Through all levels of baseball, metal bats are dominant. They offer a smaller weight to length ratio, and so seem a natural choice for those starting out and those who want the most bang for their swing. But, throughout professional baseball, from the minors to majors, players must use wooden bats. So, how do they transition from metal to wood?
Players do not simply choose a bat that best approximates their old metal bat. While metal bats carry their weight in the handle, wooden bats carry it in the barrel. So, it’s a process of trial and error. Players not only need to choose length and weight, but also material. Ash wood has been dominant, but recently many players have turned to maple.
Through batting practice with both machines and live pitching, players learn how to adapt their swing to the different weight distribution of wooden bats. Because of the weight being near the end of the bat, players must even alter their style of swing, and perhaps even their pre-pitch ritual. Through many hours of batting practice they come to learn how to use their new bats. But, this may mean that a power hitter must become a contact hitter, or a pull hitter must become a spray hitter.