What is the Best Wood for Baseball Bats?
The Answer Supported by Scientific Data

Answer--- Canadian Yellow Birch, TRUE Northern White Ash,
TRUE Hickory.               

What do we mean by "True"?

There are several true hickories and several pecan hickories.
Pecan hickories are not considered true hickory trees, but because Pecan is the female hickory tree and the wood looks the
same, the law permits pecan to be sold as hickory. And for the wood's primary purpose, (mostly for flooring and furniture),
it really doesn't make any difference.

For baseball bats however, the strength ratings for true hickories are much higher than for pecan

There are many types of Ash trees.  If you own a bat that is identified as just "Ash," it is unlikely to be
true Northern White Ash---which is the only Ash species suitable for professional grade baseball bats.
What We Recommend

Wood is a natural product so each wood species has it's good points and not so good points. Of the wood species offered by
Bear Valley Bats---Canadian Yellow Birch, European Beech (NOT American Beech!), Northern White Ash, all true
Hickories (including some Pecan Hickories) are strong enough for today's game.  

We are often testing other wood species and it appears at least one more species is about to be added to our list.

Some bat manufacturers push Maple bats today claiming it is "tougher" and "stronger' than White Ash, but do not be
misled.  It is true...Maple wood has a harder surface rating than Ash and Birch, but so does glass. And no one would dare
swing a bat made of glass.

The Janka Hardness ratings of wood say very little about the impact strength. In other words, a high hardness rating of a
wood species does not mean it is strong and will resist breaking.   

*THE classic example is Sugar (Rock) Maple. Maple wood, especially when it is over-dried to get weight down, simply does
not have the  impact strength to handle the forces of baseball pitching.  It is too brittle.

THAT is the real reason Maple bats shatter into multiple pieces.

Many species of Hickory are very hard and durable, but too heavy for game bats. True Hickory bats rarely come in under
-0 ounces even with the thinnest handles and barrels. That means a 33 inch bat will weigh 33 ounces, usually more.
What about Sugar (Rock) Maple??

Bear Valley Bats has never sold Maple bats and it is unlikely that we ever will, at least for game or training bats. Despite being
expensive, Maple is the weakest wood when tested for impact strength.  In fact, no matter how it is measured or tested, Maple is the
first wood species to fail from the stress of an impact. Even when measured as a ratio of impact strength to weight,
Maple is dead

Many bat manufacturers invested heavily in Sugar Maple without checking the data accumulated over the years by
government and private agencies. Every test on Maple indicates that it is too brittle for baseball.  It makes great floors and
furniture, but God did not design Maple wood to be used as a baseball bat.

Some bat manufacturers push Maple bats today claiming it is "tougher" and "stronger' than White Ash, but do not be
misled. It is true...Maple wood has a harder surface rating than Ash and Birch, (Maple doesn't come close to hardness of
true Hickory!) but so does glass. Maple wood, especially when it is over-dried to get weight down, simply cannot withstand
the  impact forces of baseball. THAT is the real reason Maple bats break so often.
So if you take into account that Maple bats break at more than twice the rate of true Northern White Ash and
up to four times the rate of our Canadian Yellow Birch and true Hickory,
it does beg the question: What is the


Our own experience and a scientific study documented that Maple performance has no advantage over Ash. None! (See
The Maple Bat Study & MLB Reaction

"The Sherwood Study essentially found no significant difference in batted ball distance between ash to maple."(BVB Comment---The
reason? Maple does not have a significant hardness rating advantage over Ash.)

Yet the study also showed that while ash bats tend to break innocuously, maple bats tend to “explode” on impact creating several
projectiles, the most dangerous being portions of the barrel, the heaviest part of the bat.

Based on surveys of breaks in the ash and maple bats, the study pointed to features such as slope of the grain, direction of grain on impact,
and overall wood quality as possible catalysts for the explosive quality of maple.

"Thus, it concluded that maple bats were no more advantageous to players, but posed a significantly
greater risk of breakage."
In a recent minor league game in Southern California, we counted 13 broken Maple bats.
That's correct---in a single game.  In fact the game's lead off hitter broke two in his first at
bat. These are the same Maple bats that are supposed to conform to the new MLB standards
designed to reduce breaking. No "slope of grain" or weight rules will change the fact that
Maple wood bats cannot withstand the impact forces of baseball.
Above, Tyler Colvin was impaled by the barrel of a broken Maple bat.  The photo shows
COLVIN rounding third base just as the broken barrel is about to impale his chest wall.
Fact:  MLB and ALL bat manufacturers who sell Maple bats are exposed to significant liability.


ALL bat manufacturers KNOW: that Maple is too weak for baseball; that it breaks into multiple pieces many
times more often than Northern White Ash and Canadian Yellow Birch;  and that many people have been severely
injured by the flying, pointed barrel of a shattered Maple bat.
We should state the obvious too...Maple wood is among the worst...not just for safety, but value as well.

1.) Maple is a heavy and brittle wood, heavier than both Ash and Birch.

2.) To reduce the weight of Maple, manufacturers put Maple through a vacuum kiln (oven) which over-dries the

3.) Extremely dry wood makes the already weakest wood (Maple) even weaker ...and very, very brittle. (Much like tempered
safety glass.)
All bat makers use the following data to determine the kind of wood that is suitable for baseball bats. Until
Barry Bonds made the Maple bat famous, bat makers never even considered using the wood for baseball bats,
not just because it was heavy, but because it was expensive and fragile.

Please review the data in the chart below. It should help you decide on the most appropriate wood for your
To determine the best wood for a baseball bat, all factors are measured as a ratio of the characteristic
measured to weight.

Why? Because weight is THE limiting factor for wood species used for baseball bats.

It doesn't matter how hard the wood is if the weight makes it too heavy to use as a baseball bat.

So, basic ethical standards prohibit us from selling Maple bats.

No matter what company you choose, we strongly recommend AGAINST purchasing Maple bats for game or
training purposes.
Genuine Yellow Birch, Northern White Ash, and true Hickory are the  only species of wood we currently recommend for game
bats. We are always looking at other wood species

We recommend most Hickories for game bats
only for those accustomed to the weight.
(They always make great training bats of course!)

...and Maple for furniture and flooring.
Have any ideas? PLEASE contact us with any thoughts on different wood species...if the strength to weight
ratio is high enough, it might make a great bat!