I get asked a lot the question of “why did my bat break?” or “my bat broke pre-maturely, is there some sort of warranty or can you guys replace it?” These questions are quite complex and are often hard to judge without seeing the actual use of the bat but you are still able to tell a lot from the bat itself and making sure they are used properly from the start to ensure a full life span. Wood bats are quite fragile if used improperly so being knowledgeable about them will not only help you as a hitter but also save you money.
The biggest thing that leads to premature breakage is hitting on the wrong side of the bat, often referred to as “logo up or logo down.” What this means is make sure contact with the ball is made on the edge grain of the bat versus the face grain of the bat which can be seen below. Ash bats are much more susceptible to this type of breakage and you’ll typically see flaking of the barrel. One thing to keep in mind here is that some people swing with a “quarter roll”, so when they have the logo up or down they actually make contact on the face grain. This is a simple fix and the player needs to adjust the logo so it’s either facing towards the pitcher or away from the picture, basically they turned it a quarter roll in their hands when they start. The best way to test this is to grab your bat and take a couple of practice swings holding it up in the logo down or up position and stop the bat where you would make contact and see where you’re making contact. If you’re making contact on the edge grain you’re good to go, if you’re not simply turn the bat a quarter roll in your hands before you start and take another practice swing and you should see you are now making contact on the edge grain.
The other major cause of premature breakage is making contact on the “weak” spots of the bat. The big examples here are getting “jammed”, making contact in on the handle, on an inside pitch or hitting it off the end of the bat because you were “out in front” or ahead of the pitch and the end of the barrel made contact first instead of the barrel. The big thing to keep in mind here is that you might make contact in one of these weak spots but your bat doesn’t break. Usually when this happens you can feel on contact that something definitely wasn’t right, when this happens it weakens the wood and makes it more susceptible to breaking on future swings. Bad hits over time will weaken the bat and at times you will have what you think should have been a solid hit but your bat breaks and you’re thinking to yourself “wow there must be something wrong with the bat” but in reality it was caused by previous bad hits and was just the breaking point in what the wood could handle.
The last type of breakage we see is the ones due to faulty wood. It doesn’t happen often but we do see it from time to time. The big thing here is looking for the straightness of the grain. If you see a lot of wavy grain it makes the bat considerably weaker and often leads early breakage. Usually you can even tell the difference in the contact when you use a bat with really wavy grain compared to a straight grained bat as it won’t feel as solid when you make contact. This type of wood is most commonly found in your retail stores and often why they’re so much cheaper than your custom bat bought directly from a company.
If you have any questions or comment feel free to ask, hopefully with this information and tips you can make your next bat not only last longer but with more pop!