One of the battles in the bat community is over composite bats vs aluminum bats. Which one is really better?
Like many sports, baseball has seen its share of innovation in recent years.
Bats are one of the main areas of focus when it comes to new materials and designs. With more companies competing for marketshare it’s important that these brands put out a high quality product.
Most bats can be placed into one of two categories.
Composite or aluminum.
Let’s take a look at each so you know you are making the right decision with your next bat purchase.
What’s The Difference Between Composite and Alloy Bats?
First let’s define what each of these terms mean.
Composite bats are constructed from engineered carbon fiber materials. Most companies will develop and manufacture their own proprietary composite material to use in their bats.
For example the popular Meta Prime from Louisville Slugger utilizes their newest EKO Composite material.
The barrel of the Demarini CF is constructed from Paraflex Plus Composite.
Alloy bats (same as an aluminum bat) are constructed from a mixture of aluminum and other metals.
This is what makes it an “alloy.” It is simply a mixture of two or more metals.
What Are The Advantages of Composite Bats?
Composite bats have a many advantages. Mainly because there is much more control during the engineering process on how the weight is distributed in the bat.
The carbon fiber construction allows for a lot of options when it comes to making customizations.
The same composite model can be available in a balanced or “end-loaded” version. This gives players a lot more personalization when it comes to selecting the bat that’s perfect for their swing!
The biggest advantage to composite baseball bats has got to be the barrel size.
If you look at the top bats on the market with the largest sweet spot they are more than likely going to be composite.
Because the carbon fiber material is much lighter than an alloy it can be drawn out into a much larger barrel without adding significant weight.
There is also an enhanced “trampoline effect” that you will often see from these bats.
For those two reasons a lot of people are drawn towards composite bats.
What Are The Disadvantages to Composite Bats?
Despite all of the great things about composite bats they do have their flaws.
The carbon fibers in the barrel need time to “loosen up.” This means that all composite bats have a break in period.
Not breaking in these bats correctly could lead to poor performance and even a shorter lifespan.
You can check out the composite bat break in guide from Marucci if you’d like to learn more about this process.
Another point of concern is cold weather.
Now let’s be honest. Hitting in cold weather is no fun no matter what type of bat you are using.
But composite bats have been known to have problems in colder temperatures.
One again this is mainly due to the carbon fiber construction.
When temperatures fall below 55 degrees Fahrenheit there is a greater likelihood that these bats can crack.
And lastly, they are expensive!
Carbon fiber is not cheap and a lot of research and development goes into these materials. You can be sure that you are going to end up paying for this technology!
Next lets take a look at the aluminum bats:
Advantages of Aluminum Bats
If you’re an old school guy like me you never really knew of anything but aluminum bats.
Now there are different alloys on the market and more options than ever before.
One of the biggest advantages of aluminum bats is the durability. These bats are usually going to have a longer lifespan than composite.
They also don’t require a break in period so they perform best right out of the box!
Alloys are much stiffer than carbon fibers. This is actually preferred by a lot of hitters due to the fact it can allow for a faster swing speed.
These bats also seem to have a bit more pop despite a smaller sweet spot. If you are consistent with solid contact then you may want to consider using an alloy bat!
There are a lot of different types of alloys used in manufacturing aluminum bats. This is what determines the cost.
Just like composite materials, manufacturers research and develop different alloys for their models.
You’ve got options like the SL Hyper™ super-light alloy in the popular Louisville Slugger Solo.
Or the Marucci CAT8 BBCOR which is made from AZ105 alloy.
Alloy bats are also available in a much wider range of price points. Not everyone is willing (or should) to spend $499 on a bat.
You can get some excellent bats in the $199 range.
There are also some brands that we’ve been keeping an eye on that are even more affordable but seem to be getting some great reviews.
More on that to come after we’ve had to chance to test these bats ourselves!
Disadvantages of Aluminum Bats
Like everything else, aluminum bats have drawbacks as well.
Since the alloy can’t be drawn out as much as carbon fibers (without making the barrel too heavy), aluminum bats will typically have a smaller barrel.
This means that the sweet spot is going to be a little smaller which requires more precision from a hitter.
On this same note, if you miss the barrel you are probably going to experience a little more sting than you would with a composite bat.
Many alloy bats are one piece construction which makes it more challenging to deal with the vibrations caused by poor contact.
So Which Bat Is Better?
This is one of those questions that doesn’t have a simple answer.
Obviously both bats are great options or companies wouldn’t spend millions of dollars manufacturing them each and every year.
What it really comes down to is what you are looking for in terms of cost, durability, performance and weight.
A players individual swing also makes a big impact on choosing the correct bat!
There are definitely bats that will perform higher across the board.
But there is not one bat that is going to be best for every single player out there!
The only way to know for sure is to test different options and see which one performs the best for you.
More and more companies are finding ways for players to demo bats before buying. There are also some facilities that offer bat fitting services.
This is definitely something worth checking in to before deciding which is the right fit!
Let us know which bat you prefer in the comments!