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November 7, 2019 | by | @BatDigest
We asked 700+ people in the performance bat space about their experience with shaved bats.
The responses were anonymous and revealed a great deal about bat shaving and its prevalence. We also did a side by side test of two identical bats, one of which was shaved. That side by side is in the video below.
Bat shaving is the illegal process by which a composite bat has the inside of its barrel cored out to become more flexible and have better performance. The practice is uncommon and considered dangerous. Our data indicates that those who shave their bats think it more prevalent than it actually is.
Our survey found almost 90% of the people who read our site know what bat shaving is.
It isn’t easy to tell if a bat has been shaved, but it is far from impossible. The most common way is by compression testing—too low a compression and the bat has likely been manipulated. Compression testers are not cheap, but as an industry standard, there is nothing more reliable.
That said, we think a kitchen scale could be as useful as they are inexpensive and accurate. Shaved bats tend to weigh less than their stated weight. Almost all bats come built weighing MORE than their stated weight (grips, end caps and other things do this). So, if you find a performance bat weighing less than its sticker, you could bet something is up. (There are, of course, some exceptions). If a bat sounds funny, hits the ball a country mile and weighs under its sticker, we’d bet good money it was shaved.
If you really want to know, and you don’t want to take off the end cap and you don’t have a compression tester, you can calculate the swing weight of a bat. This is also a pretty fail safe way to determine if a bat has been shaved. Shaved bats are way under their expected swing weight. Although it would take some training, the pieces of equipment to do so could easily be taken to a field. We talk about measuring swing weight in a DIY fashion here.
Another fool proof way to determine if a bat has been shaved is to take off the bat’s end cap and look inside the barrel. This, of course, is not very practical. Yet you would be able to tell if the bat has been shaved.
Many think they can tell if a bat has been shaved by the sound. In fact, more than 50% of the people who claimed they were confident they played against a shaved bat was because they though it sounded funny. Shaved bats do have a different, more hollow sound. They sound like that 2017 CF Zen which was made illegal.
It is true that bats which have been shaved do sound different. In practice, though, it is rather hard to tell just by listening. If you are very familiar with the bat and its sound then it is possible, but it is far from a fool proof test.
In our survey, we asked how common people believed bat shaving was. Most thought somewhere between 1 out of 5 to 50 teams have one player that uses a shaved bat. However, as our data showed, it’s much closer to 1 out of 50 teams than 1 out of 5 teams and very possibly more like 1 out of 100+.
Of the 784 people that took the survey, only 25 of them admitted to using, or having their player/child use, a shaved bat during at least one game. That means at most, 1 out of 35 teams have a player that has used a shaved bat at least once. These numbers are likely skewed high compared to the actual every game usage due to the fact that only people who read our site took the survey. We don’t know how strong a correlation. Yet, we are confident that those who read a site about baseball bats are much more likely to know about bat shaving and participate in the process.
Using 1 out of 35 teams as our baseline, we’d guess the real life number is more like 1 out of 90+ teams has a player that at some point used a shaved bat. Note the survey could only determine if they ever used a shaved bat, not if they used a shaved bat all the time. It is likely, in those 1 out of 90 teams you face, the kid who has a shaved bat didn’t use it. Although we don’t have concrete numbers, those factors and our verified 1 out of 35 readership, make us believe the actual prevalence of shaved bats is 1 out of no less than 100.
In other words, using the language of our survey table above, shaved bats are virtually non existent.
We asked those who admitted to shaving their bats why they made the decision to go this route, and they all have their reasons. One thing made clear by the data is that dads who shave their son’s bats think the practice is much more prevalent than it actually is.
This isn’t surprising thinking, but it’s fun to see that our survey confirmed it. It’s part of the sales pitch from the folks that shave bats—everyone is doing it. It isn’t cheating, they claim, as much as it is just leveling the playing field.
That’s a nice sales pitch, but it just isn’t true.
Those who have used shaved bats are…
But, in reality:
Unsolicited Advice: If you’re a dad justifying shaving your son’s bat because you’ve been told everyone is doing it, it might surprise you to find out you might actually be the only one. The odds are, in a tournament of 50 teams, you’d be the only doing it.
And, for the record, the guys shaving bats have no incentive to tell you no one is doing it. We’d trust our anonymous survey way before we’d trust a guy who profits off telling you everyone is cheating and so should you.
Looking at the write-ins gave decent insight as to thinking of those who allowed shaved bats to be used during their game. Here are a couple.
Our best response, though, is an email from one dad who explained much of his thinking. It’s informative to hear his response. While it is easy to blast his thinking, we actually greatly appreciate him taking the time to let us understand where he’s coming from. This is the unfiltered mindset of a guy who shaves his son’s bat regularly. Of course we think he’s wrong for a number of swing weight issues that we won’t get into here. But, regardless, we have made #respect for him owning it.
Hey Bat Digest,
I started shaving my son’s bat when he was 8, the bats were too heavy, he couldn’t swing them. 28/17 Easton mako weighed 18.3. I sent it off … and it came back 17.2, when you pay $300 for a bat and then your son can’t use it, you do what you can so he can use it.
Does my kid hit any further than others? I don’t think so.
Does the ball fly off the bat not any more than others? It does make it lighter so my son can swing the bat.
You don’t see that much of a difference.
Is it cheating? yes.
But if you talk to the bat shavers they will all tell you they do thousands of bats a month.
So is it cheating when the kid on the other bench has one? No, it makes it fair playing field. Nobody is going to say, “hey I shave my kids bat.”
629 respondents weighed in on the question of whether shaved bats are illegal. Over 80% of people said shaved bats are never legal. Another 10% said it was only legal if the tournament explicitly said so. The remaining were either not sure, thought that unenforced bat rules meant shaving was legal or that it was simply legal.
We asked those who think shaved bats are only allowed if a tournament doesn’t explicitly say they are not. We sorted those by the location they were used. The place: Cooperstown Dream Park. Despite repeated attempts, CDP never returned our request for a comment on this article and their policy of shaved bats.
They might be interested to know that 1 out of 3 shaved bats in the nation are used at CDP. They might be single handedly keeping the bat shaving industry alive! What a terrible slogan to passively accept. The vast majority of those who use them there think they can because CDP doesn’t make it clear if they do or don’t and they aren’t willing to ask. In fact, the majority of those who use shaved bats at CDP think its actually illegal to do so.
(For the record, we don’t think they are used as widely as some claim at CDP. But no doubt, they are used more there than anywhere else).
Concerning CDP’s dominance when it comes to shaved bat usage, consider this.
If you dive down into those who admitted to using them at CDP, you find the confusion is deep.
We aren’t sure why CDP, the leading place for shaved baseball bats in the world, is so hesitant to clear up confusion about their bat policy. Maybe they aren’t aware they are the single leading location for illegal activity in youth baseball?
The excuse that it is impossible to enforce (although it isn’t) is independent of your ability to make sure people know what they are doing is actually illegal.
And in all seriousness, at what point does an attorney out there whose son gets hurt at CDP, make a case for negligence? It wouldn’t take more than 5 minutes and their website’s login to clear it up. CDP, if you read this as we really hope you do, feel free to copy and paste hits on your website:
Cooperstown Dream Park allows all USSSA, USA, BBCOR or BESR certified bats of any size. However, softball bats of any type, wood bats of any type and modified bats (including shaved bats) are illegal.
Boom. Done. We just saved your liability insurance about 4 million dollars.
There’s more blame to go around.
Where are the manufacturers in all of this?
For starters, why don’t household names in the bat industry put pressure on these tourneys where shaving runs wild to make their rule clear? Maybe these tournaments don’t care what the industry leaders think. We find that hard to believe. Our guess is they would respond to a nice phone call from a corporate executive on the matter and very quickly update their website.
If a manufacturer believes a rather large organization is encouraging, maybe even explicitly but for sure at least passively, the illegal use of their product why on earth aren’t they making it clear that such an approach is unacceptable. Is it grounds for a law suit? Is encouraging the illegal modification of a company’s trademarked product worthy of a lawsuit? We aren’t attorney’s but it doesn’t feel like we need a law degree to answer that question.
In fairness, maybe manufacturers are putting pressure. We wouldn’t know. The only thing we know is that 40% of the shaved bats in the youth baseball space are used at the same national tournament. We don’t think that news, to anyone who has played there, is revelatory.
Further, manufacturers, why not produce a bat that can’t be shaved? We can fill one with helium, shave a barrel’s thickness to a fraction of a millimeter on thousands of units and redesign the end cap every 16 months to something claimed as better. But, for almost $500, we can’t figure a way to make a barrel end that is unusable once its end cap is taken off?
Forgive us for sounding bewildered. But, just so we’re clear, the plan to stop the spread of illegally shaved bats is to appeal to the reason and virtue of us dads who just spent $450 on a baseball bat that’s lucky to last 6 months? You can’t expect us to only be irrational when it comes to legitimate bat sales.
With respect, we do know that major bat companies ACTIVELY look for ways to crimp down bat shaving. These are often public companies with generations of brand awareness to maintain. It just isn’t true that they look the other way for the shaving industry to help move product. Manufacturers may also know what we learned from our survey: bat shaving is a ridiculously small fraction of the market done by no more than 1 kid on 50+ teams. So, it doesn’t make sense to expend resources on a practice that is virtually non existent.
That’s not unreasonable.
Check it. The next bat certification in the name of safety, errr, integrity, requires bats have end caps that cannot be manipulated.
Let’s call it the 2028 certification of: BatDigest | 5.0.
You’re welcome manufacturers. We just made you another 600 million.
Far and away the answer is USSSA. USA bats, we should note, are not as common as USSSA, so that probably skews the number on a per capita basis, if you will. But, of the shaved bats on the market, almost 80% are USSSA.
No other article on our site generates more hate mail than this one. It is a very popular article because, frankly, a lot of people are trying to cheat. We’ve been told to ‘keep our mouth shut’ and ‘delete this article’ and ‘its comical because we don’t know what we are talking about’.
In large measure, the hate mail comes from companies or dads that have made small fortunes shaving bats. Although, granted, they leave their comment anonymously. But, who else would defend an illegal practice and wish we were not on the top of Google rankings for a number of phrases, including shaved bats?
We get at least a comment a month by some bat shaving hoser trying to get a link in their signature in the comments. We delete everyone of them.
Because we say this without apology:
Shaving your youth baseball or fastpitch bat is a terrible idea that among other things, puts children at risk. This is to say nothing of the fact it is literally against the law.
But really, we aren’t trying to hate.
The truth is, people want honest information about shaved bats. We don’t sell shaved bats, we don’t manufacturer or sell bats. We don’t even have a single affiliate link on this article.
We just want parents to make an informed decision about the often shady practice of manipulating bats.
We aren’t the morality police—although in this regard maybe we should be. In the end, it’s your dollar, it’s your liability, it’s your conscience. Those willing to cheat aren’t going to be swayed by us telling them it’s cheating—they already know that.
But, there are also a considerable number of folks trying to figure out what this bat shaving is all about. If you are trying to see if there is a loophole or allowance in the regulations to shave your bat, then we’re here to tell you there is not. It is illegal in every way we can imagine.
According to some, there are derby’s, exhibitions and showcases that allow shaved bats. We’ve yet to see these allowances made explicitly on any website or in writing. Instead, it is ‘word of mouth’ or a ‘they don’t care’ kind of policy that’s whispered to oneself. Frankly, we highly doubt most of these claims. At best, these tournaments look the other way. In most cases, it is a lack of the ability to police a bat policy that leads to people quietly shaving their bat and, turns out, telling no one.
If you found this write up on shaved bats, then it’s likely you know how to use the internet. We’d rather not link to any specific site as it might be seen as the endorsement of a policy we frankly don’t endorse.
Using a shaved bat anywhere that it is not allowed is flat out cheating and dangerous. We condemn it in the strongest language we can. If you are playing in a baseball league that you think allows any type of bat, then SAVE yourself some money and buy a fastpitch bat instead.
Like, real far.
Although several factors determine how much farther you’d hit a ball with a shaved bat (see below), it is fair to say that an average of 30 to 50 additional feet is a reasonable expectation. Of course, we are talking about a well hit ball at a good launch angle, too.