If we were forced to buy the best wood bat then we’d buy Marucci’s AP5 in pure maple. Our hitters love the flared knob version and the massive barrel. In terms of a big wood bat for strength training, durability and barrel profile nothing is better. If we wanted a bit of a lighter swing, we think the best wood bat is the Victus JC24. The barrel’s balance transition and hard maple construction is a perfect feel for us and, apparently, a number of pro players too.
Best Wood Bats
Albert Pujols’ bat is built for power and durability. It is an end loaded bat with an extra large barrel. Our hitters preferred the solid feel, lack of sting on mishits and the muscle required to swing it well.
The bat has a tapered knob and a longer tapered handle.
If we could only have one wood bat for the rest of our lives we would choose the AP5 from Marucci. Its durability and value in strength training and cage BP is our deciding factors. Granted, there are a lot of great wood bats and no company has yet to patent Maple Trees. But the AP5 is where we first came to love maple bats and we’d never go back.
GianCarlos Stanton’s Sam Bat is a 100% pure Canadian maple stick. The Maple 2K2, GianCarlo and Rideau Crusher are stamped on the barrel. The traditional Sam Bat Logo is there too. GianCarlo’s bat is a 34 inch and 32 ounce stick of dynamite. Although a little thinner barrel the 2K2 is very similar to Stanton’s hitting coach’s bat called the 2K1. His hitting coach is Barry Bonds. He is known for putting Sam Bat on the map.
(See Aaron Judge’s Bat)
You can think of the JC24 from Victus as a remodel of the C271 (which is our favorite Slugger wood bat). This very popular Victus bat is built for durability and the base hitting player. It is built with a smooth transition, great balance and a slightly flared knob for a comfort feel.
If you are new to wood bats, or consider your self a base hit wonder, then the JC24 will likely be a perfect fit for you.
Victus, once and obscure small wood bat company, has come on the scene like mad over the last few years. (Getting bought by Marucci must have helped). The Houston Astros use of the bats on the team has improved their image and reach. But their bats have always been top shelf.
See our Victus Axe handle bat review.
Slugger’s C271 is the traditional look and feel that most associate with a wood bat. We prefer the bat in Maple, although you can get it in either Ash or Birch.
It is also the most common shape of any bat in the MLB. It has a great combination of balance and girth and uses a medium flared knob for a great feel on the bottom hand.
If you want a no frills wood bat from a great company with longstanding tradition of making the best wood bats then the C271 from Slugger is where start and end.
There are several fantastic wood bats on the market with great pop and power. They come from a number of brands and companies. In 2018, no less than 50 wood bat brands were readily available for purchase. We review many of them, although impossible to keep up with all of them, here.
No one invented or put a patent on maple trees.
Since Marucci is the most popular wood bat on the market, we think it reasonable to suggest they make the best wood bat. And, since the the most popular bats in the Marucci Pro line are the AP5 and the CU26, we submit the AP5 and CU26 as the best wood bats on the market today.
After hours of hitting and testing, anyone wetting their feet in the wood bat market will be perfectly happy with the AP5 or CU26 from Marucci.
Ash or Maple?
Pro players tend to prefer maple bats. In 2018 closer to 90% of all MLB at bats were Maple and with the rest filled by Ash (and a very few filled by Birch).
Players newer to the wood bat market might like the Ash or Birch models better because they have a little more give.
Although we claim the AP5 and CU26 in maple are the best wood bats on the market the fact is there are a number of great craftsman taking top end billets of maple and ash and turning them into great wood bats.
See, for example, our small wood bat companies.
Wood bats, due to their rarity, are much more difficult to track down. Most wood bats are best bought directly from the company’s website. But, if you are looking for very common wood bats, like the Marucci ones on the top of this list, then man major vendors sell them too. Amazon’s wood bat section is growing too and we often find our selves looking through the huge amount of options there too.
There are a few criteria for deciding the best wood bat. These are clearly debatable. But, three principles in particular kept our attention long enough to help form our decision.
If only God owned a bat company. Then they might be able to claim they owned the patent on growing stronger trees. Instead, all bat manufacturers draw wood from the same earth and billet farms. Access to the best billets of wood are available to the highest bidder. As such, there are more than a few companies or brands that use top quality hard woods to make pro level bats.
Each company also has a process, much of it proprietary, on determining which billet ultimately makes the best bats. Marucci, as an example, uses sixteen different sets of eyeballs and sixteen different manufacturing stations. Each with a quality control process that ensures, in their mind, they are producing the best piece of ash or maple on the market.
Is Marucci’s process of determining the best wood any better than Louisville Slugger’s or Chandler’s? It is unlikely that is the case. But, we are confident the best wood bats need some serious vetting by trained eyes to be considered.
Another reasonable approach to deciding the best wood bat is to consider what the best players use. As that group of folks have the most riding on their wood bat’s performance, it is not unreasonable to assume they have the best one. It turns out, as you might have guessed, there are nearly as many wood bat models being used in the pros as there are players. Often, each have their own style, feel and turn model.
There are, however, more Marucci branded wood bats in the pros than any other brand. Just watch any game or check out the bats of the World Series. Some reports suggest no less than 35% of MLB players use Marucci. The next closest brand, Louisville Slugger, is not much more than 20%.
As we are sure their competitors would argue, Marucci’s market dominance at the big league level may have more to do with other company traits not tied to bat performance. They are, after all, the same wood from the same trees. Fair enough. But, if deciding the best wood bat was a democracy, and votes were cast by the amount of players in the big leagues that used a certain brand, Marucci should be considered the best wood bats on the market today.
We also consider Marucci the best wood bats because they offer any number of options. No doubt, many companies and brands in the wood bat space do too. But as a requirement for the best wood bat and wood bat brand the options box must be checked.
We would suggest you don’t use the phrase bone rubbing in any normal conversation. But, do know, bone rubbing a bat is a real process that only the best wood bats in the business utilize. It is an extra step in the process. To bone rub, a bovine bone is rubbed against the grains of the bat to make them more dense. A more dense wood grain is stonger. A stronger wood bat is almost always better.
As we looked to determine the best wood bats on the market today, they must be bone rubbed. Marucci’s top shelf Pro model bats, like many, are bone rubbed.