If you don’t know anything about baseball bats, you should know that they come in a variety of materials, especially when it comes to the wooden ones. Since so many bats, including the ones used by professionals, are made out of either maple or ash, people often wonder which of these two kinds of wood should be used in a game. The best answer is that different bats are good for different players, so it depends on the players themselves.
What Is the Main Difference between Maple & Ash Bats?
When it comes to maple vs. ash baseball bats, there are a few major differences between the two types. First of all, maple bats are much stronger and denser, and they have very little “give.” On the other hand, bats made out of ash are not quite as thick and offer at least some flexibility.
More pros use maple bats, which are typically the rock maple type because it is stronger all the way around and provides the most “pops” that allow for the biggest hits.
Maple bats allow for the best inside pitch protection and are easy to engrave because the grain is less visible on the bat. Ash bats, on the other hand, which are usually the Northern white ash type, have very visible grains and allow batters to swing much faster, which is likely because it is a lighter bat. Ash bats are especially advantageous for vintage league players and barrel-end miss-hitters.
let’s take a deep look inside each type, looking for advantages and disadvantages of each type and which one is suitable for you.
If you go to a live baseball game, one of the things you likely look forward to is the loud “pop” sound every time the batter hits the ball, and this sound is much louder and more noticeable with a bat made out of wood.
Not just any wood will do because maple makes the greatest sound of all. Why? Mostly because it has a closed grain structure, which ensures an unmatched strength and durability and a much stiffer feel in your hands. This is why more than 70% of all Major League Baseball players use bats made out of maple wood. These bats are second to none when it comes to quality and reliability.
Again, maple doesn’t have the “give” that ash does because it is harder and denser than ash, but most players find they get used to it fairly quickly and hardly notice it afterward.
Both maple and ash bats can break if hit hard enough, but the manufacturers of maple bats discovered in a 2008 study that they were breaking because they were being hit on top of their wood grains, as opposed to being hit “with” the grains, which is what happens with an ash bat.
Because of this, the manufacturers change the location of their label and include an ink mark that runs depending on the quality of the wood used to make the bat.
Even though you should still play with the label pointed either up or down at contact, this seems to have taken care of the problem and resulted in less breakage overall. In fact, every maple bat made since 2009 has to meet these requirements or they cannot be sold to the public, so you can feel safe purchasing a maple bat.
Does this mean that maple bats are guaranteed never to break or shatter when you hit a ball with it? Of course not, that is always a possibility, but not only is the bat much less likely to break now that it is made differently, it is also much less likely to shatter when it does. The shattering of the bat was occasionally causing injuries to the players, which is why the manufacturers of maple bats were working so hard to take care of this problem.
The Main Advantages of Maple Bats
Maple bats also tend to last forever, except on the occasion when they break, but again, this happens a lot less frequently now than it used to. The density and firmness of the bat also tend to make the ball travel farther, which is always a good thing.
In addition to all of this, because maple bats have dense wood grains, they have what many people call a “trophy shine,” so the bats are aesthetically appealing as well as have a second-to-none sturdiness and reliability.
Of course, maple bats haven’t always been on the scene. For many years, logging companies could not successfully make maple billets, which are the round dial blanks that are used to make baseball bats.
One of the reasons for this was because of the vacuum drying and milling process that was necessary to make the bat light enough to use without sacrificing any of the hardness necessary to keep it study and hard.
Nowadays, the process is somewhat modified and they can more easily make a high-quality maple baseball bat that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, as well as one that is less likely to break and shatter.
If you’re wondering how many professional baseball players have used high-quality maple bats, here are a few whose names should be familiar to you: former NL MVPs Christian Yelich and Cody Bellinger; and slugging young outfielders Ronald Acuna Jr. and Eloy Jimenez.
Pros and Cons of Maple Bats
Finally, maple bats can be a little more expensive than ash bats, but most players find they are worth the extra money because of all of their extraordinary features and benefits. Here are some of the pros and cons of a maple bat:
- The hardest type of bat.
- Makes an impressive loud “pop” sound when hit.
- Has a very attractive, smooth look.
- Easier to engrave and therefore the logos on the bat are eye-catching.
- It can sting your hands when you miss-hit.
- It has the smallest “sweet spot” – usually one to two inches smaller than other types of bats.
If you are looking for a Maple bat here is my recommendation for the best Maple bat.
(Recommended Maple Bat) Mizuno Maple Elite Maple Baseball Bat
This is a rock-hard maple baseball bat that comes in sizes ranging from 30 to 33 inches. The wood used in the bats is hand-selected and therefore of the highest quality, and the bigger barrel is just one of the things that makes this a better bat than other types. Mizuno Maple Bat even has a cupped end to provide you with a lighter swing weight, and it starts at around $63, making it affordable as well as high in quality.
The Mizuno maple bat is great for players with all skill levels, and it is BBCOR-certified to give you the peace of mind you deserve. This is a strong, reliable bat in an attractive black color, and it is perfect for both men and women, adults and children alike, making it a very versatile bat indeed. With this bat, you can count on using it for a very long time, making it worth every penny you spend on it.
If you’re wondering why it has a 4-star rating on sites such as Amazon and others, consider what their many customers have said about these bats. They love that even picky players who have played for years and with all types of bats love this bat. They also love the pop and the nice finish that keeps the bat attractive.
Indeed, one of the biggest advantages of the reputable Mizuno line of baseball bats is that they tend to perform just as well as other brands that are a lot more expensive. This is particularly important for people on a budget, and it just feels good to know you can get a bat that does great on the field without breaking the bank.
In short – people love this bat!
- Very dense, heavy-duty bat.
- Very reasonably priced and affordable for everyone.
- An aesthetically appealing bat.
- There is no warranty included.
- Some users claim it broke after short-term use.
You can check it on Amazon!
Traditional bats made out of ash are normally made out of a Northern white ash, which is harvested frequently in parts of northern Pennsylvania, New York, and parts of Canada.
Although it flakes sooner than either maple or even birch, ash bats have larger sweet spots, which is one thing that many players love about them. Ash wood is light but still very strong, and it’s been a favorite of tons of baseball players throughout the years.
One of the main differences between maple and ash is that while maple is very firm and doesn’t have a lot of “give,” ash is a lot more flexible and therefore more comfortable to many players. The wood is ring-porous and has grains that are very easy to see, and this is one of the things that gives it a “traditional” look that so many people love.
Although not as hard as maple, ash baseball bats still tend to provide a lot of “pop” along with their flexibility, and they tend to be a little more affordable as well when compared to maple.
While ash was second only to maple bats for a long time, birch bats are starting to inch toward that number-two spot. One of the reasons why is that a dangerous beetle started doing some damage to the ash trees grown in Pennsylvania, which is where a lot of the wood for these bats is grown. This happened in 2007 and resulted in the supply of ash bats being drastically reduced.
Today, roughly 10% of MLB players use ash bats, and while that number isn’t as high as the players using maple bats, it is still lower than it once was. If you’d like to learn which famous baseball players have used ash bats, consider these stats:
- Babe Ruth hit all of his home runs using an ash bat.
- Both Ty Cobb and Pete Rose used ash bats to get more than 4,000 base hits.
- Hank Aaron broke Babe Ruth’s record using an ash bat.
- Joe DiMaggio hit in 56 games in a row with his ash bat.
- Mark McGuire used an ash bat to complete his 70 home runs.
- Ted Williams used an ash bat to hit .406.
Other Aspects of an Ash Bat
An ash bat also tends to have a much larger sweet spot than maple, which is what a lot of batters like about it. Let’s say you’re a contact hitter. With an ash bat, your chances of hitting a line drive will drastically increase.
Some people think that because of ash’s flexibility, the ball goes farther when you hit it, but other experts say the same thing about maple, so essentially it is just a matter of who is hitting the ball at the time.
It took roughly 150 years for the ash bat of today to be manufactured the way it currently is. This is because to make an ash bat, you have to use the right grades of wood, trees with the right number of growth rings, and the right amount of control over both the moisture content and drying times for the wood.
For most players, roughly eight growth rings per inch in a Northern white ash bat seem to be what works best, although there are some ash bats with 15 growth rings per inch. This is because as a general rule, the more growth rings in the wood, the stronger and denser the wood is.
When it comes to breakage, the location that the breaks occur is different on ash bats than it is on maple bats. Ash bats usually break on the inside pitches, while maple bats tend to break on the outside pitches.
If you’re trying to decide between a maple bat and an ash bat, you might want to consider how often you break or splinter the bat when you play. Also, if an ash bat starts to flake as you’re using it for practice or in a game, that’s a sign that the bat is nearing the end of its lifespan.
Pros and Cons of Ash Bats
Just like maple bats, ash bats have their pros and cons. Here are a few of them for you to consider.
- Has the longest “sweet spot.”
- Attractive flame finish that is quite a classic look.
- The flexibility allows for great control over where you hit the ball.
- Offers better speed to fight off fast balls.
- Because it is more flexible, it can break in certain scenarios.
- If hit on the wrong side of the engraving, ash bats can flake apart.
Let’s take a look at an example of a maple baseball bat and a bat made out of ash. We’ll take a more detailed look at each of them to give you an idea of their similarities and differences.
(Recommended Ash Bat) Louisville Slugger 2020 MLB Prime Wood Bat Series (Ash)
Available in 31-inch and 32-inch lengths, this ash bat is very eye-catching with a flash design on it and a color of electric blue and black. It has the MLB ink dot on it and very balanced swing weight to it. It is also bone-rubbed to get rid of pores and make for a smoother, harder bat overall, and it has seamless decals that look great and give the bat just the right look. In other words, this bat is both functional and very attractive, making it the perfect ash bat for everyone.
In addition to all of this, the bat has a cupped end and a finish that is stronger than most finishes, giving it both a professional look and a much harder feel. The Louisville Slugger logo tells you that the bat is reliable and strong, and it comes with a 30-day limited warranty to give you the peace of mind you deserve. It also has an easy-to-read knob medallion embedded in the knob, and the production date is engraved right on the bat.
Customers love the sound the bat makes when you hit the ball, the excellent balance, its lightweight design, and how “natural” it feels in your hands. This is why it is rated 4.7 stars out of 5 stars on sites such as Amazon, and the fact that the bat starts at around $140 doesn’t hurt, either. Regardless of what you’re looking for in a high-quality ash baseball bat, this one is guaranteed to never disappoint.
- Lightweight at roughly 2 pounds.
- High-quality ash with a super-strong finish.
- Seamless decals give it a fancy, aesthetically appealing look.
- A little pricy starting at around $140.
- Some complaints that the bat is too heavy.
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So, if you’re unsure about whether to buy a maple or ash baseball bat, consider the strength of the wood and where your weaknesses lie when you’re up to bat. Although many pros play with maple bats, that doesn’t mean that you as an amateur should avoid these types of bats. In the end, one of the most important aspects is how much confidence the bat gives you when it’s in your hands and you’re ready to bat.
After reviewing the pros and cons of each type of bat, you should be able to come up with the right one to use.