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Baseball season is coming up and I would like to know which bat is best for me. I think the heaviest bat I can swing good would be the best, but my brother thinks the lightest bat would be the best so you can swing it as fast as you can. I said if you have a bat too light; A, you won't hit the ball far, and B, it will hurt your hand. I think the heavier bat would be better because it has a greater inertia. Who is right? I would like to hit the ball farther and I don't want my hand to hurt.

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  • $\begingroup$ Whatever works for you. At some point the bat gets so heavy that you can't swing it very fast, but a very light bat, at maximum swing velocity, does not carry very much power to transfer to the ball. So you need something in-between. Plus the weight of the bat affects how easy/hard it is to control in several respects. $\endgroup$
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 6 '18 at 23:29
  • $\begingroup$ This is my point, I said I should use the heaviest bat I can swing well, and I told him a light bat doesn't have as much inertia as a bat with greater mass. $\endgroup$ Apr 6 '18 at 23:32
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    $\begingroup$ acs.psu.edu/drussell/bats/batw8.html $\endgroup$
    – BowlOfRed
    Apr 6 '18 at 23:42
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    $\begingroup$ There's a difference between "swing well" and "swing optimally". You not only need speed, you need control and timing, harder with a heavier bat. There is no magic formula -- it's whatever works for you. $\endgroup$
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 7 '18 at 0:32
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Well we can look at momentum here, since you essentially transfer momentum from your bat to the ball

p=mv

Where p is the momentum m is the system mass (In this case we can just consider baseball since your arm's mass don't change I presume) v is the velocity

Let's just assume that momentum is conserved here. So if you pick a bat that is TOO light, you end up with a small m, and realistically you can say there is a v that you probably won't pass due to air resistance and how fast your arms can move and other factors. So a small m, but not a large increase in v results in a small p, so your momentum will end up being small.

For higher mass however, you are not going to be swinging as fast. But that is made up by the mass of your bat. Too high of a mass however, and you won't be able to swing the bat fast enough to react to the ball.

So there is actually a wee range where the amount of mass and the velocity you'll swing at gives out the maximum momentum. It is capped at the maximum velocity you can swing with a lower mass, and the highest mass to which you can swing the bat sufficiently fast.

As to how much the bat will hurt your hand, it is usually the vibration of the bat that ends up hurting your hand. And yes, higher mass means less vibration due to inertia.

So with these two, I would pick the highest mass bat I can swing at a sufficient velocity

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  • $\begingroup$ The material the bat is made with and the profile of the bat has a significant effect on the vibrations sensed by the hands. $\endgroup$
    – Hot Licks
    Apr 6 '18 at 23:31
  • $\begingroup$ Does this mean if I raise my arm strength, to the point I can't swing the bat any faster, that's when I should change my bat to a heavier one, or should I just find the heaviest bat I can swing fast? $\endgroup$ Apr 6 '18 at 23:36
  • $\begingroup$ Like Hot Licks said, it is actually the profile of the bat that has a higher significance on vibration sensed by hands. But assuming profile is the same, then heavier the bat the better. Now given that our arms have a max speed, obviously the only way we can increase momentum is by increasing the mass, and also remember that air resistance actually increases as your velocity increases, making it more inefficient. But heavy bats don't allow as much flexibility and hurts your arms more in sudden stops so I think somewhere in the middle, between heaviest and lightest $\endgroup$
    – Blitzfrog
    Apr 6 '18 at 23:38
  • $\begingroup$ If you don't want the bat to be TOO light, then why do some M.L.B. players illegally hollow out there bats? Do they think a greater velocity is better than having a big enough mass? $\endgroup$ Apr 6 '18 at 23:40
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    $\begingroup$ Funny that, because it actually doesn't make them hit further. What it does however, is allow them to swing and control the bat more precisely due to lower weight, allowing them to hit the sweet spot more often and at a sufficient speed $\endgroup$
    – Blitzfrog
    Apr 6 '18 at 23:42
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One physics-like way to think about this is to consider the end cases: what about an incredibly light bat? Incredibly heavy bat? Neither is likely to be great: nobody bats with a soda straw or steel I-beam.

So “best” must be somewhere in the middle.

Now we need to narrow it down for you and your muscles, reactions, skills, etc.

On the heavy end, if you can’t move it fast enough to routinely make contact, it’s too heavy. Find the heaviest you can hit pitches with and set it aside.

Control also matters, but so does putting power in. Find the lightest that feels like you can control and really get some meet into.

Now take those two “just barely” bats and compare them. Optimum is likely to be about half-way in between. That’s where you get a mix of power and control.

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