1.26.2010

George Will On Why Aluminum Bats Are Evil


For quite a while now I’ve been plodding through George Will’s Men at Work: The Craft of Baseball.

It’s a well-known book in the baseball world, and it’s been recommended to me multiple times. I’ve been a little disappointed in it so far (hence the “plodding through” as mentioned above), but that’s mainly because several of the characters Will spends so much time focusing on aren’t so impressive 20 years later (Orel Hersheiser, Greg Swindell, Jim Gott, Jose Canseco, Tim Raines, Wade Boggs, Dwight Gooden), and also because I’ve already heard his best anecdotes from his interviews on Ken Burns’ Baseball.

Nevertheless, Will does make some good points, and perhaps none of them better than his description of the insidious evil that is aluminum bats (which are, by the way, the main reason I don’t get into college baseball at all):
“And he was pitching to aluminum bats, which do not break. That fact is even more important than the fact that they put a few extra feet on fly balls and a few more miles per hour on line drives.

Because aluminum bats do not break, pitching inside becomes problematic, even futile. Jam a batter on his fists with a pitch that would shatter a wooden bat and he still may be able to put it in play or even over the infield for a hit. That is why college baseball games last so long and why college batting averages are so high—and why professional scouts have such a hard time judging college talent. Because of aluminum bats, college pitchers throw fewer fastballs than they otherwise would. They throw curves, sliders, split-fingers and other breaking balls, and they throw them away from the hitters.


This has three pernicious consequences: They do not develop the arm strength that comes from throwing fastballs; they jeopardize their arms with all the torque involved in throwing breaking balls; they do not learn to pitch inside.”
So, aluminum bats actually contribute to the weakening of the Major League pitcher (which, if you look at pitch counts, complete games and win totals, has continued at a dramatic rate since Will’s book was published 20 years ago).

Plus, they make that terrible pinging noise when the ball is hit. I hate aluminum bats.

p.s. One time I broke an aluminum bat in half. This is quite possibly the only piece of evidence in existence that I possess any sort of strength.

4 comments:

Will 1/26/10, 4:56 PM  

Was that the bat at GVBC? If it was, it was already cracked before you "broke" it. Talk about hyperbole.

Luke 1/26/10, 9:19 PM  

Will,

It was already cracked, but aluminum bats crack all the time. They don’t break all the time though.

And besides, I absolutely did break it. It wasn’t a hyperbole and there’s no need for quote marks—I just omitted some details.

Justin and Heather Bland 1/30/10, 1:28 PM  

Excellent post. Even though I dont know much about ball I have always hated aluminum bats, but I wasnt sure why.. thanks for the evidence.

Luke 2/2/10, 9:12 AM  

Justin,

It's because you have good instincts. The greatest sanctioned evil in the game (worse than astroturf, worse than the Designated Hitter).

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