Do Expensive Baseball Bats Really Make a Difference?

If you haven’t bought a baseball bat since your Little League days and those came and went some time ago, you may be in for some serious sticker shock. Baseball bats have gotten very expensive, which leads to an incredibly obvious question.

Do expensive baseball bats make a difference?

Do expensive bats really make a difference? The answer is a solid “no, not really,” but there are some caveats that matter, so let’s take a deeper dive into the wonderfully weird world of baseball bats.

It’s definitely a strange place, but before we get deeper into any of that let’s answer the question in a little more depth and explore the cost.

Why bats got more and more expensive?

One of the reasons baseball bats have gotten more expensive is that manufacturers want us to believe that the extensive research, expensive materials, and sleek look and feel of today’s bats make a huge difference when it comes to actually hit the ball.

Nope.

Sorry, but any baseball bat, expensive or cheap, is basically a tool. If you use a cheap tool you may get compromised results, but the analogy here is that that expensive bat you coughed up serious cash for probably isn’t going to give you better results than its generic counterpart at the hardware store.

Is there any reason one should go for an expensive one?

There is one significant difference in today’s bats, though generally speaking, they do tend to be more durable.

They won’t break as easily, and if they’re made of aluminum, you can probably count on them lasting a lifetime, unless you start smacking around objects that weren’t meant to be hit by baseball bats.

Who should use expensive bats and why?

There is something to the research and materials that manufacturers have poured into the most expensive bats, though. If you’re a really good hitter at a really high level, that extra sweet spot may actually pay off in some extra distance when you make contact. And if you can actually calculate your launch angle when you make contact, then who knows, you may even be able to send the ball into orbit.

On a more serious note, the materials, research, and technology used to make today’s baseball bats are fascinating subjects, so let’s examine why bats have risen so much in cost and price.

We’ll start with wood. What matters here is the kind of wood manufacturers are using to make wooden bats, along with their point of origin.

Wooden Bats

Generally speaking, a good wooden bat will set you back about $30-40, which is probably a lot more than you got used to paying at your local sporting goods store back in the day. The price can go as low as $7 or as high as $300, but you should probably be appropriately suspicious of models at either end of the scale.

Wooden bats made of ash

Most wooden bats are made of ash, and there are all sorts of superstitions and semi-religious beliefs about which flavor of ash is best.

There’s also the maple wood school of thought. Aficionados of this kind of wood believe that it performs far better than its ash counterparts.

Some of these beliefs are legitimate, while others have the general validity of voodoo. What tends to drive up the price of wooden bats is brand names like Louisville Slugger, Axe, Marucci, and DeMarini. All of these companies have their followers, and all of them will eagerly swear to the superiority of their bats.

Other factors driving up prices

Marketing can also drive up the price of wooden bats in a completely different way. Throw the name of a prolific major league hitter on the bat, and its value instantly goes up. Sometimes a lot. This was true back in the day, too, and it’s true now, especially when those marketing heroes start hitting moon shots and threatening records.

Aluminium bats

Now let’s talk a little about-turn our attention to aluminum bats. Purists may hate that little “ping” sound that happens when the bat meets the ball, but that hasn’t stopped the aluminum bat from taking over the game at the lower levels.

Aluminum bats are also where the rubber hits the road when it comes to research. Price-wise, they generally start at about $30, rising to about $500 for the truly pricey ones.

The average tends to land in the $150-250 range, which may seem high until you’ve gone through a half-dozen wooden bats in a half-season and that shiny aluminum bat your buddy’s been using is still as shiny as when he picked it off the bat rack.

Carbon fibre bats

There are also composite bats that are usually made primarily of carbon fiber, and these are designed to either cut costs, mimic the feel of wood, or both.

So how do you choose the right bat for you? As confusing as it sounds, it’s not as hard as you might think.

There are three basic factors to consider: (1) budget (2) how frequently you’ll be using the bat (3) preference.

Budget tends to be the most important of the three for most of us. Now that you know the price range for most bats on the market, you can find something in your range.

If you do go with a wood bat, make sure you account for breakage, which is going to be an ongoing issue if you’re playing hardball.

Some wooden bats are blessed enough to be “forever” bats, but those innocent little foul balls that send ground balls dribbling in the general direction of the dugout can take out a lot of product, so you’ll need to budget accordingly.

Usage is the one that trips up a lot of people. If you’re an up-and-comer in high school or college, it makes sense to spend money on bats, the logic being that you need the best tool you can afford. But if you’re a once-a-week beer leaguer, it makes no sense to spend $300-500 for the ultimate wood or aluminum bat, unless doing that has some kind of special meaning for you.

Finally, there’s preference. Some wooden bat people simply hate the aesthetics and sound of aluminum, while there are aluminum types who think that wood bats made no sense at all because they’re so fragile. It’s a good idea to know which one you are and decide accordingly.