Let your bat make you the best hitter you can be
08-29-2017 / By:
I had always thought that any bat I swung would be as good as any other. As I moved from metal to wood bats, I had to adapt my swing and stance and grip and timing, so I became accustomed to adjusting what I did to suit a given bat. There were, of course, bats that I liked more than others, but I couldn’t really tell if my liking a bat honestly translated into better hitting – because I always felt that I could (in fact, any good hitter could) change his swing to fit the bat. Just the way that every hitter must adjust to a pitcher and to a catcher and to an umpire and to a park and to the weather etc. etc. etc. – there are always things that make hitting difficult, things that make the hitter change what he would like to do so that he can make contact and do his job at the plate. As a hitter, I felt that my job was to nullify the strengths of my opposition and to take advantage of the weaknesses I could find. I always thought that hitting was me alone in the batter’s box without any help. Because of this solo attitude, I didn’t ever think of a bat as being able to help me – a bat was just one more obstacle to overcome. That was before I encountered XBats.
I had heard of them, of course. When more than 1000 guys in the big leagues have swung their lumber, it is impossible not to know them. I knew that guys like Manny Ramirez (one of my favorite hitters of all time) counted on them to bring their game to the level of league MVP, and still it didn’t occur to me that a bat could elevate my game. What I learned through starting to explore bats and and how they worked with my hitting style changed my game forever.
I always knew that different bats felt different, and I had a sense that the kind of wood mattered and that the thickness of the handle mattered, but that was really all I knew. As I read material on the XBats site, I learned that I could improve the kind of hitting I did based on the choices in specific bat parameters. I learned that the type of wood (maple, ash or birch) made a difference in the feel of the bat. Maple is a harder wood than ash is and it is stronger and lasts longer. Because maple is a harder wood, the ball compresses more and rebounds off the barrel more dramatically. But I like ash. I know (because I have learned from people who know this stuff at XBats – hey sometimes, the smartest thing you can do is find someone smarter than you and listen to what he has to say) that maple is a better wood for a bat, but I like the way ash feels. As I said earlier, I hadn’t known that I could like one bat more than another…but when the differences between the woods was explained to me, I could start to feel how one was different from another. To me, the ash felt somehow more compliant – like the ball stayed on the bat longer and gave me more control. Remember my favorite hitter, Manny Ramirez? Well, he had amazing power of course, but what amazed me about his hitting was that he seemed to be able to put the ball wherever he wanted. Some power guys are straight pull hitters, but he had power to all three fields and could take the pitch wherever it was and make solid contact. This is the kind of control that I wanted and that I feel like ash could give me. Of course, he swung an X Bat Model 24!
There are so many more factors that I now know make a bat right for me (and maybe wrong for other hitters) like knob size and end loading and grip thickness and bat weight and the relationship between bat length and bat weight. There are so many small differences that can help my swing that I never knew were out there. I can now choose different bats for different pitchers or different parks. Before, I thought that hitting was all about minimizing the advantages that the outside world had over me, but now, thanks to XBats, I think that the outside world has to adjust to me!