Friday, February 18, 2011

SMALLS TALK: My Bat of Choice

Every player wants to trust the bat in his hand. He wants it to feel comfortable and familiar, and when he swings it, he's looking for consistency and pop.

These desires are universal - but when it comes to the dimensions of that bat in their hands, most players vary in preference.

Aside from the obvious weight and length, there are different aspects to every model. There are big barrels, medium barrels, and long barrels. Handles can be thick, skinny, even tapered. Do you like a lighter feel, or perhaps the momentum of a top-heavy bat? Do you want it finished with that glossy look - maybe even double-dipped? Or perhaps you prefer the grainy feel of raw, unfinished wood?

What about the end of the bat - do you want it cupped or rounded? And what color would you like?

Decisions, decisions.

That's the fun of wood bats, though. Unlike metal, there's no exact mold or specifications that need to be followed directly - your bat can be custom built for you, and there are countless models to pick from. The trouble isn't in deciding what kind of bat you like, however - that comes to you as time passes and you gain more experience with wood. Nope, the trouble is deciding which of the countless bat companies to turn to when it comes time to order that perfect bat.

For me, it's Zorian Bat Company.

During three years of summer ball and my time spent in the Minors, I've tried almost every bat company out there. I've used more models than I can remember, made from every possible type of wood, and nothing had stuck out as my perfect bat.

I spent this off-season swinging any bat I could get my hands on. Eager to find a bat to call my own, I wanted to go into next season with a consistent weapon of choice - no more blaming the bat or switching models every time I encounter a slump. I was taking a variable out of the equation of solving any failures at the plate: I know the bat's good- must be my mechanics or timing.
The truth is, I also wanted something unique - something to call my own. There are so many companies out there, I wanted to find a lesser known one that makes a quality product, talk to the owner on the phone, and be associated with that company. It's like choosing Dunder Mifflin over Staples - I want that intimate customer service and familiarity that Louisville Slugger or Rawlings can't offer.

And let's face it - it's cooler to be the only guy swinging a certain brand. You stand out representing a smaller company, not to mention a company like Zorian usually makes a better product than the big names. Every bat that Zorian produces meets their owner's utmost standards - you can't tell me the president of Louisville Slugger is inspecting each of the millions of bats being branded with their company seal.

I like Zorian mainly because I love the feel of their bats. Their DK-1 model is a modification of a 271 handle and an i13 barrel - my two favorite models that I had always previously been forced to choose between.

Plus, Zorian offers their bats in Birch, a wood that's lighter than maple but has the same rock-hard attributes. Their bats swing smooth and I trust them in my hands. In a game that is famously considered "90% mental" - the other half being physical, of course - the importance of comfort and familiarity cannot be overstated.

So their bats got me interested, but why choose Zorian?

Honestly? Because it's a cool name, I like their logo, I'll be unique in the clubhouse, they offer fair prices, and I can call their owner on his cell if I have any questions - that's a pretty appealing mix.

When you take a look at the bat industry, there are tons of good companies out there. The important thing is that you feel comfortable and confident swinging their product - but if you find yourself between two companies, it really does come down to brand appeal and customer service.

It's up to you to do the research and find the bat and company that best fits you.

As for me, I know I'm not just a number when I call in my bat orders, I'm a part of Zorian baseball. What are you a part of?

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1 comment:

  1. I agree with you 100% about all the advantages you have with a small bat company over one of the BIG bat company. I myself never played Pro ball but have been coaching High School Varsity baseball and American Legion baseball in the summer for a lot of years. I was trying to find a wooden bat source for a team of former players I was putting together in a 19+ wooden bat league. I contacted a lot of bat companies to see what kind of deals we could get for a team discount. I settled on Dinger Bat in Ridgeway IL. after talking to Kyle Drone (he and his Dad Randy are partners and owners of Dinger Bat) on the phone. He gave me a great deal on his bats which are Major Leagued approved in Ash, Birch and Maple. He also gave his cell phone number and told me to call him anytime if I needed anything. I thought to myself I'm a nobody and he's treating me like I'm his #1 buyer. Dinger Bats have a lot of Minor League players swinging a Dinger also a few big name Major League players, Hunter Pence (Houston Astros), Blake DeWitt (Chicago Cubs) and Jayson Werth (Washington Nationals). They also make a great fungo bat, I have two of them in Birch.