. If you can find them and want to pay the hefty price for one, you will most likely love it. I think you bring up a good point, I probably should put it on my list of bats. The reason I left them off is because they aren’t as popular as they once were. The maple they use is very hard, its a good wood bat.
      Doug Bernier

  11. Hi Doug, I would personally like to say thank you for creating this website it has helped me get better in all aspects of baseball and help better my weaknesses. It is people like you that everyone should look up to for the time and effort you put in to something that we all love…. baseball! Now I am 14 and committed in starting my journey to Major League Baseball. Im a freshman in high school and I am a small, speed guy that hits for base hits and play outfield. I am trying to get stronger to swing bigger bats. I can swing a 32.5 inch bat but my question was what type of bat do you recommend for a player like myself (regardless of price)? Thanks in advance.

    Quincy Hamilton

    • Quincy,
      Thanks so much for the kind words. I am glad you are getting a lot out of our website and good luck on your journey of baseball. I hope to see you in the big leagues in the future. Don’t worry about being small, there are many guys in the big leagues that aren’t very big. Also, being 14 you still have some growing to do.

      Bats can be a tricky thing. I recommend using wood as much as possible in practice. I have known some smaller guys use really big bats (34 or 35 inches) and choke up. They did this because the larger bats have bigger barrels, when they choked up the weight was balanced just right for them. I heard Tony Gwynn used a 32 inch bat for a while during his big league career. Length is personal preference.

      Since there are so many models out there a good place to start is the most common models Louisville slugger makes. These model numbers are usually used by other bat companies as well since most hitters are familiar with Louisville slugger models. As for a bat company Louisville is fine, but I am partial to smaller bat companies. I feel like I will get better wood, better customer service and it will take less time for the bats to get to me. I personally like Phoenix bats, that is what I use. Also if you use the promo code DOUGB10 on their website you get 10% off.

      The major models are:
      C271 – small tapered handle, small barrel
      P72 – similar to metal bat. Small handle, long medium barrel
      M110 – medium handle, medium barrel
      C243 – small tapered handle, large barrel
      I13 – medium tapered handle, long medium barrel
      S318 – medium tapered handle, large barrel

      Again most bat companies know these models and can make them also. If you like the 32.5 inch bat, great, work with that length. I hope this points you in the right direction in your bat selection process. It may take some time to find your perfect model.

      One more thing, maple will last longer than ash (unless you break it). Ash will eventually flake away on the barrel and no longer be usable. Ash does have more flex than maple and may feel lighter sometimes. Birch bats are starting to become more available now, they tend to have the flex of ash but the durability of maple. But with birch wood you have to break it in. Maple and ash you can use right away and see good results, a birch bat may need a couple hundred swings for it to compress and actually get harder. So if at first the ball isn’t coming off your bat too hot, remember to give it time and the bat will continue to get harder and the bales will come off better.

      I know this was long winded but I hope it helps get you started. Good luck
      Doug Bernier

  12. I have used the Akadema bats a few times. They even have a nice patented sunflower seed handle (Traktion). Have you used these bats at all?

    • James,
      Thanks for your question. I have not used Akadema bats and honestly I don’t see too many professionals using their bats. It does sound interesting with a textured handle which would give you a good grip. Maybe I am old school but I still like using pine tar to “tacky up” my grip, so a textured handle wouldn’t interest me too much but many people may prefer this type of bat and handle. Sorry I don’t have more information on these bats but I don’t have any experience with this bat company or this type of handle. If you do purchase this bat write me back because I would love to hear how you like it and how you liked the textured handle.
      Doug Bernier

  13. Wanted to ask about birch bats and how they compare to ash or maple. Trying to get a good bat for my son who is in high school and do not know about or hear much about birch wood bats. Looking at the Phoenix bats and like what I see, but don’t know about birch compared to other woods. Thanks.

    • Scott,
      Thanks for your question. I actually was talking to the owner of Phoenix bats not too long ago and he was telling me about his birch bats. Birch has the flexibility similar to ash but has the durability of a maple. The barrel won’t flake away like an ash bat, it actually compresses as you use it. Bat companies will tell you not to judge the bat when you first use it. Give it a week or so of batting practice and you should notice the ball coming off the bat better. I am actually planning on purchasing birch bats this season for myself. I think your son will like using them. Remember if you use Phoenix bats to put in the code DOUGB10 into the promo box on the Phoenix bats website and you will receive 10% off. Hope that helps answer your question.

      Doug Bernier

  14. Are there any good wood bats in a -8 or -10 that I can get cupped. If there aren’t any good quality ones then I’ll wait until I get a little bit older.

    • Jake,

      I was talking with the owner of Phoenix bats, they pride themselves on sending out good wood because they are a smaller company that takes pride in quality and not quantity. When you get wood bats from big companies that put out a lot of bats, the quality of the wood suffers when the bat gets lighter.

      Think about it for a second, the more dense the wood the heavier it is. So if you take two bats that are exactly the same model and size but one is 2 ounces lighter, it would make sense that the wood that was used wasn’t as good as the heavier bat.

      But he did tell me they could make a -7 or -8 ounce bat for young kids and about a -5 for kids around 12 years of age. I’m not sure how old you are but that was the answer I received. Keep in mind that if you get an evenly weighted bat it may seem lighter than it weighs. Bats tend to seem heavier when it has a big barrel and more of the weight is in the end portion of the bat.

      If you put in the promo code DOUGB10 you will also receive 10% off your bat order.

      You can also look at other bat companies we liked on our website

      Hope this helps.
      Doug Bernier

  15. Have you ever used Mad Dog Bats? I use them and my youth team uses them. Great bats you should check them out.

  16. what do you think about MADDOG BATS THEY HAVE SEVERAL DIFFERENT TYPES OF BATS

    • Chris,

      Thanks for your question. I have not heard of Maddog bats. I will keep a look out for them. Bat companies have to get their bats certified by MLB in order for players to use their bats in the minor leagues or big leagues. I don’t believe Maddog bat company has done that. Every year we get a list of bat companies that we can use and I will keep a look out for Maddog bat company.

      Doug Bernier
      Pro Baseball Insider

  17. Hi Doug,
    What do you think of MAX BATS? I would like to hear your opinion.
    Also, in the 70′s before the use of metal bats I used a Louisville Slugger MC44 33 inch. Louisville’s website appears inferior to other bat companies. Do you think I could get a Model MC44 bat custom made?

    Sincerely,

    Steve Klopp

    612-619-7760
    steveklopp@juno.com

    • Steve,

      Thanks for your question. First I want to say that I really like Max bats. I tried them for the first time this spring training and I thought they were nice. I only tried maple, not the ash. The bat seemed hard and durable. I have seen plenty of minor league and big league players using Max bats, they are starting to get more popular.

      I agree I don’t like Louisville Sluggers website. I am pretty sure you can order your MC44 bat but I would try calling them. It may be easier actually talking to someone that works there.

      Good Luck, hopefully you can get your bat.

      Doug Bernier
      Pro Baseball Insider

  18. K R 3 a canadian bat company formerly the cooper bat company.
    i have seen a lot of use in the west coast but not at the pro level. i think the companies that can drop money in the majors get great exposure,but there is this little guy with gr8 quality. as for affordability, they make a composite that is gr8 because it has the durability and the composite helps player as they learn to hit and they have a pop not like the other composites on the market.
    have a gr8 season
    danny

    • Danny,
      Thanks for your comment about the KR3 baseball bat. I havent heard of them but I will keep a look out. I know that for bat companies to be used at the pro level they need to be certified through Major League Baseball. I am not sure if they are, but I will keep an eye out.

      Thanks, Doug

  19. I am the father of two up and comers (13 and 9). I play in the MSBL myself. I just discovered your site and enjoy its’ content. I wondered if you could explore the RJ Johnson bat for your web. I have no connection with the company other than I use the bats myself. It is a storied old company founded by a legendary baseball coach in Maine who started hand turning bats for his players back in the 20′s. I look forward to exploring how I might be able to utilize your web site to help my kids. Thank you!

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