Best Wood Baseball Bats

Updated September 2020
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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Why trust BestReviews?
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and we never accept free products from manufacturers. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
How we decided

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

19 Models Considered
5 Hours Researched
1 Experts Interviewed
213 Consumers Consulted
Zero products received from manufacturers.

We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

Buying guide for best wood baseball bats

Last Updated September 2020

Wood baseball bats are a traditional type of bat. When you’re watching Major League Baseball, all players use a wood bat, per the rules of professional baseball, and they have for more than a century.

But for the majority of youth, high school, and college leagues, players use composite materials or aluminum bats. These bats are less expensive than wood bats and last longer, which makes them desirable for younger players.

Still, wood bats have their place in amateur baseball. Some teams will play special games or tournaments where wood bats are required. Some amateur leagues even use wood bats all of the time.

If you need a wood bat for these special occasions or for your particular league, multiple sizes and materials are available for batters of all heights and builds. It can be a lot to take in, but we’ve stepped up to the plate and put together the key information you need in order to choose the wood bat that’s right for you.

For the best results, strike the baseball with the “sweet spot” of a wood bat barrel, which starts about two inches from the far end of the bat and is about six inches long.

Key considerations

As with any baseball bat, it’s important to pick a wood baseball bat that’s appropriate for the age and size of the player who will be using it. Pick a bat that’s too heavy and long, and the player will not generate the proper bat speed. Pick a bat that’s too light and short, and you won’t generate the power you want.

Every player is a little different in skill level and strength. We’ve listed some specifications here to help you figure out the proper length of wooden bat as a starting point, based on the size of the player. You can then test a few different weights.

Height of less than 5 feet

  • Less than 90 pounds: 28- to 29-inch bat
  • 90 to 130 pounds: 29- to 30-inch bat
  • More than 130 pounds: 30- to 31-inch bat

Height of 5 feet to 5.5 feet

  • Less than 110 pounds: 30- to 31-inch bat
  • 110 to 150 pounds: 31- to 32-inch bat
  • More than 150 pounds: 32- to 33-inch bat

Height of 5.5 to 6 feet

  • Less than 130 pounds: 31- to 32.5-inch bat
  • 130 to 170 pounds: 32- to 33-inch bat
  • More than 170 pounds: 32.5- to 33.5-inch bat

Height of more than 6 feet

  • Less than 140 pounds: 32- to 33.5-inch bat
  • 140 to 180 pounds: 32.5- to 34-inch bat
  • More than 180 pounds: 33- to 34.5-inch bat

If you normally use a composite or aluminum bat, you should start with the same length and weight of wood bat.

DID YOU KNOW?

Prices of ash baseball bats may increase in the next few years, as the availability of ash trees decreases because of widespread insect destruction.

Features

Here are some important features to consider when shopping for a wood baseball bat.

Drop weight

As with a composite or aluminum bat, you’ll find a drop weight number stamped on the wood baseball bat. This number refers to the length (inches) subtracted from the weight (ounces). This often results in a negative number. A 32-inch, 29-ounce bat would have a minus-3 drop weight. The drop weight for a wood bat is usually minus-2 to minus-3 for an adult-size bat. Youth wood bats can have a drop weight as low as minus-8, although minus-4 or minus-5 bats are more common.

Materials

Wood bats are typically milled of maple, ash, or birch. Occasionally, you may find a bamboo wood bat or a composite wood bat, but these are often two-piece bats. Bats constructed of more than one piece of wood aren’t always allowed in league or tournament play.

Here are some positives and negatives for each of the three primary types of wood baseball bats.

  • Ash: Ash delivers a larger sweet spot than other bat materials. It avoids breaking when the player hits balls near the end of the bat. It is weaker than other bat materials if the ball is struck with the label or near the handle, though.
  • Maple: Maple wood is harder than both birch and ash, so it delivers a little more power when struck properly. It stands up to balls hit off the handle without breaking better than ash. However, it doesn’t have a high level of performance with balls off the end of the bat.
  • Birch: Birch has some of the benefits of both ash and maple. It’s harder than ash but not as hard as maple. It avoids breaking with balls struck near the handle better than ash but not as well as maple. It survives better on balls struck near the end than maple but not as well as ash.
DID YOU KNOW?

When a wood baseball bat breaks, it could shatter into multiple pieces and splinters, which can be dangerous for defensive players.

Wood baseball bat prices

Wood baseball bats are available in a wide range of price points. The least-expensive wood bats cost $20 to $40. These are aimed at young players, but they may not stand up to repeated use.

Mid-range wood bats cost $40 to $75. These are good for intermediate players who want to try wood bats for the first time. They’re not quite professional level, but they are adequate for game play for older children and adults. Fungo bats often fall into this price range.

A pro-level wooden baseball bat will cost anywhere from $75 to $250. These are the highest-quality wood bats, delivering longevity and power — as long as you use and care for them properly.

DID YOU KNOW?

Some manufacturers sell composite wood bats, which consist of two pieces. However, these bats aren’t legal for use in some wood bat leagues.

Tips

  • Avoid excessive moisture. Try to keep the bat as dry as possible, especially when it’s in storage. High humidity can cause problems for the bat over time. Store the bat indoors or in a temperature-controlled garage to avoid excessive moisture exposure.
  • Avoid extreme temperature variations. Don’t store the bat in an area where it will be exposed to direct sunlight or excessive heat. If possible, avoid taking batting practice when temperatures are extremely low.
  • Store the bat upright. Rather than placing the bat horizontally in a bag, store it vertically. Ideally, it will hang from the handle on a hook or frame, allowing air to flow around it.
  • Don’t place other items on top of the bat. If the bat is in a bag, keep your spikes away from it, so they don’t gouge the bat. Don’t lay heavy items on top of the bat, as this could weaken the bat over time.
  • Don’t bang it on the ground. Even though striking out is frustrating, don’t strike the bat on the ground in anger. Doing so can shorten a bat’s working lifetime.
  • Don’t overdo batting practice. To preserve the bat, limit the number of swings you take with it during batting practice. Only use it to hit actual baseballs. Also, don’t use your wood bat to hit the hard rubber balls from an automatic pitching machine. They will damage the bat.

Other products we considered

We expect the majority of people will find a great wood baseball bat among our highlighted favorites, but if you want more options, here are some that we considered.For an inexpensive wood bat aimed at young players, we like the Louisville Slugger Youth 125 Maple Bat.

If you like the idea of using a composite wood bat, one of the best performers is the DeMarini DI13 Pro Maple Wood Composite Bat, but it is expensive.

For an extremely hard maple bat that carries plenty of power at a reasonable price, the Mizuno Maple Elite MZM 243 Bat delivers.

If you prefer ash, we like the smartly priced Easton Pro 110 Ash Wood Baseball Bat.

If you want to use a wood bat during batting practice, consider purchasing a used wood baseball bat that matches the length and weight of the wood bat you want to use during games.

FAQ

Q. Do wood bats actually have a strong side?
A.
Yes. Look for the label of the bat, which is the manufacturer’s name or logo on the barrel. This label needs to either point upward or downward as you make contact with the ball. Having the bat in this position ensures you strike the ball with the strongest part of the wood grain in the bat. If you hit the ball with the label part of the bat, you risk breaking it.

Q. Why are the ends of some wood bats hollowed out?
A.
This is called cupping. A cupped bat will have a small area cut out of the end of the bat, usually 1.5 or 2 inches in diameter and a fraction of an inch deep. This slightly reduces the weight of the bat and moves the sweet spot up to an inch closer to the handle. Should you hit a ball near the end of a cupped wood bat, the bat will be susceptible to breaking, however. It’s a trade-off.

Q. Should I clean the bat regularly?
A.
Not necessarily. You’ll want to wipe off any dirt or moisture with a towel, but you don’t really need to clean the bat regularly. Some players carry a very fine sandpaper to lightly sand any areas where the seams of the ball leave a mark on the wood.

Q. Would switching to a wood bat help my child improve?
A.
A composite material or aluminum bat has a larger sweet spot than a wood bat. This means balls hit near the handle or near the end of the bat with an aluminum bat may result in a hit. A ball struck in a similar spot with a wood bat may break. Using wood bats on occasion can help players feel when they miss the sweet spot on the bat, which may help them develop a better swing path.

Other Products We Considered
The BestReviews editorial team researches hundreds of products based on consumer reviews, brand quality, and value. We then choose a shorter list for in-depth research and testing before finalizing our top picks. These are the products we considered that ultimately didn't make our top 5.
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The team that worked on this review
  • Ciera
    Ciera
    Digital Content Producer
  • Kyle
    Kyle
    Writer
  • Melinda
    Melinda
    Web Producer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Senior Editor

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