Composite vs Aluminum vs Hybrid vs Wood Bat

Composite, Aluminum, Hybrid or Wood

Written by: Just Bat Reviews

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If you are deciding which type of bat to get, then the following should be informative. Understanding the differences between a Composite, Aluminum, Hybrid and Wood bat may be difficult, but the following makes it simpler. We compare each type of bat to the other three. Below these we have some general recommendations for collegiate, high school and little league players.

Composite Vs. The Rest (Aluminum, Wood, Hybrid)

Composite, Aluminum, Hybrid or Wood Bat

When we speak of composite bats we mean bats that have a composite barrel. Some bats have a composite handle but an aluminum barrel and we call those bats hybrids. Composite barreled bats can be a single piece of material (called a single piece composite) or a two piece bat where both the handle and barrel are made of a composite material and mended together through some connective process.

Composite, generally speaking, is really a refined plastic made of carbon materials that can be shaped and structured for a number of different properties. In short, composite bats are indeed plastic bats.

Some general rules of composite bats when compared to aluminum, hybrid or wood.

  1. Composite bats almost always cost more than the rest.
  2. Composite bats (like wood) will crack upon breaking. Aluminum bats dent when the break.
  3. Composite bats tend to have longer durability than wood but not as long as aluminum.
  4. Composite bats cannot be used in cold weather (most manufacturers say sub 55 degrees).
  5. Composite bats are usually the material used in top-shelf high-performance bats.
  6. Composite bats can be single piece or two piece bats.
  7. Composite bats can, and generally do, have a lower swing weight than aluminum or wood.
  8. Composite bats usually require a break in period of several hundred hits.
  9. Over time, composite bats can increase in trampoline effect. Hence the need to work them in.

Some Examples

Single Piece Aluminum Vs. The Rest (Composite, Wood, Hybrid)

Composite, Aluminum, Hybrid or Wood Bat

Single piece aluminum bats are exactly as they sound: a bat shaped from a single piece aluminum. Additives are combined with the aluminum to give the bat material different characteristics—like durability. These additives are why we refer to the aluminum as ‘aluminum alloys’.

Some general rules when compared to Composite, Hybrid and Wood.

  1. Aluminum bats are almost always less expensive than the others.
  2. Aluminum bats are often referred to as Aluminum Alloy Bats.
  3. Manufactures add elements in their aluminum blend to create an aluminum alloy.
  4. All alloys are not created equal. Hence the price differences.
  5. Higher quality alloys are found in more expensive bats.
  6. Alloy barreled bats do NOT require a break in period like composite.
  7. Alloy bats are generally heavier to swing than composite but heavier than wood.
  8. Single piece alloy bats tend to feel more stiff, similar to wood, through contact.
  9. Alloy bats tend to have a smaller barrel than composite.
  10. Alloy bats are the most effective fresh out of the wrapper, they lose pop over time.
  11. Alloy bats break by denting, not by cracking. Small dents can be found by rubbing your hand and fingers over the bats feeling for inconsistencies.

Some Examples

Wood Vs The Rest (Composite, Aluminum, Hybrid)
Wood vs Composite

In terms of what Major League Baseball allows, only Birch, Ash and Maple bats are allowed to be played with. It is said those woods can have the correct grain structure and hardness as to not create dangerous situations. Birch and Maple bats require an ink dot test to measure the straightness of the grain and, without that test, are not legal for play.

  1. Wood bats are usually less expensive per bat. Yet, over a season, more wood bats are required because they break more often.
  2. Wood bats get props for being more traditional.
  3. A wood bat’s sweet spot, although usually quite smaller than composite or alloy, may perform as well as a .50 BBCOR certified bat.
  4. Wood bats are heavier to swing compared to aluminum and composite.
  5. Due to durability, wood bats can’t have big drops like composite and aluminum. (i.e. no drop 13 wood bats).
  6. Wood bats ends are cupped to have lower swing weights.
  7. Wood bats must be hit on the face grain for maximum performance or risk breaking. This is usually done making sure the label of the bat is up at contact. Composite or Aluminum don’t have this problem.
  8. There are way more wood bat companies than anyone usually imagines. Get youself a lathe and a trip to the home improvement store and you are in business.

Some Examples

Hybrid Vs the Rest (Composite, Aluminum, Wood)
Composite, Aluminum, Hybrid or Wood Bat

Bats are considered hybrid if they have a composite handle and an aluminum alloy barrel. The general intent is to take the benefits of the composite and aluminum alloy bats above and combine them into one bat. The idea has generally been well received in the market.

  1. Hybrid bats are made of both composite and aluminum material.
  2. Hybrid bats tend to cost somewhere below a composite bat and above a single piece aluminum alloy bat. (There will always be exceptions to this).
  3. The most traditional hybrid bat is a composite handle and aluminum (or alloy) barrel.
  4. One general idea behind traditional hybrid bats it the improved smooth feel you can achieve with a composite handle but still keeping the strong weight and high end performance of out-of-the-wrapper performance on an alloy barrel.
  5. Less traditional, but more and more common, hybrid bats may include an alloy barrel and composite end caps or a composite shell on an aluminum bat or soft composite outer shell and a hard aluminum inner barrel. Each one of these hybrid iterations have their own marketing story as to why it is a hybrid.
  6. Generally, hybrid bats tend to be heavier in swing weight than composite but lighter than single piece alloys.

Some Examples


Composite, Aluminum, Hybrid or Wood Bat

If we were to make an argument to prefer composite bats we’d put forth two arguments both of which stem from the reality that composite material allow for a larger range of engineering feats in the bat realmThese feats allow engineers to (1) create greater plate coverage with optimal swing weights. The expanded capabilities of composite also allows major manufactures the chance to be as (2) creative and push the envelope of innovation.

This point may may be valid but we’ve found it only marginally true and arguably helpful. The best aluminum bat doesn’t give up very much in plate coverage when compared to the best composite per swing weight. However, baseball is sometimes a game of millimeters and an additional 1/16 of an inch on the inside barrel of a bat may very well the difference you are looking for.

In the little league bat space composite bats do possess the ability to have greater pop (or trampoline effect) than their aluminum counterparts. As the graphite fibers inside the bat get messaged in the composite bat gains more trampoline effect. However, leagues now regulate the amount of trampoline effect a bat can work into through an accelerated break in test (ABI).

Aluminum bats, on the other hand, are never hotter than when they are taken out of the wrapper. There is no break in period required. Aluminum bats, in theory, begin to lose pop over time as imperfections in the aluminum, caused by hitting baseballs, negatively effect the pop in the bat. While the properties of aluminum make it so the bats rarely break, they do indeed lose their pop in time. Better aluminum tends to imperfect less easily.

Conclusions for College Players

While composite bats may have a larger barrel (and sweet spot) our experience finds most collegiate players prefer a top end aluminum barreled baseball bat. Very generally, many of them prefer the hybrid versions of top end bats because they are (1) hot out of the wrapper so they require no break in period and (2) tend to be more end loaded.

Others often prefer high one piece aluminum bats for generally the same reason but with a stiffer feel through contact (much like wood).

Conclusions for High School Players

For High School, BBCOR requirements mandate both composite and aluminum perform the same as wood bats. You may have a good reason to purchase a composite bat that is BBCOR certified (like it has a bigger sweet spot) but it isn’t because composite BBCOR bats have more pop than their less expensive counterparts.

Despite their similar performance standards, we suggest, very generally, that the majority of high school players will prefer a composite BBCOR bat for its (1) larger barrel size and (2) generally lighter swing weight. The added sting dampening that generally comes with composite bats is an added bonus. Unfortunately, these bats also tend to cost the most.

In the event a player does have the real strength to hit very well consistently then we wouldn’t be opposed to a performance level hybrid bat.

Conclusions For Little League baseball

Little league recommendations are often more a function of budget then performance. Assuming an unlimited budget we’d generally recommend a performance composite baseball bat for its (1) sting dampening, (2) large barrel size and (3) lighter swing weight. Of course those are simply general suggestions and there will always be exceptions. However, it should be noted, we would not purchase a cheap bat just because it was composite over a higher performance hybrid or single piece alloy bat.

We’ suggest purchasing a composite bat for a little-leaguer dependent upon the number of games played. Over 45 in a given year and it might be the right bet. Between 20 and 45 games a year we’d suggest a hybrid. Less than 20 it doesn’t make much sense to spend a lot of money on a bat therefore go aluminum. There is, roughly, no example we can think of where a wood bat is the right answer for a little leaguer.

Start looking with a search like This or This.

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2 thoughts on “Composite vs Aluminum vs Hybrid vs Wood Bat

  1. jre

    Oh the M’s are using wooden bats? The last 4 games I coulda sworn they’ve been using chopsticks when up to bat

  2. Pingback: The Difference Between Aluminum, Composite and Wood Bats

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