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Update: We are tracking the 2019 Little League World Series Bat Usage here.

6 Things You Must Know About Shaved Bats

6 Things You Must Know About Shaved Bats

July 8, 2019 | @BatDigest

We did some experimenting.

We took two identical bats (the 2018 Easton Ghost X in a USSSA Drop 5) and had one shaved by a company that shaves bats. (That is, we had some of its inners cored out so its barrel was more flexible).

Shaved Bats

Then did a number of tests including two different home run derbies as well as measuring their swing weight and compression. That data, combined with a ton of reading and conversations give us 7 things you should know about shaved bats. (See more swing weights here).

Hate Mail City

No other article on ours site generates more hate mail than this. It is a very popular article because, frankly, a lot of people are trying to cheat. We’ve been told to ‘keep our mouth shut’ and ‘delete this article’ and ‘its comical because we don’t know what we are talking about’.

In large measure, the hate mail comes from companies or dads that have made small fortunes shaving bats. Although, granted, they leave their comment anonymously. But, who else would defend an illegal practice and wish we were not on the top of Google rankings for a number of phrases including shaved bats?

We get at least a comment a month by some bat shaving hoser trying to get a link in their signature in the comments. We delete everyone of them.

Why such hate?

Because we say this without apology:

Shaving your youth baseball or fastpitch bat is a terrible idea that, among other things, puts children at risk. This is to say nothing of the fact it is literally against the law.

But, really, we aren’t trying to hate.

The truth is people want honest information about shaved bats. We don’t sell shaved bats, we don’t manufacturer or sale bats. We don’t even have a single affiliate link on this article.

We just want parents to make an informed decision from the often shady practice of manipulating bats.

We aren’t the moral police—although in this regard maybe we should be. In the end, it’s your dollar, its your liability, its your conscience. Those willing to cheat aren’t going to be swayed by us telling them its cheating—they already know that.

But, there is also a considerable number of folks trying to figure out what this bat shaving is all about. If you are trying to see if there is a loophole or allowance in the regulations to shave your bat then were here to tell you there is not. It is illegal in every way we can imagine.

1. Are Shaved Bats Legal in Cooperstown?

No. Shaved bats at Cooperstown park are 100% against the rules (and law). Don’t confuse the fact there are no specific bat regulations in a league with the idea that bats can be modified away from the certifications they carry. It is one thing to say there is no specific certification required for use in a Cooperstown tourney. It is quite another to modify a bat with a certification to a standard that exceeds that certification and then use it as if it is a bat with a new certification.

If you think we are wrong, because at least some people do, then go ahead and ask the tournament directors at Cooperstown if they allow modified and shaved bats in their major tournaments. Let us know what they say. Better yet, forward the email (brian@batdigest.com) to us and we’ll post it right here.

If you are feeling adventurous, tell the other team you’re playing that you have shaved bats. We promise to link the YouTube video of that interaction.

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Emails from Cooperstown Directors saying Shaved bats are Legal in their Tourneys

Submissions: 0

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Another thought, if there are truly no bat rules than use a fastpitch bat. Those things are hotter than shaved bats. Find your self a drop 8 Xeno from year’s past and go drop bombs.

2. Shaved Bats are Illegal in So Many Ways

Let us first be clear. Using a shaved bat is against the rules of every baseball or softball league we are familiar with.

For the record, not only is very likely the bat is illegal in the league you are using, you could face criminal consequences if you use a shaved bat and its hit ball injures another player.

There may be a HR Derby or two a year where manipulated and unsanctioned bats are legal (see, for example, the NCAA CWS HR Derby in Omaha). But, aside from those rare occasions there isn’t a moment we condone the use of shaved bats. They are dangerous, illegal and, to put it in no uncertain terms, flat out cheating.

3. What a Shaved Bat Sounds Like

If you were closely associated with travel (USSSA) baseball in 2016 you remember the blue and white CF Zen that was eventually banned. You will also remember that you could spot that bat across the park not by it’s looks but by its sound. The bat sounded hollow and deep. It sounded like you dropped a big rock into a well and it splashed into the water at the bottom. Blubmp. That bat was never shaved, but that bat was illegal for a reason. The composite had been manipulated enough during its work it that it was ultra hot.

Shaved bats sound similar.

But, do note, it would be nearly impossible to claim a bat is shaved just by its sound. Each brand and model have their own characteristics. If you could find another one of the same bat that had the same amount of work in and then compare the sound you might be on to something. But, good luck with that.

See our video above to hear the differences.

4. Where to Buy a Shaved Bat

According to some, there are derby’s, exhibitions and showcases that allow shaved bats. We’ve yet to see these allowances made explicitly on any website or writing. Instead, it is ‘word of mouth’ or a ‘they don’t care’ kind of policy that’s whispered to oneself. Frankly, we highly doubt most of these claims. At best these tournaments look the other way. In most cases, it is a lack of the ability to police a bat policy that leads to people quietly shaving their bat and, turns out, telling no one.

If you found this write up on shaved bats then it’s likely you know how to use the internet. We’d rather not link to any specific site as it might be seen as the endorsement of a policy we frankly don’t endorse.

Using a shaved bat anywhere that it is not allowed is flat out cheating and dangerous. We condemn it in the strongest language we can. If you are playing in a baseball league that you think allows any type of bat then SAVE yourself some money and buy a fastpitch bat instead.

5. Shaved Bats Hit the Ball Far

Like, real far.

Bat Shaving Information

Others have measured the differences in shaved vs non shaved bats. In short, shaved bats hit the ball much faster—anywhere from 2 to 6mph exit speed more.

Although several factors determine how much further you’d hit a ball with a shaved bat (see below) it is fair to say that an average of 30 to 50 additional feet is a reasonable expectation. Of course, we are talking about a well hit ball at a good launch angle too.

6. Shaved Bats Have a Lower Swing Weight

Another terribly obvious point is this: shaved bats weight less.

The shaved bat in our test, although originally identical, swings 7% lighter than its original counterpart. Removing the shavings removed the 1.5 ounces from the bat and decreased the MOI from 8800 to 8200.

A lighter swinging bat, assuming it is swung at the same speed, will not hit the ball as far as a heavier bat. Of course the trampoline effect has increased on a shaved bat and can make up for that lost weight at impact. But, do note, if you are getting your bat shaved it will swing a noticeable amount lighter.

7. How to Spot a Shaved  Bat

If it is done well then spotting a shaved bat is difficult, but no impossible. On the outside, putting the cap back on without any cosmetic signs is probable. Field compression tests can also do the trick. But, we think, a simple kitchen scale would indicate it as well. See:

Weight Tests

The easiest way to simply weigh it on a kitchen scale. Bat companies, notorious for having bats above their sticker weight, have yet to produce a bat (in all our time of doing this) that weighs LESS than the sticker weight. Shaved bats weigh less than their sticker. Our shaved bat that should weigh 27 ounces (32/27) ended up weighing 26.55 ounces. The original bat weighed in at 28 ounces.

Compression Tests

Some argue that using a compression tester is a fail safe way. But this is not as true as it used to be. Non-linear designs in bats these days change the transferable nature of compression tests—making them less and less useful. (We talk about that in our rolling article here).

That said, a compression tester, usually found for around $1500, isn’t an impossible request for major tournaments. Bats that have been shaved are considerable more compressible than those which have not been. The NCAA, in fact, is requiring such testing before games starting 2020. We think major youth tournaments would be smart to consider such actions.

Comments

Patti Pili says:

Thank you so much for this article! We, too, like Mark July 7, just came back from an event out of state 13U where there were no bat restrictions and we saw so many green cap Demarinis and Mako bats that entire teams shared, and the sound was just unbelievably telling and the staff could care less. One of these beamed our pitcher in the shin and we were just grateful it didn’t hit his face (as one of our pitchers did a matrix move to avoid thank god). In the end, out of 25 teams, the (2) to make it to the ship had only green caps hitting bombs 350 feet. Meanwhile, On a field nearby, same tourney, 14 yo’s are hitting 300ft w bbcor. It’s so dangerous. I wish these organizations fully considered the level of athleticism and play of 13 yo travel and how these super hot bats Place field players in danger.

Mark says:

Just played in an invitational, no bat restrictions but one team had 12 boys and all 12 used the exact same 2 bats. 2017 -5 CF Zen. The nice neon green ones. What was amazing (sarcastically) was 100pd kid could swing with about 55mph bat exit could hit the ball 300 ft. Coaching for years, never seen a more convincing case of a team using bats that may have been altered. Of course we can’t prove but HIGHLY suspect.

Could be the case. But, honestly, those drop 5 CF Zens are crazy hot. Still no idea how they passed the test—likely should have been banned with the drop 10 that year. But, to your point, real hard to tell.

Shawn V says:

Cooperstown 12U (top travel teams in the country) has no bat restrictions. Entire teams will use the same two bats the whole tournament.

There is a difference between having bat restrictions and shaving bats—which breaks the law. If you don’t think so then ask Cooperstown tourney directors if you can use a shaved bat in the tournament. Please report back what they say.

Modifying a bat away from its original composition and then passing it off as the original is in violation of the maker’s copyright and patent. Bats that are approved and have certifications are stamped with federally registered trademarks. Passing that bat off as certified under federally registered marks while it is fact manipulated to exceed that stamp is a crime.

As well, if you don’t think they have bat restrictions, then use a fastpitch bat. Why pay all the extra money to use a shaved baseball bat? Fastpitch is a 1.20 barrel and will hit a ball much further than any shaved baseball bat you can find.

Robert Stafford says:

I bought a Demarini J3A from Dunhams, took it home, removed the wrapper and weighed the bat. It was a 26 ounce bat, my scaled showed It weighed 25.2 ounces, with factory grip still on it. So stock unaltered bats can absolutely weigh less than the sticker, I used to own one.

Robert. Thanks for the comment. We’d guess you’re right about slowpitch bats. In our experience, we’ve yet to find a baseball bat in the literally thousands we’ve tested and weighed over the years to be less than the sticker weight (with the exception of a 2017 Rawlings Threat). To your point, slowpitch bats might be an entirely differently animal.

Anonymous says:

Just finished a 13U tournament this past weekend here in SoCal – the sound indication is very telltale – even more is if the bat gets handed to every big batter in the line up and each player checks it to see if it cracked yet…
Very common among some the most well known teams – becoming more common is one piece aluminum or BBCOR only

Anonymous says:

Putting the bat even on a digital scale is not a true sign that it has been shaved if it weighs under the sticker weight. First of all i can tell you that almost every composite bat on the market is not true to sticker weight. They always come in heavier and sometimes by over an ounce or more than it should. I have had almost every brand of bat in composite and they are all over weight. Second, the slightest change can make the bat lighter if it did weigh exactly what it should. For example, take off the grip that these bats come with from factory and put bat tape on the handle and it will weigh less. I have proven that with my scale cause i use bat tape. Bottom line…Only way to tell if it is shaved is to take off the end cap and look inside or cut it in half..no other way. So if your gonna call out someones bat to get looked at cause you think its shaved you better be 100% sure it is or your gonna look like an idiot. Also the compression test won’t be accurate either cause once the bat is broken in through the process of bp and hitting with it, it will test at a much lighter compression.

We definitley never claim that scale weight is a fail safe test. At the risk of repeating what we wrote in the article, this much we know, of the 100’s of bats we’ve weighed (and documented that we weighed) the only two which have EVER shown to be less than the sticker weight are the Rawlings Threat and the shaved ones. The Threat was NOT shaved. So, there’s your answer.

Still, if there’s suspicion the 1st thing we’d do is weigh the bat. It’s a much cheaper alternative than getting a field compression tester. No one in their right mind would start prying off the end cap. Come on now.

Is it a fail safe test? Of course not. But, if a composite bat weighs less than the stated weight, sounds more hollow than its counterparts and hits monster bombs on check swings then we’d be willing to “look like an idiot” so some cheater dad who bought from some cheater company can get the lifetime ban they deserve.

lab scale says:

a simple kitchen scale does not have the accuracy to tell one that a bat is 27.00 vs. 26.55 oz. if you said a lab scale that was accurate to three-decimal places, then i would concur.

Hmmm. We aren’t sure of this. Some kitchen scales are pretty accurate—measuring grams of flour/butter/whatever. (28 grams in an ounce). But, fair enough, kitchen scaled might not be the best litmus test for shaved bat. But they are the least expensive. And if a bat weighs LESS than the stated weight–even on a kitchen scale—we think it probable something funny is going on. We’ve weighed, on a kitchen scale, over 500 bats. Only two have come back below the stated weight: The Rawlings THREAT USA (not shaved) and the shaved bat we used for this write up. Anyhow, thanks for the comment and something to consider.

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