No matter the league, baseball is always an incredibly competitive sport.
Players of all ages put in a tremendous amount of effort and dedication to be able to get on the field and compete at a high level.
Even with all that hard work, winners and losers are often determined by the slightest of margins.
So, it’s no wonder that players look for any edge they can find, often doing things that border with illegal.
We all know that pitchers sometimes doctor the balls to throw fast and deceiving pitches.
Hitters also have ways to alter their equipment to improve performance, including using rolled or shaved bats.
Hitting a home run is not easy and many players tamper with their bats to make balls fly higher and further.
Below, I’ll take a closer look at these bat adjustments and explain how to tell if a bat is rolled or shaved.
So, let’s dive in!
How to Tell if a Bat is Rolled or Shaved?
These modifications are rarely visible to the naked eye, so it’s often difficult to know if a player is using a tampered bat.
Still, there are ways to tell if a player has been using a rolled or a shaved bat.
How to Know if a Bat has been Rolled?
It’s often said that a properly rolled bat can’t be detected.
Those who are in the business of rolling bats often advertise their services this way, guaranteeing that no umpire will be able to tell that your bat has been altered.
In case when rolling wasn’t performed perfectly, the biggest tell-signs are the roller marks along the length of the bat.
In addition, not applying an equal amount of pressure on the whole surface of the bat, the finish or the paint may get a spider-web look.
Big barrel bats are especially hard to roll, and often come out with ridges that can be felt by hand.
Often, peeled-off graphics and labels can give away that the bat has been tampered with.
This is especially the case in areas where the bat meets the end of a roller. Also, the roller itself can sometimes leave residue on the bat surface.
How to Know if a Bat has been Shaved?
As bat shaving involves thinning the inside walls of a composite bat, the first thing you can do is inspect the end cap.
Badly done bat shaving can often leave marks on the cap.
However, more experienced and skilled providers of this service will leave the cap in its original state.
In that case, you can remove the cap and examine the inside wall of the bat.
The more reliable, but also more expensive way to check the bat for shaving is by using the compression tester.
These devices will indicate that the bat has too low compression which is a sure sign that it’s been modified.
Alternatively, you can measure the bat’s weight. If it weighs less than its stated weight, then it’s likely been shaved.
Also, more experienced umpires and coaches can tell that the bat has been altered by the sound it makes when hitting a ball.
Shaved Bat vs Rolled Bat – What’s the Difference?
When done properly, both shaving and rolling can improve the performance of the bat. However, these two methods will not provide the same result.
The rolled bat will provide batters with an additional 20-40 feet of average distance.
Shaved bat provides even more boost with 50-70 extra feet.
As these two tampering methods involve different processes, they may have different consequences to the state of your bat.
Shaving is a more delicate process.
It involves removing the cap, shaving off the inner bat wall, and then gluing the cap back on. Performed badly, it can ruin your bat.
Rolling is less intrusive and doesn’t involve adding or removing any material. Therefore, it’s safer for bats and more difficult to detect.
Shaving, while producing a better performance, will decrease the bat’s durability.
Rolling, which actually serves to break all the bat parts equally, will make your bat last longer.
The Benefits of Bat Rolling and Bat Shaving
Both bat rolling and shaving are used because they provide various benefits for the players and help them perform better.
Below are the main advantages of these two methods of doctoring bats.
Bat Rolling Benefits
The pressure applied to the bat during rolling extends the fibers and makes them more flexible.
This increases the trampoline effect and provides greater distance on the hit
Increased Sweet Spot
Optimized fibers also make the sweet spot on the bat much larger.
The area that provides the maximum trampoline effect is bigger than on the regular bats.
No Dead Spots on the Used Bats
Rolling is also beneficial for used bats.
The process of applying equal pressure on the whole surface of the bat removes the dead spots on which the bat’s performance drops.
By rolling the bat, you can have it game-ready right from the start.
There’s no need to spend time breaking it in.
Bat Shaving Benefits
Shaved bat will improve your hitting both in distance and in speed.
By creating an increased trampoline effect, the shaved bat will transform more of the swing energy and make the hit more efficient.
Shaving reduces the swing weight of the bat which is especially important for young players as it helps them make better contact and have a smoother swing.
Larger Sweet Spot
Just like rolling, shaving also makes the sweet spot on your bat bigger.
It’s estimated that shaving can increase the sweet spot by up to 40%.
Is Bat Rolling and Bat Shaving Illegal?
Most leagues and competitions have rather strict rules about altering bats. However, most rules don’t explicitly mention shaving or rolling.
They usually state that any treatment or device used to enhance the bat’s performance is illegal.
However, while bat shaving is definitely illegal in all leagues, the bat rolling leaves some room for a debate.
As every bat is rolled by the manufacturer before being put up for sale, one could argue that the rolling process done after the purchase should be declared legal.
Both bat shaving and rolling essentially serve the same purpose. Enhance the bat performance and help batters hit the ball better.
Still, many view this method as a means of getting an unfair advantage over other players.
Like many things in baseball, using tampered bats mostly comes down to personal preference and one’s ethics.
Whether you used a doctored bat or not, you should be aware that getting caught using it can have serious consequences.
Depending on the rules of the league in question, you could be ejected from the game or even suspended for a long period, or even the whole season.