Since we became one of the pioneers in maple wood bats in the Major Leagues 20 years ago, we have always made it a priority to make the best quality bats for performance and longevity regardless of the costs. We have learned a lot from the professionals who make their living using our tools. We don’t presume to tell them what is the best bat for them, they tell us whether our bats are good or not. Few companies get the opportunity to develop their products at the highest levels of use.
To achieve this, we are very selective in what wood billets we use for our bats. We are vertically integrated throughout the entire process from the trees to the logs to the mill to the drying kilns to producing the billets that are turned on our CNC lathes. We control the process from logging to shipping the final product to our customers. We have found over the years that after all the quality checks at each step of the process, still only about 60% of all the billets we produce make the grade for a Major League bat. The other 40% are good enough for almost every other bat manufacturer but not for X Bats’ customers.
Maple is a very stiff wood compared to ash and birch as it is a much harder and denser wood. It is also heavier than less dense woods. Maple billets come in at over 30% moisture content before drying. The wood materials lab at the University of Rochester has determined that maple is at it’s peak strength at a moisture content of 10-12%. We dry our maple to 8% moisture content in order to get a reasonable yield of usable billets. Almost every other wood bat manufacturer dry their billets to 3-5% to increase their yield of usable billets (and profitability). The result is a lot of broken bats and lost opportunities. The combination of stiffer wood dried too much results in bats that are brittle and easily broken during play, thereby causing players to lose hits and replace bats.
To make the business viable, we had to choose between using the 40% of billets that don’t make the grade for pro bats for our other customers or to find a solution to use them or dispose of them. We decided soon after we started to make the same grade of bat for every customer- from the youth league player to the wood softball players. We utilize the 40% of billets that don’t pass muster to make trophy bats, mini-bats and some training bats. The remainder are sold back to the furniture manufacturing industry for use in chair and table legs and stair railing posts, etc. We are fortunate to be located in Jamestown, NY, the former furniture manufacturing center of the country before the bulk of the industry moved offshore in 2005. Each of our bat craftspeople had worked for Ethan Allen Furniture for more than 20 years before they started making bats. The level of pride and craftsmanship that goes into every X Bat really sets us apart from the pack.
While the cost of a pro quality bat billet has risen from around $8.00 when we started 20 years ago to close to $40.00 today, a 500% increase, our bats prices have only increased a fraction of that in 20 years. It is interesting to note that a $400. non-wood bat cost about $12.50 to produce while a $150. wood bat costs over $60. to produce. We want players to use the best wood bats because baseball is designed to be played with wood bats and we are baseball purists. While our bats are not inexpensive, they perform and outlast the competition year after year.
We decided early on to make the best bats we can and price them accordingly. Our bats are not for everyone. X Bats are for players whose passion is baseball or softball and want the best performing and longest lasting maple, birch or ash bat. We are still the ONLY company that makes pro quality bats for EVERY one of our customers. When players buy an X Bat they are buying the highest quality wood bat available anywhere today.