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## Wood Bat Selection – Bigger Diameter Wood Bats Are Not Always Better!

It never ceases to amaze me how so many hitters believe that using larger barrel wood baseball bats somehow makes them better hitters. What is so surprising is that they do not know why they think this. Most will say that bigger barrels means more bat hits the ball which adds power and that is simply not true. Others will say it gives them a better chance of hitting the ball, and while that has some validity, the types of contact it can give you are not what you want.

Let’s evaluate the last point of view first. Large barrel wood bats are generally 1/8 inch larger than medium barrel (2 1/2″). So at the point where the bat makes contact with the ball, you have extra coverage of 1/16″ on the top and bottom of the bat. . Doesn’t sound so big now does it? Returning to the point of contact, all balls hit to be hit in the sweet spot of the bat which is usually 2 inches from the end of the barrel and about 3 inches long. It is also about 1 inch tall centered on the edge grain in a line across the long axis of the bat. This is the maximum size of the sweet spot to be able to hit effectively. Anything hit above that line is a fly ball and anything below it. it’s a dirt ball (generally speaking). No matter which size you use, the height of this contact area does not change significantly. At the point of force contact, the ball will hit the bat in the sweet spot within 1/2″ of the centerline. Adding an additional 1/16″ to the outer edge (top and bottom) of the bat will not change the effective hitting area of the bat.

The downside to this is that you are adding extra weight to the end of the bat without increasing the efficiency of the stroke. Second, if you’re thinking you need that extra 1/8 inch when all effectively hit balls are in the 1 inch area we mentioned, then you’re hitting the philosophy seriously wrong. You have a negative hitting approach and are assuming you will lose the ball.

Let’s go to the first statement. Bigger wood bats don’t necessarily equate to harder hits. The hypothesis is that if the barrel is larger in diameter, there is more mass hitting the ball and therefore it hits harder. In comparison, a medium barrel wood bat will hit harder than a large barrel wood bat of the same weight. Also, a small (2 3/8″) barrel wood bat will hit harder than a medium barrel wood bat of the same weight. Still confused? I’ll explain this to you.

Let’s say we’re comparing a large barrel (2 5/8″) model 243 to a medium barrel (2 1/2″) 271. Both are 33″ long. In order to create the larger barrel size of the 243 and keep the weight is 30 oz (-3 drops), the bat maker must use a wooden bowl of about 120 oz weight.oz.. This means that the big barrel wood bat is made of wood lower density than the average barrel wood bat Lower density means less mass per unit of measurement and contradicts the thinking that larger barrel bats hit harder due to higher mass.

Doing the math (and physics) and calculating the kinetic energy of a 2″ section of the sweet spot of both models at a bat speed of 78 mph (average for college bb), we find that the energy kinetics of the medium barrel bat is 15. % higher than the larger barrel bat.This means that there is more force at contact with the ball with a medium barrel bat than a large barrel bat.

In a game of inches and speed, 15% is a pretty significant difference and an advantage most hitters would be foolish to give up.

This lower density also equates to higher breakage due to the lack of stiffness causing excessive flex of the bat on contact.

Of course, you can also increase the hitting power and decrease the break of a big barrel wood bat (or any other model) simply by increasing the weight of the bat and thereby increasing the density (more math).

So there you have it. Scientific proof that large wood bats do not necessarily hit harder than smaller wood bats. The next time you decide you want to hit harder, focus more on hitting the ball in the sweet spot of your wood rather than a bigger club.

by Fred Bonds

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