The question: Can you tell me the significance of corking a bat? Does it really help a baseball player hit the ball further or harder?
It’s the “year of the pitcher” in baseball, and after the steroid era marred statistics from the past decade of MLB games, people aren’t too unhappy about the reduction in offense.
The steroid era may end up being a black eye on the reputation of Major League Baseball, but another offensive cheating technique continues to make people wonder about what exactly was legitimate from the 80’s, 90’s and early 00’s.
Corking bats, a long-used technique of power hitters, also gained attention during the steroid era. Most notably, former Cub Sammy Sosa — who hit 609 HRs in his career — was found to be using a corked bat when he broke his bat during a June 3, 2003 game.
Sosa said that he mistakenly took a “batting practice bat” to the plate with him, but do corked bats actually provide the bigger bang Sosa was looking for in BP?
There are definitely reasons to believe it does. Of course, replacing a part of the bat reduces the bat’s weight while keeping the appearance of a consistent bat. The reduced weight can allow for a faster swing speed. The placement of the cork also allows for a different center of gravity, which could make it easier to swing a bat, which is designed to be heavier at the end than at the handle.
However, with all the advantages it presents, swinging a lighter bat also means there is less momentum behind each swing. If the swing is made at the same speed, but with a lighter bat, the impact is less effective.
So which affects the swing more; the ability to swing fast, or the mass behind the swing?
It turns out, scientifically, the proposition is a toss-up and at its most basic, corking a bat does not add any real advantage to the average swinger.
In fact, in an episode of Discovery Channel’s “Mythbusters,” the build team took on the myth of whether or not a corked bat added any advantage to a batter.
They discovered that, despite the decades-long usage of the technique, corking your bat can actually have a significantly adverse effect on your ability to hit the ball further.
A bat of Pete Rose was recently x-rayed and found to have a nickle-wide piece of a foreign material in it.
Since 1970, six players have been caught with a corked bat on the field:
- Sammy Sosa, Cubs 2003
- Wilton Guerrero, Dodgers 1997
- Chris Sabo, Reds 1996
- Albert Belle, Indians 1994
- Billy Hatcher, Astros 1987
- Graig Nettles, Yankees 1974
And the suspension that each one of the six served seems to have been served for nothing at all…
Thanks for the question!