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Wood, wood, wood……

11-19-2013 / By: X Bats

After more than five years of testing many kinds of woods for baseball and softball bats, we are adding some additional categories from which our customers can choose. We are adding Yellow Birch, a wood that fits between maple and ash for performance, feel and longevity. We found a hickory wood that makes what we feel is a “superbat”, harder and stronger than maple with better performance and more resistance to breakage. This can really change the playing field for wood bat performance and is unique to X Bats. After testing bamboo bats for years with mixed results, we have created a bamboo bat that lives up to the promise of durability that many players seek. Lastly, we have developed a composite bat that performs better than the composite choices on the market and it has all of the durable qualities players seek in a composite wood bat without sacrificing all the performance.

Many bat companies tout the wood they want to promote, which is why you see claims of birch outperforming maple, bamboo outperforming maple, etc. We believe that each wood has its benefits and liabilities. This is why we believe there needs to be different choices for each player. We base our characteristics for each wood on scientific testing of durability, wood density, hardness indexes and performance both in the laboratory and real world on-the-field testing.

Our players are asking, “Which wood is right for me?”




The difference between woods for baseball bats

Every player is an individual with his own likes and dislikes, his own style. A player knows what works for him and what feels just right. The baseball bat is the single tool in all of sports that has the greatest impact on a player’s performance.

For too long, players have been at the mercy of mass merchandisers and metal bat companies that offer products that suit their business models and not the player. You can find wood bat companies everywhere trying to tell everyone that wood is wood. Wood is a natural material that comes in different genus and species and each has an application for wood baseball bats. The big question is which one is right for me?

Most players today grew up using aluminum bats. These bats are made for the consumer from Model T era. Henry Ford once said that you could have your Model T in any color so long as it was black. Metal bat makers say you can have your bat in 32”, 33” and 34” and one (really!!!????) and only one shape. They ALL make the same shape. Some choice. And players have accepted it for decades now.

We no longer live in a one-size-fits-all world. Every individual wants to have his world fit him. Companies like X Bats evolved to satisfy the needs of that special individual who did not want to use what the market threw at him. From the beginning, we aimed to satisfy that unique player who wants a bat that suits his needs and style.

  • We make more bat models (shapes) than any other company.
  • We make full and half sizes.
  • We allow players to choose the weight of their bat down to .5 ounce.
  • We allow players to build a bat that has the right balance point for their swing, body, size and game.
  • We have a choice of over 300,000 color combinations.
  • We will put your name on your bat.
  • We will put your signature on your bat.
  • We’ll even put the flag of your country on your bat.
  • We make the bat that you’d build for yourself if you had a forest, a mill, a kiln, a woodworking shop, a laser engraving machine and had a buddy who made fine furniture who could finish it off and make it look like a jewelry chest

We have been fitting hundreds of thousands of baseball players since the end of the twentieth century

Baseball is one of the easiest games to take up (how many 5 year olds play baseball every year?) but hitting a baseball is said to be the most difficult feat in all of sports. Players work very hard on their game to become the best player they can be. It takes this kind of passion to play the game the right way and have any success at it. This takes a lot of time, a lot of practice, a lot of failure and great deal of personal commitment to persevere at the game. And they expect you to pick up an off-the-shelf, one-size-fits-all bat???? Really?

We’ll help you find the bat that helps you perform your best. We’ll build it the way you want it and we’ll offer you a choice of hardwoods to fine tune your hitting. When you pull your bat out of your bag, everyone will know you are serious about your game and a force to be reckoned with.

We want you to bring the pride you have in yourself, in your game, in your performance to your equipment.

Once you swing your first X Bat, you’ll never look anywhere else for YOUR bat again.

X Bats now offers our signature models in hickory, maple, birch, ash and bamboo as well as a line of composite bats. We have the right wood for your game- whether you are a Major Leaguer, a collegiate player, an up and coming young prospect, a serious high school athlete, a young player who is developing a love for the game or an adult who plays as long as he can because it’s what he loves to do. We don’t make bats for everyone, but if you are a baseball zealot who can’t get enough of the game, we are the company to fit you and outfit you for the battle on the field.

The first thing to decide is what wood is right for you -

  • Hickory
  • Maple
  • Birch
  • Ash
  • Bamboo
  • Composite



Hickory -

superior performance, heaviest most dense hardwood, bats have to be -1 or heavier, limited models, difficult to break, top of the line

Hickory is the platinum standard for bats. Few companies offer hickory because only 10% of hickory will make top quality bats. Due to the waste and labor involved, these bats are very pricey. It’s a difficult wood to work with and most just don’t want to go the extra mile it takes to make a hickory bat.

Hickory was the wood of choice when pitchers threw slower and bats were more balanced. As the shapes of bats evolved and modern players, raised with aluminum bats, required lighter and lighter bats; the big barrel, thin handled end loaded bat shape became unsuited for heavy dense hardwoods like hickory.

X Bats has been searching for the right hickory wood to make modern bats for almost 10 years. We’ve tried everything but either the grain wasn’t right or the wood was just too heavy. We have finally found a solution for players who are used to nothing but the best. We go through a lot of wood and a lot of labor in order to cherry pick a handful of billets that will make the grade.

These bats are like hitting with iron. The ball absolutely jumps off the bat like no wood we’ve ever seen or tested. We can’t make every shape and we can’t make them light, but for the right player who enjoys the jog around to home plate, there is no finer wood bat in the world today. Try just one and you’ll be hooked for life.





Maple -

great performance, very stiff wood, good longevity if made in -2 or heavier (light maple is weak maple), outlasts ash 3-1, when we refer to maple, we refer to hard or sugar maple and not the soft maple that many companies use

X Bats is the place to go for the best maple bats in the world. We made our name on maple. We have produced more maple bats in the past 10 years than any other bat company and the 300+ Major League players who make their living with our bats is testament to our performance and longevity of our hard maple pro bats. Players say our wood is just harder and the ball jumps faster and further than any other bats anywhere.

Our proprietary technique for preparing our logs, drying them, producing our billets and making our bats is very exacting, labor intensive and time consuming. We are still the ONLY bat company that makes a single grade of wood for every customer from the 300+ Major Leaguers to the men’s league Sunday player to the Little Leaguer whose dreams of baseball play in his head every night when he goes to sleep

Maple is a very hard, heavy dense and stiff wood. It is at its optimal strength at a moisture content of 10-12%. The problem with maple is that at 10-12% moisture content, only 10% of the billets produced will make top quality pro bats. So to increase yield, it is dried more and more and more until it is very dry. Although the over dried maple is lighter, it becomes very susceptible to breakage due to the inherent stiffness of the wood. We dry our maple to a moisture content of 8-10% and get no more than a 55% yield. The wood that doesn’t make the grade is not sold to our customers, it is sold to furniture manufacturers. Other companies use that wood to make bats to increase their yield and profitability and save their prime wood for pro bats. Every bat we make is a pro bat so none of X Bats customers will ever receive this reject wood.

The result is a bat that has great performance, lasts longer than most other bats out there and continues to perform game after game like they did the first swing.

If you are a serious player who wants the best equipment to help succeed, an X Bats hard maple bat may be the right bat for you.




Birch -

excellent performance, more flexible than maple, good longevity in -2 or heavier, light birch lasts longer than light maple due to its flexibility

Players like the performance qualities of top maple bats. Some players like the flexibility they get from ash bats. Birch is a hard wood that falls between maple and ash in hardness and density and that translates into more exit velocity and longevity than ash bats. Its flexibility allows players more feel than maple bats. It’s really a fine line between what gives a player a level of comfort with his bat.




Ash -

good performance, most flexible, stronger in lighter weights than other hard woods, breaks with handle or end hits, grain flakes with excessive use

Ash became the wood of choice in the modern era. When the bat shapes of the day resulted in well balanced bats, a player could swing a heavy piece of wood and get great performance and longevity from hickory, maple, elm, oak, etc. Pitchers didn’t throw as hard as today. Players had more time to “see” the ball. Thicker handles and thinner barrels allowed heavier bats and the use of heavier woods because of the great balance these bats had.

Then along came the metal bat. Huge barrel, skinny, skinny handle. One shape for everyone. One-size-fits-all. Weight all in the handle (in the hands) with a hollow barrel so everyone’s sister can swing one. Companies got rich ruining generations of baseball players. The problem was when player had to switch to wood bats. Trying to make a big barrel wood bat with a very thin handle light enough to swing has challenged baseball bat makers for the last 30 years. Bottom line is it simply cannot be done. The lightest wood that maintained it’s structural integrity when hitting a 90mph+ object was ash. So ash became the wood of choice for baseball players in the modern metal bat era.

Despite advances in wood technology and drying technology that opened the door 10 years ago making woods besides ash suitable for pro bats, ash has its following. It is a very flexible wood and some players like the feel. It does not perform as well as birch or maple or hickory and it breaks far more easily than the harder woods, but players who swing ash do so because of the responsiveness they get from this softer wood.




Bamboo Composite -

great longevity, performs like ash, more pop than wood composite bats

Bamboo bats are actually not made of solid bamboo like hickory, maple, birch and ash bats; they are a laminated matrix of small blocks of bamboo (picture a parquet wood floor). The difficulty in making a quality bamboo bat is getting the weight light enough without compromising strength and durability.

The test results with our bamboo bats have been very mixed over the years, which is why we have waited so long to offer bamboo to our customers. We feel that bamboo is an option to compare with composite wood bats more than solid wood bats. Bamboo performance is somewhere between ash and birch. Our bamboo bats are very difficult to break which is why every X Bat bamboo bat comes with a 101 day warranty at no additional charge. Durability is the main reason why players choose bamboo over the other solid wood bats. Because of their laminate structure and the inherent strength of bamboo, they are very stiff bats. They differ from other composite bats in that they have much better pop.

The bamboo bat is a feat of technology suited to players who want a bat that is hard to break yet performs at the level of solid wood bats.




Bottom Line

We want players to make a choice for their bat based on personal fit and preference and not price alone. Our bats are priced according to what it costs to make a billet for a Major League quality bat. The harder the wood, the better the performance. The tradeoff is weight. It takes a harder, denser wood to give the best performance. Hard, dense woods are heavy by nature so less wood is suitable to make pro bats with specific weight requirements. The more billets that are wasted due to weight, the higher the effective cost of the bat. Our best yield is on ash, so it’s priced more affordably. Our worst yield is on hickory and it’s priced the highest. Price alone is not the right reason to choose a particular wood. We offer different woods so we can fit each player’s style of hitting, size, weight, age, etc. to the right wood in the right model in the right size for that player.

We are happy to offer you a personal sizing for your bat model, length, weight and wood type. You can e-mail us or call us and we’ll do our best to help fit you for the bat that fits your game.


 

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