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Thursday, September 27, 2012

How Big League Bats Are Getting Harder Than Ever

Ted Williams looked for bats with knots in the barrel because, he thought, the compressed wood within the gnarls would return more energy upon impact with a pitched baseball. It’s the same reason that, dating back generations, players have worked over their bats by rubbing an animal bone lengthwise across the barrel, packing the raised grains of the wood and create a tight, level hitting surface.

It’s an ongoing quest for impermeability, which over recent years has led to the widespread use of maple bats — which are harder than traditional ash bats — and a variety of finishes. Never mind that testing has yet to draw conclusive results that this actually helps; the fact is Barry Bonds used a maple bat to swat 73 home runs in 2001, and a cavalcade of copycats quickly followed.

Now, Hillerich & Bradsby, maker of the famed Louisville Slugger, has upped the ante with its MLB Prime line, hitting stores Oct. 1. It called the Prime the hardest bat ever. In so doing, the company achieved two goals: It improved a product it provides to some 400 major leaguers, and it found a way to replicate the process en masse to make the bats commercially available.

It will be interesting to see what the effects (if any) of these bats are in in-game performance. There isn’t be anything in the article referencing any comparisions of exit speeds of balls off bats.

The John Wetland Memorial Death (CoB) Posted: September 27, 2012 at 01:45 PM | 6 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: business

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   1. Best Regards, President of Comfort, Esq. Posted: September 27, 2012 at 04:28 PM (#4247474)
How Big League Bats Are Getting Harder Than Ever
   2. Los Angeles El Hombre de Anaheim Posted: September 27, 2012 at 04:30 PM (#4247476)
That's what she said.
   3. Slivers of Maranville descends into chaos (SdeB) Posted: September 27, 2012 at 05:34 PM (#4247553)
Wonder who'll be the first player to use a bat made of lignum vitae?
   4. What did Billy Ripken have against ElRoy Face? Posted: September 28, 2012 at 03:27 PM (#4248262)
Why, by rubbing a bone lengthwise, of course.
   5. The Spirit of Salvador Perez Posted: September 28, 2012 at 04:26 PM (#4248307)
I was told this is the strongest wood
   6. Fernigal McGunnigle has become a merry hat Posted: September 28, 2012 at 04:33 PM (#4248313)
Wonder who'll be the first player to use a bat made of lignum vitae?

Lignum vitae is about twice as heavy by mass as ash, and ~75% heavier than maple. The modern trend has been towards lighter bats and higher bat speed and I doubt anyone would give that up for the harder wood. There's also this clause in the rules:

NOTE: No laminated or experimental bats shall be used in a professional game (either championship season or exhibition games) until the manufacturer has secured approval from the Rules Committee of his design and methods of manufacture.

MLB would probably designate a lignum vitae bat as "experimental" and so not allowed.

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