The Case for Wood Bats Gaining Steam

brokenbat2_485 Multiple Conference Commissioners in Division II baseball are exploring the idea of introducing wood bats universally to their level of play in 2012. It seems that this season we have seen multiple incidents involving balls hit at the pitcher that have inflicted harm. Tommy Toledo of Florida was struck in the face with a line drive that required surgery, and he is yet to return. Corey Williams of Vanderbilt was struck by a line drive on this now infamous play against the Gators, and the result was a broken kneecap and surgery. Also, Nick Capito of UCSB was struck in the face a few weeks back, but returned for his next scheduled start.

I wouldn’t think Division I baseball would move towards wood bats, but a bill has been advanced to the Senate in California to ban metal bats from high school play for two years, and that could have a ripple effect to the college level. This move was a reactionary result of Marin Catholic’s Gunnar Sandberg’s well documented head injury, which left him in a come clinging for his life at one point. I’d expect a similar moratorium to take place in New York, as a 13 year-old student named Brady Lee Frazier died over the weekend, resulting from an injury sustained by a line drive. Metal bats are already banned in New York City, and it wouldn’t surprise me with this incident that metal bats may be banned state-wide eventually.

It will be interesting to see what, if any, reaction there is by Division I NCAA Baseball on this subject after these multiple injuries. Proponents of aluminum bats claim there is no scientific evidence proving wood bats are safer than aluminum bats, while wood bat advocates cite the multiple injuries as well as the fact that the Major Leagues use wood bats as well as the Cape Cod League. This debate is multi faceted, as the use of wood bats doesn’t immune pitchers from injury on comebackers. Erik Davis of Stanford (now in the Padres system) was seriously injured back in the 2007 Cape Cod League, and there have been multiple career altering injuries to MLB players like Kaz Ishii and Bryce Florie.

The one part of this debate I do know is true, is that it’s never going to go away.

  • R

    I don’t think the average 13 year old could hit a wood batted ball hard enough to inflict damage like that. But a metal bet did? There is no debate. Metal bats should be banned at all levels. Horrible news on that kid, so enough is enough and let easton et al start making wood bats.

  • Robert Zaccardo

    As the parent of a D1 pitcher it is hard to believe that anyone could argue for metal bats unless they have no regard for the athletes safety. Finishing a pitch and landing 50 feet away from top hitters using metal is like standing in front of a golfer using a driver and expecting not to get hurt. The one way to solve the debate is to take every member of the NCAA committee that makes the decision and stand them in front of the L screen while D1 hitters take BP. They would all vote for wood very quickly if it was their safety in question.

  • http://thecollegebaseballblog.com Brian Foley

    Robert,

    I have to say that Metal Bats are dangerous but is it because of the bat or the standards that the NCAA mandates. I have dealt with a bat manufacturer that says they can make a metal bat do anything. They can slow the “exit” speed from the bat to whatever level you want. Maybe the NCAA should just lower the exit speed.

  • KS

    I have always found this an interesting issue. Having a son who plays D1, I have to say that there should be no doubt that wood (or composite wood)bats should be used. 1st, metal bats are more dangerous. A ball that is hit exactly on the sweet spot of a wood bat goes just as hard as metal bat. (The metal bat manufacturers argument.) The difference is that the sweet spot on a metal bat is much larger giving higher odds that you will find it. If I were to guess that a pitcher in the major leagues gets hit once every 400 games, I would think it would be closer to once every 100 games played with a metal bat because of this. Having thrown thousands of BP rounds, I can tell you that the majority of the balls hit right at the L-screen were outside pitches that were tried to be pulled. With a wooden bat, they are much more harmless on avg vs. metal bats that still manage to hit the sweet spot of the bat. You don’t want to change the “exit” speed because this would mean that when you did hit the sweet spot, it wouldn’t react like a wood bat. This leads to the second issue. D1 is supposed to be the top college players. Many coaches, universities, even the NCAA promote how many of these kids go into the pros. The biggest complaint you hear from the scouts is how difficult it is to determine how these hitters or pitchers will fare using wood bats. That’s why they love wood bat summer leagues. Changing how the metal bats react won’t make a difference with this. In fact, for a while, it will only confuse the issue even more. Finally, who doesn’t hate the sound of a metal bat. PING!

  • bs

    same here i think they should be banned. I play 8th grade baseball and I see people get it by line drives hit by metal bats. GO WOODEN BATS!