Ash VS. Maple
A couple of days ago I was in the clubhouse gathering opinions on why so may bats are broken these days in big league games. I stopped by Carlos Guillen’s locker and asked him his thoughts. "There used to be only a few companies that made bats," Guillen said. "Now, everyone is making bats. Naturally the quality is not as good with so may companies supplying them." Guillen estimates that he will go through 15 or 16 bats a month. It wasn’t always that way. Tigers hitting coach Kirk Gibson doesn’t recall using nearly that may bats a month. "The only bats I broke were the ones I snapped myself after a bad at bat," Gibson said.
Hmmmmm…now there’s a shocker.
Bench Coach Bruce Fields agrees that there is too much product out there. "There are a lot more bat companies today. The supply of good wood has been thinned out," he said. Guillen also added that the game’s best players receive the best quality wood for their bats. "Players like Pudge and ARod don’t break as many bats because companies want them to use their bats so they send them the best wood, " he said. At that point Magglio Ordonez joined the conversation and I asked him how many bats he has gone through this season. He paused as said, "I’ve used the same bat since spring training."
"Really?," I said.
Guillen looked at me like I was an idiot. They both started laughing. I actually bought it.
Apparently there is a difference in the type of wood players are using these days. Up until the 1990′s all bats were made of ash. That began to change when some players started using maple bats, which are heavier. Ash is considered the more flexible and stronger wood. USA Today recently published a great article on the subject. Check it out.
By the way, in Guillen’s first at bat the night of our conversation, he broke his bat. I just hit my cough button and laughed.