Pros: Maple is a very dense wood, which tends to make it one of the best species to use for wood bats. Density is directly related to hardness and durability. The denser the wood used to make a bat, the more durable a bat will be and the more pop it will have. Also, maple is a close-grain wood which will hold together under high intensity impact. Maple has the hardest surface of the three major species of wood typically used to manufacture wood bats.
Cons: Maple is a rigid, sturdy wood and tends to be less forgiving (& more prone to breakage) than ash and birch when striking the baseball off the end of the bat or near the trademark.
Pros: Before maple bats became popular, most traditional wood bats were made of ash. Ash is more flexible than maple, which many players believe allows them to “whip” the barrel through the hitting zone creating more bat speed. Due to this flexibility ash also, tends to be more forgiving than maple when striking the baseball off the end of the bat or near the trademark.
Cons: Ash is an open-grain wood that will continue to dry out during the life span of the bat. This will cause the grains on ash bats to flake and splinter. Hitting off the face grain (the grain where to logo is placed) will also cause the bat to flake and splinter. Ash is not the best choice for players who are less experienced using wood bats.
Pros: Yellow birch is closer in strength to maple than ash, yet still provides some of the “flex” of an ash wood bat. Birch is more forgiving than maple when striking the baseball off the end of the bat or near the trademark. Like maple, birch is also a curly grain wood which lends it to be more durable when making repetitive contact with the baseball in the same area of the bat. In this sense, birch holds together similarly to maple. Birch bats will not flake apart like ash bats and are a particularly good choice for less experienced wood bat swingers.
Cons: Most birch bats will need to have a “break-in” period in order for the bat to harden as a result of repetitive impact from hitting the baseball. The surface hardness of a new birch bat is not as hard as a new maple bat which may slightly decrease exit speeds.