This 2020 guide for the best wood baseball bats, we’ll share our picks for the best wood bats on the market.
We’ll also take a look at some wood bat reviews to better understand which top wooden bats are the best buys, especially if you’re looking for a bat to serve a certain purpose, like best bat for high school or the best bat for a contact hitter and so on.
There is no sound quite as pure as that of a wood bat hitting a baseball. While most non-professional baseball leagues and players are used to the cacophonous ping of metal bats, it’s the crack of a wood bat that truly speaks baseball.
Wood bat reviews are few and far between, compared to their alloy and composite counterparts, but players still look for the best wood bats and some will even buy cheap wood bats simply to experience the sound and feel of a more “authentic” baseball bat.
If you’ve never purchased a wooden baseball bat before and are interested to learn more about the benefits, materials and history of these types of bats, you’ve come to the right place.
This 2020 guide will teach you everything you need to know about wood bats. You’ll find answers to questions like:
In this guide you’ll also learn:
- What Kind of Wood Are Baseball Bats Made of?
- What Is the Best Wood for a Baseball Bat?
- What Kind of Wood Bats Do the Pros Use?
- Which Wood Bat Has the Most Pop?
- What’s the Difference Between Ash and Maple Bats?
- Bamboo Bats vs. Wood Bats – Which Is Better?
- Is There an Unbreakable Wood Bat?
Top 10 Best Wood Bats for 2020: Reviews
Here’s a 2020 selection of good wooden bats offered by some of the best manufacturers and others.
As always, we try to choose bats that fit a number of different purposes and hitter preferences.
This list includes high-end, pro-inspired bats, as well as cheap wood bats that any player can afford.
Here are best wood bats 2020:
- Louisville Slugger MLB Prime Maple C271 Wood Baseball Bat
- Marucci AP5 Albert Pujols Maple Wood Baseball Bat
- Victus YI13 Custom Pro Reserve Youth Wood Baseball Bat
- Axe Pro Hard Maple L118 Wood Baseball Bat
- DeMarini Pro Maple Wood Composite Baseball Bat
- Rawlings Velo Adult Birch Wood Baseball Bat
- Old Hickory MT27 Custom Pro Maple Wood Baseball Bat
- Sam Bat 2K1 Custom Maple Wood Baseball Bat
- BambooBat Adult Bamboo Wood Baseball Bat
- MaxBat Pro Series 191 Wood Baseball Bat
Louisville Slugger MLB Prime Maple C271 Wood Baseball Bat
When it comes to what the pros use, look no further than the Maple C271. It is the most popular turn (cut) of Major League players that Louisville Slugger offers. This model is the starting point for all of the company’s medium barrels.
The C271 features a standard handle with a medium barrel (approximately 2.5 inches in diameter). The 271 is known for a quick taper, which usually yields an end loaded swing. Learn more in our breakdown of popular wood bat cuts.
What makes this bat stand out is that, despite this fast taper, the MLB Prime Maple C271 actually has a balanced swing and is a favorite among contact and power hitters.
|Louisville Slugger MLB Prime C271|
Another high-quality feature of this bat is the wood itself. Louisville Slugger starts with the densest billet they can find. This produces a bat with consistent and uniform hardness from knob to barrel cup.
The bat manufacturer only uses MLB-grade wood in their Prime bats. This standard ensures that this bat is only made with the top 3% of wood acquired by Louisville Slugger.
Lastly, the bat undergoes the bone rubbing process, which helps tighten the bat’s pores and make the maple wood even denser.
The result is some seriously explosive pop, especially for a wood bat.
Louisville Slugger now uses a special EXOARMOR finish on their Prime bats. This innovative finish reinforces the bat with twice its regular hardness. These bats will not break easily!
The standard MLB Prime C271 is a gloss black. However, for an added price, you can customize your bat with a number of different colors and style options to make a really unique bat that fits your personal style.
- Built to last, which means fewer broken bats.
- Lots of color options, if you are willing to spend a little extra.
- Only crafted from the top 3% of all wood that Louisville Slugger uses.
- In between a balanced and end loaded swing means it isn’t truly designed for either.
There’s a lot of large and small bat companies across the world, but none have the history of Louisville Slugger. Not only is this bat high-performing and built to last, but you get to hold a piece of baseball history every time you step to the plate.
Marucci AP5 Albert Pujols Maple Wood Baseball Bat
You don’t have to spend much time thinking about the career of Albert Pujols, who recently clubbed his 633rd career home run, to reach the conclusion that this guy knows hitting.
Thus, having a bat designed and inspired by such a high-caliber pro is something that few bat companies can deliver on like Marucci does.
This maple bat, true to Pujols’ real in-game bat, has a 2.5-inch barrel diameter, elongated barrel and a reasonably fast taper. The end is cupped, which makes the weight distribution a little more even.
Together, these specifications produce a top-heavy bat that actually feels balanced.
|Marucci AP5 (Albert Pujols)|
Marucci makes all of their Pro-model bats from only the highest quality, Pennsylvania lumber they can find. This helps ensure that all of their bats are durable, high-performing and flawless.
Additionally, they make every one of these bats by hand and in small batches. While this may slow their production rate, it means your bat will be made precisely to your specifications and without error.
To finish each bat, Marucci applies a penetrating stain that gets into the bat’s pores for look. Then, they bone rub the surface to close the pores and seal the stain in to make sure that look lasts.
This process also makes the bat denser and thereby produce more pop.
- Inspired by three-time MVP and the eighth all-time home run hitter, Albert Pujols.
- 100% handcrafted from only the best Pennsylvania lumber that Marucci harvests.
- Long, heavy barrel produces some huge hits from the right type of hitter.
- Long, heavy barrel isn’t easily swingable by every player.
- According to Marucci wood bat reviews, their darker bat colors show scuffs and marks easily.
There’s a lot of baseball brands and bat companies that offer pro-inspired products, but none of them quite do it like Marucci. This is Pujols’ bat and you can own it and swing it. That’s something that you can’t get anywhere else.
Victus YI13 Custom Pro Reserve Youth Wood Baseball Bat
Youth wood bats are few and far between, especially ones that actually perform and aren’t just for novelty purposes. The Victus YI13 is the youth version of Victus’ adult I13 turn bat.
This bat cut has a flared knob, slight end load and heavier barrel, compared to other youth bats, at 2.25-inches in diameter. This added mass in the barrel puts more power behind each swing.
However, with the thin handle of the I13 cut, there could be some issues with the bat breaking. That said, Victus backs this youth bat with a 45-day warranty.
|Victus YI13 (Youth)|
What’s nice about this and other Victus bats is the number of options they offer. Sure, most bats allow you to choose color options (and Victus has plenty of those), but this bat company also allows you to choose the material, between ash, maple or birch.
This gives a lot more freedom with the bat you order. You can also personalize your bat further with your name and some sticker graphics on the barrel or knob.
Victus handcrafts each of their bats, which puts a 2-3 week wait on any ordered bats (you can pay extra to express it to one week).
They put a ProPACT finish on each bat, which helps protect the colors and stains, while simultaneously enhancing the overall integrity and strength of the bat.
- A wood youth baseball bat that actually performs.
- Handmade with a close attention to details.
- Lots of color and design options, like the choice of wood material.
- 45-day warranty is rare in the wood bat world.
- Heavy barrel and thin handle can make the bat more likely to break, especially with youth players who don’t always make solid contact on the barrel of the bat.
If you want your youth player to experience the feel and impressive sound of a wood bat, then this may be the best youth wood bat you’ll find. All of the youth wood bat reviews have lots of positives to say about Victus and this bat.
Axe Pro Hard Maple L118 Wood Baseball Bat
If you aren’t familiar with Axe bats, it’s worth a little research into their nontraditional knob and one-sided hitting surface.
This revolutionary design is catching a lot of attention lately and their wood bats are being used by pro players like Mookie Betts.
This particular Axe bat is tapered for speed and power, thanks to its 271 turn.
While 271 cut bats are typically closer to the end load spectrum, this cupped end of this bat produces a much more balanced swing.
|Axe L118 (271 Profile)|
Thanks to the patented Axe handle, the player is able to produce more bat speed. The faster taper of the bat, which displaces more weight in the barrel, is greatly helped by this added speed.
Since the handle allows them to swing faster, they put more speed behind the mass-heavy barrel. The result is some seriously powerful contact.
The other benefit of the Axe handle is it is more comfortable and safer on the player’s hands.
The traditional knob of most wood bats can actually lead to injury. As the player swings, that knob can press in on the player’s palm. This can cause nerve damage and even fracture the hand.
The Axe handle is more natural and the flat back doesn’t press into the player’s palm.
- Axe handle produces better control, speed and is safer on the hands.
- A balanced swing weight with some serious power capabilities.
- Metal Axe bats are able to reinforce the single hitting side, but that isn’t possible with a wood bat; this could lead to more frequent breaks, but nothing has been proven.
- Doesn’t benefit from AXE’s “No Risk 30-Day Challenge,” like their metal bats do.
- Nontraditional handle might take some getting used to, according to AXE wood bat reviews.
Axe bats make a really compelling case for why the traditional knob of wood bats is obsolete and even unsafe. If you haven’t tried one of these bats before, we suggest using their No Risk Challenge and testing out a metal bat first.
DeMarini Pro Maple Wood Composite Baseball Bat
DeMarini has shifted their focus away from full wood bats. In previous years, they had a broader selection of these types of bat. Today, they only have one model, which is a maple composite bat.
The good news is that it is available in all four of the common bat cuts (110, 243, 271 and I13). Thus, most hitters can find a turn that suits their unique batting preferences.
Since the bat is available in each turn, we won’t spend time discussing the various barrel diameters, handle thicknesses and the like.
Instead, the attention will be on the materials that make up this composite bat and how they enhance the hitter’s performance.
The barrel is made entirely from high-quality maple. The handle, on the other hand, is a mix between maple wood and composite materials.
Not only does this reinforce the bat’s durability and makes it much harder to break, but it also gives the bat a little bit of flex. This is not common in maple bats.
According to BBCOR wood bat reviews, these bats are BBCOR certified. However, the primary drawback to DeMarini’s Pro Maple Wood Composite bats is that they aren’t allowed in many leagues outside of college and high school play.
You should definitely review your league rules before buying one of these composite wood bats.
- Composite maple handle makes these bats as close to unbreakable as possible.
- Available in all four of the common wood bat turns.
- Longer warranty than a traditional wood bat, thanks to the reinforced composite handle.
- Not permissible in most leagues.
As one of the only composite bat options to make our list, it is an important addition. If this bat is available to use in your league or you are tired of breaking cheap maple bats during practice, this is a great option.
Rawlings Velo Adult Birch Wood Baseball Bat
With the most popular 110 wood bat cut, the Rawlings Velo birch bat has a great balanced feel that is capable of top-level swing speeds in the right hands.
The end of the bat is cupped for even greater balance. The handle is 15/16 inch thick (57/64 inch to be exact), which is a little thinner than the typical 110 cut.
Birch wood is favorable because it has the soft, flexible feel of ash wood, with the durability of maple. Its drawback is that it lacks the pop that some of the extra-hard maple bats achieve.
For that reason, this Rawlings Velo birch bat is best suited for contact hitters that want a fast-swinging, balanced stick to drive balls through the gaps.
While this bat lacks some of the color design options that other bats have, the white birch matches the light blue handle and Rawlings and Velo logos quite nicely.
The bat is fairly priced and may be one of the best cheap wood bats made from birch that you can find.
- Very popular 110 turn creates a balanced weight capable of great swing speeds.
- Birch wood has lots of key traits like being flexible, soft and durable.
- Affordable price point makes it a good wood bat for players on a budget.
- No color or appearance options.
- Lacks the handcrafted quality of some other bats.
- Birch wood doesn’t have the pop that maple has.
Birch is one of the best wood for bats, even without the added carry that maple offers. If you’re a balanced hitter looking at cheap wooden bats that are proven to perform well, this is your answer.
Old Hickory MT27 Custom Pro Maple Wood Baseball Bat
It’s no secret that Mike Trout has been one of the most, if not the most, dominant hitters in the last half-decade. His bat of choice is his Custom Pro Old Hickory maple bat.
This features an elongated barrel, 2.5-inch barrel diameter, a thin handle at 29/32 inch and a standard knob.
Given the immense status of an all-star like Mike Trout, it’s no wonder that Old Hickory sells his bat with his exact specifications.
If you don’t like Trout’s measurements, you can make your own Custom Pro. If you choose that route, there’s tons of different options to choose from.
|MT27 Custom Pro|
Not only can you change the color of the handle, barrel and Old Hickory logo, but you can also inscribe your own name to the bat.
These options aren’t just stylistic; you can also pick out which type of wood you want, from Rock Maple, Yellow Birch and Northern White Ash.
No matter what wood type you choose, Old Hickory only uses the top grade of wood available.
As these are handmade, custom bats, your order may take some time to be processed. This is especially true if you’re ordering multiple bats at once.
While handmade bats are certainly higher quality products, the wait might be inconvenient if you need a replacement bat quickly.
- A bat inspired by one of the greatest hitters in the game today.
- Lots of options available to change, if Mike Trout’s measurements don’t mesh with your own.
- High quality materials, no matter what type of wood you choose.
- Handmade bats take long to produce and can be difficult to replace.
Whether you’re looking for a Mike Trout replica bat or something to use in games for yourself, Old Hickory has the answer. No matter what bat you choose, you’ll be getting a high-quality stick from only the best wood.
Sam Bat 2K1 Custom Maple Wood Baseball Bat
If you’re a power hitter, then you’re undoubtedly inspired by some of the game’s greatest home run sluggers. Controversies aside, there’s no home run hitter as prominent as Barry Bonds.
The Sam Bat 2K1 maple wood bat is the same stick that Bonds used when he slugged 73 home runs in a single season (it’s also responsible for a large number of his 762 career home runs).
Today, the bat is used by the likes of Prince Fielder, Mike Morse and others.
The bat has a large, bell-like knob flare, followed by a 15/16 inch handle and then a 2.55-inch barrel diameter (slightly fatter than most barrels).
The transition between handle and barrel tapers quickly for a weighted end load that is perfect for crushing balls to unheard of distances.
You can choose the inscription, length, weight and cup of the bat. If you want a different knob (the large flare isn’t every hitter’s favorite), there is another model with the same dimensions, yet a less dramatic flare.
The traditional “Barry Bonds” model has a cherry handle, black barrel and gold lettering, but these color options can be changed as well.
- A true power hitting slugger’s bat.
- Extra fat barrel for even more hitting surface and a larger sweet spot.
- Stay true to the Barry Bonds look and measurements or make the custom 2K1 your own.
- Large flared knob isn’t a favorite amongst the wood bat reviews.
- Quick taper might be too end weighted for some hitters.
Barry Bonds was a diligent student to the art of hitting home runs, but his custom Sam Bat 2K1 certainly helped in his quest to break records and land himself in the baseball history books. Having the same bat in your hands is an experience that only this Sam Bat can bring you.
BambooBat Adult Bamboo Wood Baseball Bat
Bamboo is a strong, durable wood, which makes it an interesting baseball bat material. BambooBat has tried to fill the niche for bamboo bats by focusing all their efforts on delivering high-quality bamboo bats.
They are so sure of the lifespan of their bamboo wood sticks that they back them with an unheard of 100-day manufacturer’s one-time warranty replacement. This is the best warranty available in the wood bat world.
|Adult Bamboo (HGBB100D)|
While bamboo bats are sturdy and should last you awhile, there isn’t a lot else going on for these bats.
They lack the pop that you can get with a maple, ash, birch or composite bat, which makes their usefulness in games very diminished.
BambooBat tries to remedy this with a matte finish to their bats. The gritty texture of this finish is said to produce extra backspin on batted balls for added carry.
By the numbers, this bat has 2.625 inches of barrel diameter, a 15/16-inch handle and a slightly longer barrel.
It’s also extra affordable, which means it could make a truly great practice bat. Again, its capabilities in live play are going to be less than your average non-bamboo bat.
- Extra durable bamboo is very hard to break.
- Backed by a 100-day replacement guarantee in case the bat does break.
- Low price point make it an affordable option for a player that isn’t looking to spend a lot.
- Lacks the performance of other good wood bats made from ash, maple or other types of wood.
- Bamboo bats aren’t made from a solid piece of wood, but rather various strips of bamboo bonded together, this creates poor energy transfer to batted balls.
BambooBat bamboo wood bats are incredibly sturdy and their 100-day replacement guarantee is nothing to ignore. But, they aren’t very good with live pitching, which makes them a great practice bat, but sadly not much more.
MaxBat Pro Series 191 Wood Baseball Bat
MaxBat is the chosen bat company for a number of Major Leagues, like Wil Myers, Trevor Plouffe and others. The Pro Series 191 is their most popular wood bat and for good reason.
The bat features a long taper transition between handle and barrel. This produces a more evenly balanced bat that is comfortable to swing by any player.
For this reason, the Pro Series 191 is a very popular bat among players that are transitioning from a metal bat to a wood bat.
|Pro Model 191|
In measurements, the Pro Series 191 has a 15/16-inch handle, a 2.5-inch barrel diameter and a 2-inch flared knob. You can adjust the length and drop weight to fit your needs.
You can also change if the end of the barrel is cupped or not. The cupped end can translate into a faster swing speed and an even more balanced bat.
MaxBat also gives you the option of which type of wood you like and the finish on the bat, between gloss and matte.
Like many of the other bat manufacturers, you can pick the color or stain of the bat to fit your personal style or team colors.
What’s nice about MaxBat’s customization options is they allow for measurements to be adjusted in increments of a quarter inch, whereas most other bat companies only allow for changes to be made in half inches.
This allows for a greater level of customization, especially in altering the length and weight of your bat.
- A great transition bat for those that aren’t used to swinging a wood bat.
- Lots of customization options that allow measurements to be changed in increments of a quarter inch.
- Takes 1-4 weeks to ship if you choose a custom MaxBat stick.
MaxBat’s are great products that offer more customization, in terms of measurements, than any other company. The Pro Series 191 has all of the fixings of a great wood bat.
A Brief History of Wood Baseball Bats
In 1884, the design and future of wooden baseball bats changed for good when 17-year-old John “Bud” Hillerich came to the rescue of the then-slumping star, Pete Browning, of Louisville’s Major League team.
As the story goes, Bud had slipped away from his father’s woodworking shop to watch the game.
When Browning broke his bat, the young Hillerich seized the opportunity to invite the hitter to the workshop, where he would craft him the world’s first modern baseball bat.
The following day, Browning slugged three hits with his new stick and word quickly spread of Hillerich’s bat-making prowess. And, the Louisville Slugger was born.
Before this chance encounter between Hillerich and Browning, the shape and design of the baseball bat changed depending on which player you asked.
Largely, hitters were required to provide (and often craft) their own bat to play. This gave way to some truly wacky designs, since each hitter had their own unique understanding as to what made a bat effective.
There was Nap Lajoie’s “mushroom” bat, which had a much larger knob to act as a counterweight for the much heavier bats of his time.
Even weirder was the “banana bat” design of Emile Kinst, which featured a dramatic curve in the barrel of the bat.
Kinst believed that this would produce such a rotational spin on batted balls that it would be difficult for the opposing team to catch and field.
Luckily for present day hitters, wood baseball bats have remained largely unchanged for the past 100 years, which makes finding the best wooden bats much easier today.
Top rated wood bats on the market now have very few differences in designs and mostly differ by the type and quality of wood used.
Types of Wood Bats
Wood bats are made from many different materials. There’s bats made from ash and maple, there’s even bamboo bats, birch wood bats and composite wood bats (made from multiple types of wood or other materials).
Understanding what is the best type of wood bat is difficult because each material has its own unique set of pros and cons.
For example, if you wanted to know what type of wood bat has the most pop, the answer is different than if you were looking for the lightest wood bat.
Here’s a list of the common wood materials used and their case for being the best wood for baseball bats.
One of the most common materials for wood baseball bats, ash is popular because it is lightweight and flexible. This is why a lot of balanced wood bats are made from ash.
The flexibility allows ash bats to achieve great bat whip through the zone and the lighter weight is perfect for contact hitters.
Part of what makes ash so lightweight and flexible is its grain structure. The grains of ash wood are farther apart than other types of wood, which gives the wood a spongy, soft feel.
Despite this soft grain structure, ash is a fairly durable material.
Unlike ash, maple wood grain is tight. This allows maple bats to be very durable, even more so than ash. This tight grain structure also gives maple bats some added weight, for even greater pop on batted balls.
Maple bats are popular with players looking for the strongest wood bat. They also make some of the best wood bats for power hitters.
The drawback to maple material is the added weight might be too heavy for some hitters.
It’s the best of both worlds; birch bats have the flexibility of ash with the durability of maple. It’s also very lightweight and ideal for contact hitters that need the extra bat speed.
The drawback to birch wood bats is that they don’t have the extra pop that maple bats experience.
While not as common as ash or maple, bamboo wood bats have a lot going for them. They are the most durable wood bats, even more so than maple.
Many wood bat companies that make these bats even guarantee them with a warranty, because bamboo bats are so durable.
Bamboo is a strong wood in itself, but the durability of these bats is reinforced by how they are made.
Whereas a normal ash or maple bat is made from a solid piece of wood, bamboo bats are made from individual strips of bamboo that are bonded and pressed together. This gives them a much lower chance of breaking.
When comparing bamboo bats vs maple bats, the bamboo may be more durable, but they lack the performance of the maple bat. Thus, bamboo bats make great practice bats, but not game bats.
As the name suggests, composite baseball bats are made from a combination of different materials.
For example, a composite bat might have a bamboo core with a maple shell (thereby having the pop of maple with the durability of bamboo).
Alternatively, a composite bat could have a carbon fiber handle with a maple or ash barrel.
In this respect, judging composite wood bats vs wood bats can be difficult because there are so many different variations of composite clubs.
Overall, composite are some of the best performing wood bats. However, in most cases, the best composite wood bat is also going to be the most expensive wood bat.
It’s also important to note that the majority of leagues require composite wood bats to have the BBCOR-certified stamp. There are some leagues that disallow composite wood bats completely.
Thus, it is important to check your league rules before shopping for BBCOR wood bats.
For more information, check out this article: Best BBCOR Baseball Bats
Types of Wood Bat Cuts
Aside from the material(s) used, wood bats also differ based on the cut of the bat. There are four common types of cuts.
These determine the shape of the bat, in terms of its handle thickness, barrel diameter and even barrel length.
Again, the following four cuts are just the most popular. Many wood bat brands offer many other cuts.
Even small wood bat companies allow a player to customize every measurement of their bat from knob to barrel.
This cut typically features a 1-inch thick handle (sometimes 15/16-inch) that slowly tapers into a 2.5-inch barrel diameter.
This long taper helps disperse the bat’s weight evenly, which makes 110 cuts common for contact hitters.
The last notable design element of 110 bats is a small knob.
Unlike the 110, this cut has a much quicker taper, which produces more end loaded wood bats.
Aside from the taper, the 271 cut is very similar to the 110; it has the same 2.5-inch barrel diameter and a 15/16-inch thick handle (very close to the 1-inch handle).
This cut has a thicker, 2.625-inch barrel diameter, but a thinner 29/32-inch thick handle. It also has a medium taper for a slight end load.
This cut isn’t recommended for hitters that aren’t used to hitting with a wood bat.
The slight end load and thin handle makes it prone to breaking if contact isn’t made in the end of the barrel.
The I-13 cut is a little more sturdy. It has some of the same dimensions as the 243 cut, but with a more gradual taper.
With a little less of an end load, these thin handle wood bats aren’t quite so fragile as the 243.
Choosing the Right Wood Bat for You
With all of the different brands, wood types and cuts it can be difficult to find the best wood bats for you and your unique preferences and needs.
Every hitter is different so what is the best wood bat for you, isn’t going to be the top option for another player and vice versa.
Understanding who you are as a hitter and what type of bat you’ll perform best with is always important, but it is arguably more crucial when picking a wood bat because there are so many more things to consider.
When buying the best wood bat for yourself, there are a few questions you should answer first. This will help you better understand the products you should be looking at.
What Will You Use the Bat for?
Players buy wood bats for different reasons. If you just want a bat to bring to the park with some friends, you don’t need to look for the best wood baseball bats; you just need a good, cheap wood bat that will last.
On the other hand, if you’re looking for the best BBCOR wood bat for high school, then you’ll only want to shop from the best wood bat brands, as the performance of your bat is going to be paramount.
What Type of Wood Bats Does Your League Allow?
Not every league allows wood bats and an even fewer number of leagues allow composite wood bats (especially ones that use carbon fiber and other non-wood materials in the design).
Before making any final purchasing decision, it’s important to consider your league rules and what is permissible.
For example, the Little League Baseball bat rules for their Intermediate Division and Junior League states:
[The bat] shall not be more than 34″ inches in length; nor more than 2⅝ inches in diameter, and if wood, not less than fifteen-sixteenths (15/16) inches in diameter (7/8 inch for bats less than 30″) at its smallest part. Wood bats taped or fitted with a sleeve may not exceed eighteen (18) inches from the small end.
Under this rule, the I-13 and 243 cuts aren’t allowed in the Intermediate Division / Junior League of the Little League Baseball because the “smallest part” of the bat, the handle, is less than 15/16 inches.
The rule also goes on to explain which composite bats are allowed as well.
Every league has a similar rule that details the specific measurements and specifications of a bat. If you do not check these specifications first, then you might accidentally buy an illegal bat for your league.
Are You a Contact Hitter or Power Hitter?
The type of wood and cut of the bat will ultimately decide if it is better suited for a contact or power hitter.
A cut with a slower taper will produce a more balanced swing that is favored by contact hitters, while a fast or medium taper produces a slight end load, which gives power hitters the added heft that they look for.
The type of wood also matters, a lightweight ash or birch bat is often prefered by contact hitters over a heavier maple.
How Many Bats Do You Need?
This question is only asked by serious hitters that plan to use their bat in games against live pitching.
Even the best BBCOR wood bat made from bamboo or composite materials is bound to break eventually. There is no unbreakable wood bat. Thus, hitters using wood bats need at least one backup, in case the bat breaks in the middle of a game.
This question won’t affect the material or cut of the bat you choose, but it may influence which bat manufacturer you buy from, as some offer better deals on bat bundles than others.
What Bat Brand Do You Like the Most?
From your very first bat, you begin to establish relationships with bat manufacturers.
Baseball players are notorious for their superstitions and many will stay with the same bat brand for the majority of their career, even if there are better options out there. You probably have a bat brand you’re most familiar with.
Unfortunately, few top baseball bat brands make wood and metal bats, which means the brand that you’re most comfortable using might not be in the business of crafting wood bats.
Choosing the Best Wood Bat Manufacturer
For ball players, finding a new bat manufacturer is like choosing a life partner. It isn’t a decision made easily. You’ll probably have to test out a few wood bats before you find that perfect fit.
To help make that tough choice a little easier, here are some of the top wood bat makers and what you can expect from their brand:
It’s hard to knock the originator of the modern wood baseball bat. Andre Ethier, Curtis Granderson, Cody Bellinger, Zack Cozart, Christian Yelich, David Wright and many other players honor the oldest bat company by slugging their way to victory with these bats.
Louisville Slugger has a number of different cuts and they make their bats from ash, maple and birch.
They also use a number of stains with their bats to deliver unique looks and colors for some truly cool wood bats.
Next to Louisville Slugger, there is no bat brand so ingrained in modern baseball as Marucci.
When it comes to MLB wood bats, Marucci tops the list. David Ortiz, Buster Posey, Jose Bautista, Anthony Rizzo, Andrew McCutchen, the list of all-star caliber players that use Marucci bats goes on and on.
Marucci wood bats are consistently built with a high level of craftsmanship. They rarely receive negative feedback from players, with regards to their wood bats.
Their reputation in the Big Leagues is evidence enough of their high-quality maple and ash bats.
In the baseball world, Rawlings is a name as respected and known as Louisville Slugger.
While they are mostly known for producing some of the best baseball gloves, they have a broad selection of bats available as well. They craft maple, ash, birch and composite wood bats.
If you’re looking for the cheapest wood bats, Rawlings is a great option because they sell “blem” (short for blemish) bats.
Some of these bats have been returned by a buyer because they didn’t fit their specific measurements, while others simply have a paint discoloration, off-centered logo or another small flaw.
These bats aren’t any more or less durable than a normal Rawlings wood bat.
If you’re looking for a composite wood bat, DeMarini specializes in maple-composite wood bats.
Unfortunately, their bats are only certified for a few leagues (Perfect Game, Short Season A and Rookie Ball), which rules them out as an option for many players.
Victus might not be the household names that Louisville Slugger and Rawlings are, but their bats are still excellent quality and have been used by pros like Kris Bryant, Dustin Pedroia and Mookie Betts.
Making a custom bat through Victus yields a lot of options, like a half or full cup end, maple, birch or ash wood and a range of lengths and weights.
Similar to Louisville Slugger, Victus also has a number of stain and color options. They even take it a step further by letting the player choose a different color for the handle than the barrel for a truly custom look.
These handcrafted wood bats are definitely worth the look and their 45-day warranty is a rare bonus feature in the wood bat world.
By following this definitive 2020 guide to wood baseball bats, there is no part of choosing, buying or owning a wood bat that eludes you.
You’re a bonafide expert in all things ash, maple, birch, bamboo and composite wood bats.
Hopefully, our list of the top bat manufacturers and best wood bat reviews has helped you find a bat that will serve you well in your next and future at bats.