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The cost to buy a baseball bat nowadays can range wildly, from modestly priced big-brand staples, on up to exotic or high-tech bats priced well into 3 figures. It might come natural, when a person sees the prices, to wonder how much does it cost to make a baseball bat?
The cost of making a baseball bat depends on many factors, including whether it is made of wood, or not. Wood-bat production costs are around $60 to $80 for each stick and could be higher depending on the quality of wood used. Non-wood, or metal, bats can cost as little as $12.50 to produce according to some reports.
Wood bats typically cost more to make, because of the need for quality wood to boost performance and prevent breakage. On the flip side, some of the higher-end metal bats involve considerable research and development, which adds to the cost of bat manufacturing. For metal bats, you could start with the retail cost, then cut it in half or a third, and you can get a general idea of how much it cost to make it.
Rising Cost of Wood Billets
Major League Baseball bats today are made from very high-quality ash or maple woods. Wood bat manufacturing starts with a wood billet, or a long tube of wood that will be whittled away on a lathe to shape it into a single-piece wood bat. Lathe workers cut away unneeded wood parts to shape the barrel, the thinner handle, and the knob at the end.
The cost of quality wood billets has skyrocketed the past two decades, up to about $40 per billet today. That means, before the manufacturer even begins to craft a single bat, it costs the company $40.
For major league bats, manufacturers usually set aside the highest-quality billets, those with heavier weights or more straight grains, because bats made from them tend to be more solid, for performance and durability.
Then tack on engineering, research, burning in the logo and signatures (if applicable), and the all-important finish, and you can easily see the best wood baseball bats going for $150 or more retail.
Metal Bats and Markups
For some reason, manufacturers tend to really mark up metal bats. That is, place a price on them in retail sales beyond the cost of creating the item.
There are baseball bat enthusiasts who are convinced that metal bats on the market for $400 today cost only $12.50 to make.
A softball bat expert says those metal bats cost the manufacturer at least $25 to $28 each to make. That would be for materials cost and the manufacturing process. Then tack on costs for research, designs, advertising, logistics, and more, and the costs of production get a bit closer in line with the final cost on the shelves at sporting goods stores.
Basically for metal bats, they retail for about 2 or 3 times the actual cost of producing it. Perhaps this is related to demand, because way more baseball and softball players use metal bats compared with wood bats, which are typically only used in the major and minor leagues. College players in particular use a lot of metal bats.
There’s a reason why they still allow metal bats in college play: cost. The schools cannot afford to keep replacing broken wood bats (nor the higher prices for them), so they go with aluminum which is less likely to break during mis-hits.
Baseball bats cost much less to produce than the prices you see in stores or online. While that’s pretty typical for any retail product, questions sometimes arise regarding metal baseball bats, their high prices, and the actual cost to produce them.
Wood bat manufacturing costs are heavily influenced by the often rising cost of quality wood stock.
Question: How much would it cost if, say, a woodworking class made a baseball bat?
Answer: Best estimate is $70 to $80 per bat, again dependent upon the quality of the billets used.
Q.: How much profit do bat-makers make selling bats to MLB players?
A.: One company reported a 15% profit margin selling its bats to professionals, compared with 20% for bats sold retail to the general public. There are reasons for this, especially the value of help with marketing a bat when it’s used by pros.
Q.: Aren’t most pro bats made of pine?
A.: No, pine is used in baseball mainly on benches in the dugouts or in the stands. Just kidding, there are some pine bats. For a very long time, ash was the wood of choice for MLB sticks. In fact, the popular Adirondack baseball model is named for the mountains in upstate New York where that wood is plentiful.
However, by the 1990s some sluggers, notably Barry Bonds, started using maple bats. The thought is, maple is more dense than ash, and therefore harder. Some players believe those maple bats strike the baseball harder upon contact. Probably about half of today’s major leaguers use maple bats.
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