Growing up playing with aluminum bats, bat selection rarely entered my mind. I would survey the bats provided by the team at the start of the season, swing the select few that were in the proper size/weight category, and pick one that felt best. That would be my bat for the season.
Now, I play in a wood bat league and am responsible for selecting and purchasing my bats. The selection of wood bats out there is overwhelming. In addition to Louisville Slugger, Rawlings, and Mizuno there are hundreds of small bat companies all telling us why their wood is best and how their process is superior. Once you’ve picked your brand and wood type, you still have some work to do to select the model that fits you best.
Personally, I haven’t been able to figure it out. I’ve been playing in wood bat leagues for eight seasons and I still find myself uncertain about what bat I should be swinging. I am not brand loyal. I am most certainly not loyal to any bat model. All I do know is that I’m devastated when my bat breaks because not only does that mean I have to fork over another $40 for a bat but I need to begin the whole decision process again. For that isolated moment in time when I get jammed and break my bat, I feel like Roy Hobbs (and not in that game-winning homer kind of way).
Based on a recently conducted survey* among 102 amateur ballplayers, I may not be alone. 25% of players purchase multiple brands of bats. This statistic does not even address the number of players experimenting with various wood types and bat models.
Any advice from you wood ballplayers out there? How do I find a Wonderboy?
What does this mean for the wood bat industry? What strategies could some of the larger brands take to establish greater brand loyalty? Is this an opportunity for smaller brands to break through?
*The survey was conducted by the Grip N’ Rip Club to learn about baseball purchasing behaviors among amateur ballplayers.