Building a Better Baseball Bat (.PDF Download)

April 19, 2018
Building a Better Baseball Bat (.PDF Download)

Back in 1995, a business colleague challenged me to design a high-performance composite softball bat. At the time, hollow aluminum bats were the most common, with major sports manufacturers offering a few high-performance (and expensive) titanium bats. Composite bats had been tried, but they were generally too stiff and their performance (as measured by hit distance) of no interest to top players. Wooden bats were still available but limited in use to Major League Baseball.

Analyzing Bats

As noted, hollow bats were the standard for softball, and their performance—which was better than that of solid wooden bats—was attributed to the “trampoline effect.” This term refers to the hoop-wise distortion and spring-back of the barrel section of hollow bats, something that gives a little more “pop” to the impact. Industry wisdom was “thinner is better,” and few people had a deep understanding of the physics behind this trend.

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