The purpose of this study was to examine the batting cage performance of wood and nonwood baseball bats used at the youth level. Three wood and ten nonwood bats were swung by 22 male players (13 to 18 years old) in a batting cage equipped with a 3-dimensional motion capture (300 Hz) system. Batted ball speeds were compared using a one-way ANOVA and bat swing speeds were analyzed as a function of bat moment of inertia by linear regression. Batted ball speeds were significantly faster for three nonwood bat models (P < .001), significantly slower for one nonwood model, and not different for six nonwood bats when compared with wood bats. Bat impact speed significantly (P < .05) decreased with increasing bat moment of inertia for the 13-, 14-, and 15-year-old groups, but not for the other age groups. Ball-bat coefficients of restitution (BBCOR) for all nonwood were greater than for wood, but this factor alone did not correlate with bat performance. Our findings indicate that increases in BBCOR and swing speed were not associated with faster batted ball speeds for the bats studied whose moment of inertia was substantially less than that of a wood bat of similar length.
Joseph J. Crisco, Michael J. Rainbow, Joel B. Schwartz, and Bethany J. Wilcox are with the Bioengineering Laboratory, Department of Orthopaedics, Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University and Rhode Island Hospital, Providence, RI. Address author correspondence to Joseph J. Crisco at firstname.lastname@example.org.