Today’s Wonder of the Day was inspired by Matthew. Matthew Wonders, “which is the best baseball bat ever.” Thanks for WONDERing with us, Matthew!
For most of baseball history, wooden bats ruled the day. It wasn't until the 1970s that metal bats were introduced and became popular. Today, young baseball players can choose from a wide variety of baseball bats — both wooden and metal.
Wooden bats come in a variety of types of wood, including hickory (strong, but heavy), white ash (arguably still the most popular wood of choice), and maple (increasing in popularity since Barry Bonds hit 73 home runs in 2001 with maple bats). Metal bats, first made with aluminum, now feature a variety of space-age alloys and unique features. A top-quality metal bat can cost more than $300 today!
Why? Probably the most important reason is that scientific studies have shown that metal bats allow players to hit the ball faster and farther.
So why do metal bats outperform their wooden counterparts? Their lighter weight allows players to swing them faster, and players will tell you that a faster swing results in a faster batted ball. Scientists also attribute metal bats' superiority to something known as the “trampoline effect."
Although the physics behind the “trampoline effect" are quite complex, suffice it to say that the barrel of a metal bat acts somewhat like a spring, transferring more energy to the ball on impact than similar wooden bats. The more energy that the bat transfers to the ball, the faster and farther the ball travels.
So if metal bats are best, why do professional baseball players use wooden bats? Good question! Major League Baseball requires that all professional players use wooden bats due to safety and competitive concerns.
If metal bats were allowed in the big leagues, pitchers and infield players would be at greater risk of injury due to faster batted ball speeds. These same safety concerns have led many high school and college leagues to allow only wooden bats. Metal bats would also likely lead to a greater number of home runs, so forcing professional players to use wooden bats is intended to increase competition among teams.
Fun facts about the World Series:
- Because the World Series takes place in October, sportswriters often refer to it as the Fall Classic.
- The first night game in World Series history was played on October 13, 1971.
- The New York Yankees have won 27 World Series championships, the most of any Major League franchise.
- The Chicago Cubs currently have the longest streak of the most years between World Series wins. The Cubs won the World Series in 1908 and again in 2016, making it a 108-year championship drought.