TigsTown Roundtable: No Maple Bats?

Ready to talk Tigers? Want to hear the opinion of the TigsTown staff? Welcome to the TigsTown Roundtable! This week's question: After the most recent incident, should MLB re-examine all ash wood or even aluminum bats?

Paul Wezner, Executive Editor
The situation with Tyler Colvin is incredibly unfortunate, and realistically, while certainly a freak accident, is likely something that will continue to happen on an occasional basis. But the reality is, there's no easy solution. Ash bats aren't the end all, be all, and while aluminum won't shatter, it could easily produce deadly balls back off the bat and that could hit defenseless players, especially pitchers, in the head. The flip side is that given the development of technology today, there has to be more that can be done to develop a special wood-based bat that won't have the same propensity to shatter. This is something baseball should begin exploring and ultimately pursuing, especially first off in the minor leagues or in spring training. But this is likely a solution that is years away, so in the interim, maple bats are here to stay, for better or worse.

Mark Anderson, Managing Editor
Any time something happens that makes the news -- in any avenue of life, not just sports -- it forces everyone to discuss it and call for change. In addition, while so many of those discussions will be heated and emotional, they often die down and ultimately nothing is done about the issue. I think that's going to be the case here, and I'm okay with that. For as many swings and broken bats there are in a baseball season, I'm surprised something like this hasn't happened already. What happened to Tyler Colvin is a horrible, freak accident, but I'm not sure this "one in a million" occurance should really force the change of bats throughout the game. While ash wood bats may have their virtues and may be a viable option, players have been reluctant to make the switch for a variety of reasons. Honestly, that's their choice. They want to use the equipment that gives them the best chance for success. The idea of using aluminum bats is pure lunacy at the professional level. While bat companies and other parties can work to control and limit exit velocities from most aluminum bats, that's assuming they are being swung by amateurs; not professionals. That difference may seem subtle, partiuclarly in the case of advanced college players, but it is a big difference. Even with restriction on materials, barrel construction, and exit velocity, I think the use of aluminum bats by the pros, leads us straight to elevated risk for pitchers and defenders. Pitchers barely have a chance to get out of the way or make a play on many balls now, let along with the use of an aluminum bat. All of this is being said without even an acknowledgment of the potential ramifications that many will claim the change in bats has on the history and statistics of the game. There are simply too many obstacles standing in the way of a sweeping equipment change when it comes to bats, and while the injury to Colvin, and the other incidents of recent years are tough to swallow, their frequency isn't great enough to provide the fuel for a sustained effort and investment to implement change.

Jason Avery, Associate Editor, Amateur Baseball
Although the incident with Tyler Colvin was unfortunate, the best thing for baseball to do is to keep examining the quality of their wood bats and see what improvements can be made to make them better. For me, aluminum bats are out of the question, because even though there have been incidents with broken bats, can you imagine what some of today's sluggers could do with an aluminum bat in their hands? There have already been incidents in college, high school and younger-age leagues where pitchers have been seriously injured after being struck with line drives off of aluminum bats, and I think the game itself would be dramatically altered if you gave major league hitters aluminum bats. Hopefully, baseball will take a closer look at the situation, but there is no need for a knee-jerk reaction to bring aluminum bats into the equation.

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