For a few years now, most of the news regarding baseball bats has revolved around just how easily they break. Much of this has been attributed to the move away from the stout hickory bats of Babe Ruth’s day, to the lighter, faster-swinging maple and ash bats preferred by today’s players.
Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper flipped the script this week — he made news by failing to break his bat.
As one might intuit, the part of a bat most prone to breaking is the handle at the point just before it expands into the barrel. If the bulk of the pressure applied to a bat is just an inch or two into the meatier part of the barrel it won’t break.
During a 2013 game with the Tampa Bay Rays, Orioles first baseman Chris Davis executed a textbook bat break after a frustrating turn at the plate. Note how the brooding behemoth remains sufficiently focused to attack the offending stick of wood at its weakest point.
The juxtaposition of the Harper and Davis outcomes was gleefully illustrated on Twitter.
— Oliver Clothesoff (@SwagMoneyNaj) July 7, 2014