Tom Vilsack, the US Agriculture Secretary, announced yesterday that baseball bats are breaking 50% less often than they did five season ago thanks to a combined effort between Major League Baseball and the US Forest Service.
The cause of the decrease is the grain of the wood used. Bats made out of maple have more “slanted” grain, which lessens their structural integrity and makes them more prone to shattering. Using more straight-grained wood, like Ash, makes for a stronger bat.
According to the official report, there was a league average of about one broken bat per game back in 2008, but the number has dropped down to only .46 broken bats per game in 2013. Mike Teevan, a spokesman for Major League Baseball, spoke about the progress (via Reuters): “Multi-piece bat failures represented one of our foremost concerns. We are very encouraged that the incidence rate on those has essentially been cut in half.”
Broken bats can be very dangerous for players and fans alike. A man sued the New York Mets in 2010 after he suffered multiple fractures in his face from a bat broken by Luis Castillo. Tyler Colvin of the Chicago Cubs was hurt in 2010 when a shard of a shattered maple bat struck him square in the chest.