Updated: May 2, 2023

Why do MLB Players use Wooded Bats

Curious about why MLB players use wooden bats? Let’s explore the reasons.

In short, the reason the MLB uses wood bats is because they are required to use them. MLB regulations mandate wooden bats. It’s even more specific than that. These wood bats must certain criteria, such as hardness, diameter, and grain straightness, to be legal for play. The manufacturer must also be an approved MLB bat provider.

But why does the MLB mandate wooden bats rather than allowing composite or alloy alternatives?

There are two primary reasons: performance and tradition.

Performance Concerns

Although non-wooden bats can be engineered to have the same ‘pop’ as wooden bats, (see BBCOR below) their construction allows for longer sweet spots and manipulated swing weights, providing significant advantages to hitters.

Is safety a concern with composite or metal bats, as they could potentially hit the ball harder?

No. Or at least it shouldn’t be. Metal and composite bats can be designed to match the ‘pop’ of wooden bats, as demonstrated by the NCAA and NFHS through the BBCOR standard. But, because of the nature of the material, these bats are designed to perform at peak levels more consistently. The notion that these bats are a safety concern stems from a misunderstanding of this concept.

In terms of safety, and noting that broken wooden bats flying into the stands pose a safety risk, composite and metal bats are likely more safe.

Would overall performance increase if MLB switched to metal or composite bats?

In our view, batting records would be shattered, not because of greater ‘pop,’ but due to more consistent performance. Metal and composite bats can have lower weights and longer sweet spots, potentially allowing for more consistent high-end results.

If non-wooden bats were allowed, most MLB players would likely switch for better performance. Take the NCAA as an example. Though wooden bats are legal (they automatically pass the BBCOR test), serious D1 players rarely use them, opting for metal or composite bats. These bats offer more consistent potential for maximum pop, though at peak power, both wood and nonwood bats can have the same pop.

Tradition

While it’s difficult to quantify, tradition undoubtedly plays a considerable role. Wooden bats are as iconic to MLB as leather gloves and hot dogs. Indeed, even if metal and composite bats were designed with the same sweet spots as wooden ones, it’s hard to imagine MLB abandoning tradition anytime soon.

So, there you have it. The reason MLB players are required to use wood bats is because they are required to. And they’re mandated to because of tradition and that the length of the sweet spot and manipulation of swing weight in nonwood bats would fundamentally change the game.

In other words, we don’t see it happening. Ever.