“Choosing the Right Bat”
By Rod Carew, Chairman, Rod Carew Baseball
Throughout my career, I had the greatest respect for my bats. I preferred a 34 ½-inch long, 32-ounce ash bat that was wide at the top and narrow at the handle, allowing me a proper mix of power and quickness at the plate.
But just as there are plenty of approaches to take at the plate, there are plenty of choices when it comes to selecting your bat of choice. There is no right or wrong generalizations, only what is right and wrong for you as a hitter. As much as anything else, it should be determined by the type of hitter you are – not the type of hitter you want to be.
Like many aspects of refining your hitting craft, experimentation is key. It wasn’t until my fourth season in the major leagues that I found the right fit for me.
Having initially choosing a 36-ounce bat, I noticed that Al Kaline, a future Hall of Famer for the Detroit Tigers, had chosen a much lighter bat. It was 32 ounces. When I asked why he went with such a light bat, his answer was simple: It felt good.
Many of the most prolific home run hitters of my day, such as Hank Aaron and Reggie Jackson, went with lighter bats, as well. Thus, a lighter bat and a quicker swing helped equate to two Hall of Famer careers and more than 1,200 home runs. They exemplified the notion that you should never get caught up in letting your ego choose a heavier bat. The size of your numbers speaks louder than the size of your bat.
Youngsters, in particular, often seem to think they will get more power by swinging a heavy bat. Not so. More than any other aspect, power is generated by bat speed through the hitting zone. Subsequently, by swinging a heavy bat you may, in fact, be sacrificing power.
Perhaps more important than any other aspect of hitting is finding the bat that you are comfortable with. And once you choose your bat, make the choice of treating it with respect. Take care of it and keep it clean, just like yourself. The look of a clean bat and a clean uniform says something about your sense of pride. I like to think it did for mine.
So, choosing the right bat is yet another important step on the road of becoming a successful hitter. The right bat is an important tool in developing your game and sustaining it.