One-Piece vs. Two-Piece Bats: Which One Should I Pick?
Buying a new baseball bat is hard.
There are so many options, so many variables. Some bats are longer, others lighter. Some are made of alloys while others are made of composite materials. For years, material defined the debate surrounding baseball bats, especially in the wake of youth baseball switching to BBCOR nearly a decade ago. The switch was made for safety reasons – balls had been screaming off the old bats, putting pitchers in danger of serious injury every time they faced down a comebacker.
After the switch, there was concern that the new materials would limit power by decreasing exit velocity, thereby changing the game by limiting offense at the youth level. After all, the new technology essentially turned metal bats into wood bats, deadening and shrinking the sweet spot in order to improve player safety.
Nearly ten years down the road, baseball has adapted. Technology has caught up with the rule change, allowing for hitters to find ways around a smaller sweet spot. In the past few years, one of the ways that it has made up for the change is splitting bats into two pieces. The choice between one-piece and two-piece bats has become the big question when it comes to debates centered around the perfect bat for baseball players.
Which one is better? To make a long story short, it depends. Both bats have different strengths. Really, it all comes down to a hitter’s individual preference. Different types of hitters may prefer one over the other, as may players who like a certain feel when the ball comes off the bat.
In the following paragraphs, we’ll break it down for you, showing the positives and drawbacks of each bat. While we can’t make the choice for you, we want folks to be as informed as possible when they decide which bat is the one for them.
What is a one-piece bat?
One-piece bats used to be the industry standard. As the name suggests, they’re made in one piece, from the handle on up to the end of the barrel. The same material is used throughout the bat, leading to a more solid feeling throughout the swing. One-piece bats are made of alloy or composite materials. They’ve been tried and tested over the years, as the basic design has been consistent since the inception of metal bats in the 1970s.
As the rules have changed and advancements have been made in the world of bat construction, with new materials providing for more pop, or in the case of BBCOR bats, softening them, they’ve continued to adapt. It’s worth noting that the bats used in professional baseball, though wooden, are one-piece bats. Many of the top bats in 2022 are also one-piece bats, such as the Demarini Voodoo 1, the Easton Maximum Ultra and the B5 Pro.
What are the advantages of a one-piece bat?
Despite the older technology, there are several advantages to using a one-piece bat.
- Because it is made of a single piece of material, the bat stays stiff throughout the swing. The lack of flexion in the bat creates a more solid surface that is able to transfer more energy to the ball, leading to more ball flight and ultimately, more power.
- Additionally, one-piece bats give more true feedback to the hitter, as the solid material allows for better hand feel. That sweet, effortless feeling of a barreled ball only comes from perfect contact, while a mishit ball will feel less clean, less pure. However, this can also be a drawback of the bat, as we will see in the next section.
What are the drawbacks of a one-piece bat?
Have you ever hit a ball off the hands and felt that sting? You know, the one that just reverberates through the bat, causing a wicked vibration and an eventual bat drop as your hands burn.
While modern alloy and composite construction has decreased the amount of vibration caused by a hit off the hands, it hasn’t dampened it altogether. Both bat types fall victim to this feeling, though it is more pronounced in one-piece construction.
Why is this? Well, it’s the same reason that the balls fly off a one-piece bat more so than on a two-piece bat. The solid construction, both in how it is one piece and the same material, allows the vibration to reverberate throughout the entire length of the bat, echoing for longer than it would on a two-piece bat. Additionally, there is no dampener, meaning that the sting spot is larger than it would be on other bats.
Who should use a one-piece bat?
The sting of a one-piece bat is certainly its biggest drawback. However, there is a reason that it is preferred by batters at the upper levels of baseball, in high school and college. At that level, you’ll see very few two-piece bats.
Why is that? Because many older players are used to that sting. They’ve experienced it hundreds, if not thousands of times throughout their careers. Thus, the biggest thing holding people back from buying a one-piece bat is not an issue for them. They are willing to sacrifice that feeling because they value the advantages of its construction.
Those advantages are the increase in power and the true feel of the feedback that one-piece construction provides. With a one-piece bat, more developed, stronger hitters can hit balls further. Additionally, they can get a better feel for the type of contact that they made, helping them adjust the next time up.
When it comes to younger players, power hitting can be a major advantage that it holds over its peer. Because so many youth players are looking for less sting in their swings, it allows for power hitters to stand out more, using their solid bats to hit long fly after long fly.
What is a two-piece bat?
Two-piece bats are a relatively new arrival in the world of baseball technology. Again, as the name suggests, they’re made up of two parts – the handle and the barrel, joined together by a connective transition area.
That connective transition area usually contains a dampener, which is included by bat companies in order to lessen the sting of balls hit just above the connective area. Two-piece bats are made of metal, alloys and composites. However, they are not utilized by wood-bat designs, making them a rarity at the upper levels of the game.
Two-piece bats are different in that they can be made of two different materials, creating what is called a half-and-half bat. In these models, the handle is often made of composite material while the barrel is constructed of aluminum, an alloy or some mixture of both. The latter is known as “hybrid” construction.
Two-piece bats are the only type of bat that can be half-and-half. They’re also the only type of bat that features a dampener. Some examples of a two-piece bat are Demarini’s “The Goods,” the Marucci Cat 9 Connect and the Victus Nox.
What are the advantages of a two-piece bat?
Two-piece bats are taking over the market at the youth level due to their innovative design that dampens the impact of mishit pitches. Several factors play into the dampening effect of such bats. First, there’s the obvious answer – the dampener. By having a rubber transition between the two parts of the bat, the reverberations following a bad swing are lessened, as the rubber acts as a stopper, dissipating the vibration by absorbing it.
By using two different materials, the bat allows for more give. Some say it feels as if it flexes through the zone, giving it a “whip” before extension. Furthermore, using two different materials leads to more options for personalization. If you want a composite feel with a barrel that doesn’t require breaking in, you can always pick up a half-and-half bat that has a composite handle and an alloy or metal barrel. It’ll feel smoother too, given the material choices allow for the denser metal to be used as a handle while the less dense metal can be assigned to the barrel.
Furthermore, while both bats have the same-sized “sweet spot,” a two-piece bat gives you that effortless feel on more swings thanks to its innovative design.
What are the drawbacks of a two-piece bat?
The dampener and the two-material construction don’t just take away from the sting of a mishit – they take away from the power potential of the bat too. Really, it’s simple physics: a one-piece bat remains more rigid throughout the swing. Upon impact, it gives less than a two-piece bat, resulting in more energy transferred to the baseball.
Though some say a two-piece bat flexes as it passes through the zone, this is untrue. A two-piece bat will flex upon impact with the ball, creating a less rigid surface for the ball to travel off. Just as the rules of physics dictate that a solid surface transfers more energy to the ball, a softer, more flexible surface will have its potential power fall when it gives upon contact.
For some hitters, this isn’t an issue, but we’ll get into that in the next section.
Who should use a two-piece bat?
For younger players, that sting can be brutal. I’m not going to lie – I’ve teared up after hitting a grounder off the handle. Your thumbs suffer and your hands subtly buzz for quite a few minutes. Given the fact that the pain takes quite a bit of getting used to, it’s no wonder why younger players prefer the two-piece construction.
It’s hard to blame them too. At that level, hitting for power is rare and hand speed is lower. Therefore, using a two-piece bat doesn’t sacrifice all that much power for its increased comfort at that age. That’s why those bats are nearly ubiquitous in Little League and the early stages of travel baseball – they just feel better.
As hitters get older, more experienced at the plate, and less bothered by the sting of an inside fastball, they’ll have to ask themselves a question – is the dampener really worth the tradeoff that comes with it? Is a comfortable feeling every few at bats worth less power and perhaps lower statistics?
Still, you do see two-piece bats in high school and to a lesser extent, college. At that level, they’re utilized by players who value bat control and like the feel of a heavier handle and lighter barrel. These players are often contact hitters, guys who don’t have much power and are fine making that tradeoff to use a bat that they feel more comfortable with.
Still, any player with major league ambition at the high school and college level must take into account that at the professional levels, the wood bats are all of the one-piece variety.
Which Bat Is Better?
So, one-piece vs. two-piece bats? Which one should you pick? Well, it really depends.
Both types of bats have their negatives and positives, their advantages and disadvantages. Both types of bats can suit different types of players better. Power hitters might prefer the one-piece models that allow them to hit further, as may advanced hitters with better hand speed and guys looking for a shot at professional baseball. Contact hitters might prefer the two-piece bat with better barrel control and less sting on those mishits, as may younger players who are not concerned with losing power or getting ready to use wood bats.
It comes down to personal choice, an individual perspective that takes needs and style of play into account. If you can’t decide based on that type of analysis, many batting cages offer hitters the chance to try out different bats. Just as you wouldn’t walk around in new shoes without trying them on first, nor would you buy a car without test driving it, you should always look to try out a new bat style before making a purchase.
Some important things to note while taking some qualifying cuts:
- How does the bat feel in my hands?
- How does the weight feel balanced throughout its length?
- What is the quality of the feedback I’m getting upon contact?
Ultimately those questions will guide you toward making a home-run choice in your next bat purchase.
A lifelong baseball fan, Jacob Prothro has covered all levels of baseball for MLB.com, The Wichita Falls Times Record News and Rivals.com. Prior to that, he was a light-hitting outfielder in the Texas high school ranks. In his free time, Jacob roots for the San Francisco Giants and plays in a men’s league, where he still hasn’t figured out how to hit a curve.