Do you remember the words from the age-old song, “take me out to the baseball game?” Well, baseball has long been America’s favorite sport. Thanks to globalization, it’s quickly becoming a global pastime.
But if you play baseball, you know that the bat you use can make the difference between winning and losing the game. That may make you wonder, “What is the difference between an aluminum and a composite bat?” – an age old question.
What is a Composite bat?
Designed using Reinforced carbon fiber polymer, fiberglass and graphite, this composite bat is said to be a high-performance bat with the benefits of imparting the best trampoline effect, durability, dampening rate, etc. Ever since the 1980s, these bats found their use in slow pitch baseball. Now they are extensively used everywhere owing to their high-end performance. The performance differs due to their lightweight body and extra-controlled swing that paves a way to a more convenient hit.
These bats provide wood bat like performance and strength like alloy. Additionally, they provides better pop.
What is an Aluminum bat?
Popularly known as the Alloy bats, these aluminum bats have held their spot in the market for the past 40 years. The NCAA legalized use of aluminum bats in 1974. These bats are perfect for all those with a tight budget but want a decent performance in the game. However, it is generally recommended to buy the highest-priced bat as it is equipped with premium-quality alloys for the ultimate durability and excellent material qualities. They don’t require any breaking-in period – they’re just hot out of the wrapper.
Well, people wanted to ban aluminum bats after lots of injuries happened. That’s why, all aluminum bats has to be BBCOR certified to legally use in a game. You can check out the best BBCOR bats for 2021.
Composite Bats vs Aluminum Bats
Below, we have described the important differences between these two bats.
Swing weight is a crucial term when discussing bat weight. Composite bats have lower swing weight than alloy bats. This means composite bats are quite lighter than aluminum ones and allow you to have more control when you’re hitting the ball. In short, composite bats are more balanced and distributes their masses evenly in the barrel that the alloy bats.
But why it’s more balanced?
Because, composite bats have lower moment of inertia and the center of the mass is closer to the handle.
Though not 100% related, but, this chart from batsdigest gives a clear indication that balanced bats tends to have lower swing weight.
Owing to the high-end design of the Composite bats, they come with an expensive price tag than the aluminum bats. If you have a moderate budget, you may go for a supreme-quality aluminum bat. Once you learn the sport well, buying a costly composite bat will not be required as you can easily swing the bat right using reasonably-priced aluminum bats as well.
Composite bats are said to have less stinging vibrations, especially the bats that come with a two-piece design. They have high dampening rates due to which when the baseball contacts the bat, the composite bat handle avoids shocks. Also, the bat can have higher control and deflect most of the vibrations in an effortless manner.
Well, vibration in a bat increases when you start hitting a ball away from the bat sweet spot. As most of the aluminum bats are end-loaded, they tends to have higher vibration.
That’s why many alunimum bat handles have thick layers of rubber that adds damping to the handle. Moreover, player using aluminum bats wear thick batting gloves to minimize the sting sensation.
Aluminum bats are well-regarded for their excellent durability over time. They are known for their amazing shelf-life of at least 2 years, even if they are used rigorously. However, composite bats, on the other hand, are not that durable and get damaged moderately. Their life is less than an aluminum bat, and get cosmetic flaws even if they are not used regularly.
Composite bats are prone to cracking damage during the cold weather compared to aluminum bats.
Not to forget, the durability also depends on the brand and quality of the construction. A quality composite bat is more durable than a cheaper alloy bat.
Composite bats tend to have bigger barrels than aluminum bats. But a bat with a bigger barrel does not always give you an advantage in the baseball stadium. In general, bats with bigger barrels tend to be heavier, and that’s why you might feel it harder to swing. You will also have to hit the ball with a greater force. Aluminum bats tend to be lighter. They are easier to handle and swing the ball with, so many players prefer to use aluminum bats.
Being Anisotropic, composite bats have the added benefit of making adjustments to the barrel as per need so that the resultant bat displays the perfect performance. Although single-walled aluminum bats lack this ability badly, manufacturers try to incorporate a fine-tuned trampoline effect in the double-walled bats.
Why composite bats have higher trampoline effect than aluminum bats?
Because, it’s the softer barrel of composite bats that helps the ball to lose less energy during collision compared to the aluminum bats – which are stiffer.
Composite bats have lower bending stiffness, which automatically makes the bat easy to swing without affecting the performance in any way. However, Aluminum bats have a higher bending stiffness making it a little bit harder to perform swift action.
Composite bats tend to have a bigger sweet spot compared to aluminum bats. If you are an amateur baseball player, you will love the composite bat because you can often hit the ball on one of the diamonds with the first shot.
Aluminum bats tend to be highly prone to denting and always get dents over time. Sometimes, the baseball hits at certain angles that are bad for the bat and puts a dent at the point of contact. At other times, the bats themselves have less strength and lead to bends. Composite bats do not get such dents as often as aluminum bats.
Break-In Time Required
Where Composite bats always need a break-in time of at least 150 to 200 swings to come to its peak performance, an aluminum bat comes in full form the moment it is taken out of the box. As a result, composite bat’s pop increased over time where as aluminum bat’s pop decreases over time.
Which bat do baseball players prefer to use and why?
Baseball bats, be it composite or aluminum, have a distinct sound that distinguishes among both of them. The composite bats make a larger ‘popping’ noise when they hit the baseball. However, the aluminum bats swing with a big ‘ping’ sound having a single frequency. Thus, for players switching from aluminum to composite may take time to get used to of its new sound.
When baseball bat manufacturers began to make aluminum bats, they were just more durable and lighter but sturdier than the composite bats. Moreover, aluminum bats last longer, so you aren’t forced to spend a small fortune on expensive bats. This is one reason why you are just learning how to play baseball and use them. You will find it easy to hit the ball the first time around. Also, aluminum bats don’t break and splinter easily after extensive usage as composite bats do. Therefore, aluminum bats are safer for you in the long-term.
TL:DR – Aluminum bats are for power hitters and Composite bats are for contact hitters
Interestingly enough, you would like to use composite bats if you are a novice. The reason why may surprise you. The bats are a hybrid of metal, carbon, and wood. This makes them denser. You will be able to hit the ball at faster speeds. The chances of scoring a goal will increase dramatically. You will also have a much lighter rebound force when swung, and you will have an easier time controlling both the bat and the angle and speed at which you hit the ball.
Thus, if you are one of those little league, high school or college youth players, you will probably prefer to use composite bats. It is because you learn to master the sport well to gain optimum performance. When you reach college, you become a pro; then, you can change your bat from composite to aluminum. It is because, at that time, it will all be about your best swings, not about practicing!
Composite bats are clearly better
As is evident, the composite bat is better. They are sturdier and will help you hit the ball better. This is important if you are a professional baseball player because it will maintain your good reputation. It will also help you continue to earn handsomely. You can use the composite bat if you are just starting because you’ll have an easier time winning every game.