BY CHRISTIAN DUNBAR
2017 is coming in hot and its time to start thinking about what bat you’ll be swinging this year. In this article we break it down to hitting type for you, so that you can see what the most popular turning models are with respect to hitting style. You’ll notice that the pros that swing these bats often don’t fit into the category their bat falls under, but for young hitters, this is a great resource that will give you a head start towards finding the right wood bat for you.
If you’re a “contact hitter,” you’re the kind of guy who might not lead the team in bombs, but you can hit to all fields, find a gap every once in a while, and at the very least you’ll put pressure on the defense. You prioritize balance and readily make adjustments, feel completely comfortable with two strikes, and you’re not often fooled. You may not generate the bat speed that the power hitters behind you are capable of, but you’ll get you a rally going when the power hitters haven’t figured it out just yet.
Note: This is also a good list for those swinging wood for the first time. They will be closest to the feel of a metal bat.
Contact hitters typically like balanced bats that are easy to control. The 271 is the most popular turn model for contact hitters. It features a medium barrel with a slow taper as well as a tapered medium handle. If you have trouble getting through the zone this is the bat for you. Swung by: Troy Tulowitzki, Prince Fielder, Brandon Phillips
- Customize a 271 at SluggerCustomBats.com
- Many stock 271s at Slugger.com
- B45 B271 Stock and Custom
- SamBat KB1 (Same as 271)
72 (Slugger’s DJ2)
Another great option for contact hitters is the 72 (swung by Derek Jeter and ceremoniously renamed the DJ2). The 72 features a tapered barrel that runs straighter than the 271, the handle is very thin and is met by a round traditional knob. Players tend to like this because it mimics the feel of metal bats. Though many contact guys use the 72, it is end loaded by design. Swung by: Jeter, Robin Yount, Cal Ripken, Jr.
- Customize a DJ2 (same as P72) at SluggerCustomBats.com
- Many stock P72s at BallGloves.com
- SamBat PS2 (Same as 72)
Another great choice not only for contact hitters but everybody, the 141. The 141 features a very long barrel with a medium or thin handle and medium knob depending on which manufacturer you buy from. If you are looking for the bat that gives you the best chance to make contact with the sweet-spot consistently, this is your bat. Swung by: Joe Panik, Brian Dozier
- Customize a 141 at SluggerCustomBats.com
- Several 141 finishes available at B45Baseball.com and fully customizable here for $20 bucks more.
- SamBat CD1 (Same as 141)
Gap to Gap/Line Drive Hitters
If you’re a “gap-to-gap” guy, you often end up on 2B. You hit lasers, period. When you’re clicking, the ball sizzles off the bat. The pitcher better make sure he hits his spots, otherwise he’ll be in the line of fire.
Gap hitters tend to prefer balance and barrel size. The most popular and oldest model in this category is the 110. The 110 will have a thick handle and a medium to large barrel diameter that will have a medium taper. This is the most balanced bat in this section. Swung By: Curtis Granderson, Edwin Encarnacion
- Customize a 110 at SluggerCustomBats.com
- Many stock 110s at Slugger.com
- B45 B271 Stock and Custom
- SamBat MMO (Same as 110)
Another great gap-to-gap bat is the AP5. The AP5 features a medium flared handle that is paired with moderately large barrel and long sweet spot. This bat will have a great barrel size to balance ratio. This is popular for those who may have bottom hand issues as the flare makes for a more comfortable swing. Swung By: Albert Pujols, Yadier Molina
The CB15 features a thin handle that meets with a traditional knob. The barrel has a quick taper to a large and long barrel and is what I refer to as “slightly end-loaded”. Players who want to feel the barrel more gravitate towards this model. Swung By: Carlos Beltran, Dee Gordon, Freddie Freeman
Pure power hitters don’t mind an end-loaded bat, because barrel mass plus force equals dingers. Class dismissed.
The most popular by far in this category is the 243. The 243 has a medium or small handle depending on the manufacturer with a slightly flared knob. The barrel is always large and will be end-loaded. The 243 is considered the original power bat. Kris Bryant, Adam Duvall, Daniel Murphy
- Customize a 243 at SluggerCustomBats.com
- Many stock 243s at Slugger.com
- B45 B243 Stock and Custom
- SamBat SG2 (Same as 243)
The CU26 has a thin handle with a traditional knob. The barrel is similar to a 141 in style but it balloons out giving it a serious hitting surface. Players who enjoy added barrel feel will like this bat. Chase Utley, Rougned Odor, David Dahl
The i13 features a medium handle with a flared knob. The handle has a very thick transition to the large barrel which allows as much barrel mass through the zone as possible. Their are many types of variations of the i13. If you enjoy barrel whip you will love this bat. Evan Longoria, Dansby Swanson (high density), Nelson Cruz.
- Customize a i13 at SluggerCustomBats.com
- Many stock i13s at Slugger.com and Eastbay.com
- B45 B13 Stock and Custom
- SamBat JB1 (Same as i13)
Wood type is all personal preference.
White Ash was the most popular wood type until the early/mid 2000’s. It is the lightest feeling wood when it comes to swing weight. If you like the feeling of the ball flexing or trampolining off the bat then ash is the wood type for you.
Maple became popular when Barry Bonds broke the home run record. Maple is a very dense and hard wood. For those transitioning to wood from metal, if you like the feel of composite type bats then you will likely enjoy swinging maple.
Yellow Birch is the newest out of the bunch. Birch is in the middle of the two and share characteristics of Maple (Hardness) and Ash (Flex). It also allows you to be able to use bigger barreled bats while maintaining a good wood density balance.
Every player needs to finds the right balance for their type of play and the bat model you end up using may not fall in your hitting category. Go into a store and try out different models to see what works for you. Something to keep in mind is that if you decide to go with a big barrel, the wood will be less dense, especially when choosing Maple. The more dense a bat is, the more pop it will have. You may want to go Ash or Birch in the larger barrels to keep wood density at a good number. You see pros sometimes opt for -1.5 (i.e 34.”/32.5 oz.) to keep the bigger barreled models’ density high. Higher density also means a more durable bat that is less prone to breaks.