If you’ve been following baseball in the past few decades, you are likely familiar with birch bats and their increasing popularity. Birch is a relatively new wood in the market, hitting the scene quick—becoming popular in the early 2000s—and gaining traction up through today.
While not as popular as maple, birch has definitely found a unique place in the major league bat market. Due to their composition, birch bats are commonly dubbed a “perfect mixture of ash and maple.” It’s typically described as having the hardness of a maple bat with the flex of an ash bat. While this statement may be true to some extent, it’s not that simple. Let’s break down where this concept comes from.
Birch wood has a similar density to maple, and both are significantly denser than ash. Be careful not to confuse density with weight. Densities can be different, but a pound is still a pound no matter what. Like maple, birch’s high density makes it a hard wood—just not as hard as maple. As such, birch bats sacrifice some of the “pop” that players enjoy with a maple bat; however, birch bats have “flex,” which maple bats lack and some players prefer over hardness.
Even still, birch is not nearly as flexible as ash, which has a much more porous structure than birch, allowing more flex and a “trampoline effect.” Due to their composition, birch bats also require a break-in period. The grain structure needs about 100 hits, or “boning,” to optimize the bat’s performance. Ash bats do not need boning. So once again, the birch bat finds a happy medium between maple and ash bats, and many players love that happy medium.
Birch has found a home for players looking for a little more forgiveness. Birch provides great insurance for mishits, and the extra forgiveness makes it a perfect choice for youth players transitioning from a metal bat. Like metal bats, birch helps mask mishits caused by improper technique. It also helps the transitioning players learn where to hit the ball on a wood bat, as well as for competitive players who are prone to mishits off the barrel.
Birch wood has also become the choice wood for the popular coaches’ practice bats known as “fungos.” The flex and durability of the wood is very suitable for coaches who swing repetitively and want something that does not require a lot of exertion to send a ball where they want it.
Every bat has its advantages and drawbacks, so be sure to pick one that best fits your playing style and preferences. If you have any additional questions about birch bats, feel free to chat with us or use our bat selector tool. The pros here at Phoenix Bats take pride in producing and finding you your perfect bat!