How to Choose A Bat
Over the past year I've collected a lot of my reader's questions about how to choose a bat and put my answers to their questions so that it might help you when you need help choosing a bat.
There are many questions that concern choosing a bat for baseball, fastpitch softball or men's, women's, or co-ed slo-pitch softball.
They range from how to choose a bat for a 5 year old to a 55 year old, in all sizes and shapes and at all skill levels, in all areas and temperatures, by specific brands and choice of swing styles to the amount to spend and many others.
Read them all and they should give you enough information to answer any questions you have. If not, feel free to contact me at the end of the page. Or better yet, sign up for my free newsletter where we talk about all aspects of hitting.
Here are the questions and answers I've received and sent out:
How to Choose a Bat - Oct 24 01:09:18 2007
Q: 2008 EASTON SCN8B SYNERGY bb that i want. but we play co-ed sb. is there a difference with the bats? they both look the same to me. thanks jess
A: While the bats might look the same, your league will judge them very differently, making the baseball bat illegal in the softball league for sure and maybe even the other way around.
You need to have the words "Approved by (insert the approving organization here)" on the bat. This can be organizations like ASA for softball, some baseball organizations, etc. The leagues will specify what it needs to have on the bats to make them legal in their league.
Normally baseball bats are a little larger in the barrel than softball rules allow, even if it's just 1/8".
How to Choose a Bat - Sep 25 12:05:04 2007
Q: My husband is 5'5" has a 32 inch sleeve length, is very strong and muscular. He likes a doubled walled aluminum bat for slow pitch mens' softball. What length and weight would you recommend to choose a bat for him as a surprise from his sports dummy wife?
A: While I admire the gesture, there are too many factors to get it right. If you want my best guess so that you can buy it from a sports store where they will take a return on it if he wants something else, then I would say 34" 26 oz. bat. Again, I wouldn't do it if they won't let him return it.
How to Choose a Bat - 25 Sep 2007, 02:35:19 AM
Q: how can you tell the diff between end loaded or even weighted bats We are very GRatefull for your tips and instructions, keep up the good work. GOD BLESS
A: The answer your end loaded bat question. These are bats that are manufactured with the weight out at the end of the bat. They are designed that way to take advantage of the rotational force when you're "weed whacking" it whips more into the swing. Evenly loaded bats don't do this as the weight is distributed evenly.
You'll notice this when you're gripping for a bunt. The way I do that is to find the balance point of the bat as to where to grip the top hand on the bat. With the endloaded bat the balance point will be further up the barrel.
How to Choose a Bat - Sep 16 09:59:50 2007
Q: I need to know how to choose a bat. What size softball bat does my girl need? height 57" WEIGHT 105 POUNDS. From the ground to her hip bone is 32.5". 11years old. she is using an easton reflex sx 60B 31" 19.5oz 2anquater dia. 14"bar. 7050 alloy. i think the bat is to much for her. holds the bat out to the side 15 sec. start shaking. she plays AAU ball.
A: There's nothing on the surface that shouts out at me that this is the wrong bat, but she should be able to hold it out a little longer.
Maybe just reps off a tee will make it feel more comfortable, or maybe it needs a tweak or two from a hitting coach.
How to Choose a Bat - Sep 01 19:40:33 2007
Q: What's the diff between a composite , aluminum, and a double walled bat?
A: I'm going to let this website help you http://www.kettering.edu/~drussell/bats-new/compalum.html As it is written on the Physics and Acoustics of Baseball & Softball Bats by Daniel A. Russell of the Science & Mathematics Department, Kettering University, Flint, MI under the title "Are Composite Bats better than Aluminum Bats?" It also covers double wall bats, which are just bats with a wall within a wall of the bat.
How to Choose a Bat - Aug 27 19:52:02 2007
Q: I’m 12 and baseball is about to start i have a bat that’s 29 in. long and I’m comfortable with it. should I use it or choose a bat that's 30 inches?
A: Eventually as you grow you should be swinging longer bats, so now may be a good time, but maybe you can wait until spring if you are hitting well with your 29.
How to Choose a Bat - Aug 23 12:09:26 2007
Q: My 12 year old ( 5'3" 115 lb) daughter has been playing fastpitch softball for a couple of years and is now trying out for a select team. She needs a new bat and likes her friend’s bat that is 33" 21 oz. Is that a good size for her? Thanks for your help.
A: Have you seen her swing the friend's bat? Does it look good? I personally wouldn't have a problem recommending that bat if she could swing it well. A lot of coaches would probably say the bat is a little big for her, but again I would say it depends on her swing more than anything else.
How to Choose a Bat - Jul 24 02:13:53 2007
Q: My 13y/o daughter has recently taken interest in softball. I am trying to find a bat that is appropriate for her, both weight and length. Is there a rule of thumb as far as the length of the bat? Thanks for your help
A: There are really so many variables when you choose a bat, that I'd hate to give you one at the moment. I'd rather see her borrow a team bat or from a teammate until she knows what feels comfortable.
If she's a quick learner, what would feel right to her now should feel different in a few months, so that's why I'd hate to suggest something right away. After she gets a little better, her learning curve will slow down so you can get the right bat for her.
How to Choose a Bat - Aug 08 14:53:43 2007
Q: what do you know about miken slowpitch softball bats
A: What I know about Miken's are they have a very good reputation in the community around here. So unsure, what else you're asking with it. I know some fastpitch players that are starting to use Miken slowpitch bats for their game to good success.
How to Choose a Bat - Aug 06 23:30:46 2007
Q: I am starting in a softball league and need to know the best bat for my height and budget. I am female, 5'8 and I would like to spend about $100.00 Thank You
A: There are still too many variables to make an informed decision, like is it for slo-pitch or fastpitch, how long have you been playing, what is your preferred swing style, what are others in your league using, etc.
A good tip can be that a number of the bats will be going on sale at Big 5 and Sports Authority as it's the off season, so what you might have gotten for $100, may now be $50. Or you might get a model that's getting upgraded, but you can get last year's model for $100 that was a $189 - $249 bat.
I'd go with what feels the best when you swing it, especially if others in your league are using it.
How to Choose a Bat - Jul 11 08:46:45 2007
Q: my bat of choice for the last few years has been the demarini fatboy. 26 ounces. i have now got a dent in this bat. due to the age of this model it is hard to find a replacement. what would you suggest as a good replacement? bear in mind i'm 6'4 and 300 pounds. how does this bat compare to the string of newer bats?
A: Here are a couple of suggestions I have for you on how to choose a bat. One is that if they have a 2nd hand sporting goods store (we have ones called "Play it Again, Sports") then you may just find the same bat as you were used to. The other is to go to http://buysoftball360.com/index.asp?PageAction=Custom&ID=14 and see what bat the big boppers use. It appears at this writing, the Miken is in first, followed by DeMarini, then Easton, and Worth.
How to Choose a Bat - Jul 08 12:12:03 2007
Q: I have recently viewed your web page during my search for a new softball bat. I was hoping you could give me some help and suggestions for this important decision.
I am an average player. 5'-10" 185 lbs and play summer weekend and spring league softball. The summer league uses Clinchers and the spring league uses Dudley balls. I need this bat to perform well with both scenarios. I am currently using a Miken Maniac Titan model MSMC-2 34" 28oz , but I am not hitting it very well.
I was able to narrow my search to the following three bats but I am open to additional suggestions. Can you advise which one of the bats is most forgiving and best for the weekend warrior !!
- DeMarini Juggernaut - Easton Stealth CNT + - Easton Synergy Flex CNT - Combat Antivirus - Open for your suggestions !!
Thanks again for your help.
A: Thanks for valuing my opinion, but I'm going to have to admit, I'm more into the mechanics of the swing and feel the bat that feels the best for you probably has the best chance of having the most hits and home runs in it.
If you look at softball360.com you see the biggest boppers in the world and they swing what ever their sponsor pays them to swing with. I really don't think they would perform much differently if they traded bats. In fact, from week to week, a different bat comes in first, just by how the hitter's hitting in that contest.
Sorry I can't be of more help, or maybe I have been.
How to Choose a Bat - Jun 22 11:42:43 2007
Q: I want to choose a bat for a 10 year old girl, 5 foot tall, 106 lbs, athletic built - plays fast pitch softball. What type, size, weight is recommended and how will i know when choosing. Any tips?
A: I don't have enough information to give you a good answer.
Probably the best guide at that age is to see what the majority of her teammates are using as there are too many factors to know everything from afar. Things, like years of play, swing type, how influenced she is by "cool" looking bats, how much she practices, what temperatures the games are played in when the season starts and ends, et al.
How to Choose a Bat - Jun 13 17:48:49 2007
Q: Andy, i get your hitting tips and the information is very good. do you reccomend any bats for a linear style hitter vs a Rotational style hitter. is a end loaded bat better for rotational hitting. let me know
A: You're exactly right, the end loaded bats were designed with the rotational swing in mind, whereas the really lightweight evenly distributed bats are for the linear swing (the -11's, -12's, -13's).
How to Choose a Bat - Jun 11 09:45:04 2007
Q: Can I play softball with a baseball bat? Does a baseball bat give me any advantage playing softball?
A: Yes, a baseball bat would give you an advantage in playing with it in a softball game due to it's dimensions, which is why it's illegal to use one playing softball (the answer to your first question).
There was an interesting league I played in years and years ago that allowed them, but it was called overhand softball and it was played on a Pony League field, 75 foot bases, lead offs like real baseball, all types of bats were legal, the pitch was from a windup or the stretch (with all the inherent balk rules from baseball), stealing, overhand pitching using a softball. It was fun, but that was the only place I've seen baseball bats used in conjunction with a game called softball.
Plus all bats used in softball must be stamped with a "softball approved bat" label.
How to Choose a Bat - Jun 02 20:17:54 2007
Q: i am sixteen. i play fast pitch softball, i am 5'2 i weigh a 125 pounds. i have two bats:one is 32 in 23 oz 15" barrel 2 1/4 dia. the other is 33in 23 oz 2 1/4 dia 16 bar. do these seem good?
A: They sound fine to me. The fact that you felt like you had to ask for an opinion tells me that you're either not hitting, or not hitting as well as you'd like, so you're checking to see if it's the bat. If that's true, then what it also tells me that you're not going up to the plate with confidence, which is a mental thing, not a physical thing (such as the bat). Work on enough practice swings to get the confidence back and step up to bat thinking "I worry about the pitcher having to face me" :)
How to Choose a Bat - May 31 15:17:35 2007
Q: I'm 31 years old playing on a co-ed softball team. I think all of the bats on the team are too heavy and I'm not hitting as well as I did when I was younger with my own bat. I just don't know what kind and size to buy. I'm 5'3 and about 118 lbs.
A: Most of the team's bats are probably slo-pitch bats, normally with men in mind, so what you may want to do is go to the fastpitch bats for girls and women and see what you find there. It's not illegal to do this, by the way.
The lightest men's bat is 25 or 26 ounces in a 34" bat. You can find 34"-24 or even 23 and 22 ounce bats on the fastpitch side. And where you can hardly ever find a 32 or 33" slo-pitch bat, you can easily find them on the fastpitch side (plus, some of them come in pink, just to tork off the macho men on your team or in the league :)
How to Choose a Bat - May 30 18:05:07 2007
Q: I play 14inch slow pitch softball. Some people have said that if I use a lighter bat, I will be able to swing faster, hit farther. I really don't have much upper body strength; no clue if that is a factor in hitting. I have also heard that with 14inch, I should use a heavier bat since the ball is heavier. What is your opinion? I am using a 34inch bat now, unsure of the weight but it feels too heavy. Thank you!
A: They are right, swinging a lighter bat does generate more bat speed, which in turn helps it go farther.
The good news about the upper body strength, is that the real key is using proper mechanics (which we teach on the website), and a large part of that is using the lower part of the body to generate our power.
How to Choose a Bat - May 20 20:24:58 2007
Q: I need to know what to look for in a bat for my nine year old. She plays with girls 10-14 with a pitching machine and some live arm. I think she needs about a 30 inch bat but very light. What is the lightest softball bat at this length? Also, any other suggestions to increase the speed of her bat swing?
A: They have bats that are -13 which means, for a 30 inch bat it would weigh 17 ounces. That actually may be too light for her as many bat manufacturers are making heavier bats more common.
They are doing this realizing that many batters are increasing their bat speed with hitting mechanics, not just bat weight alone.
To get better mechanics, I'd suggest this page
How to Choose a Bat - May 18 11:29:25 2007
Q: Is there a list of illegal bats, or bats that won’t be allowed at tournaments for little leagues. We have a 12 year old boys travel team.
A: All of the bats need to say Little League approved for an official Little League Tournament. Definitely no big barrel bats.
Many bats also have all the divisions they support on the bat itself.
Otherwise it should be spelled out in the tournament rules with the packet you'd get.
I don't know of a website that does have everything you're looking for.
How to Choose a Bat - May 08 20:38:18 2007
Q: My 14-year-old daughter is in her 5th year of softball. This year she started hitting! She's been using a composite bat 34/24. She swings REALLY fast. Her biggest problem has been swinging ahead of the ball, but this year with this longer lighter bat she has become one of the most consistent hitters on her high school JV team. Now, here's my question(s): Is it the bat? I really don't want her to be dependent on a bat though. How can she become a better batter with any bat?
A: Since she's hitting well, I wouldn't want to change anything with her bat. What's probably happening is one of two things. Either she's seeing more changeups than she's ever been used to at the higher level or maybe she's a higher level than the bulk of the JV kids and is struggling with their slower pitching than her varsity pitchers and/or elite team players.
She does need to crush those pitches before she's considered a great hitter though, so she'll just need to keep practicing timing. Going into the cages from fast to slow and back again, and hit them all with authority.
How to Choose a Bat - May 04 08:43:17 2007
Q: I am considering purchasing a "DeMarini" softball bat for my 11 year old daughter. She is an excellent 4th year player, standing 4'10" and weighs 68 pounds. What do you think of this particular bat; and, what size bat do you recommend?
A: The DeMarini is fine. They were a company that was bought out by Wilson, which makes fine softball bats. The DeMarini name stands for a pursuit of excellence in softball hitting, instilled by their founder, Ray DeMarini, who died in the last few years and sold the company to Wilson prior to his death.
It's hard to say the exact measurements. Before you choose a bat I'd have her swing some of her teammate’s bats and you should be able to tell which looks the best or she can tell you which feels the best. Probably in the 27 to 30" range.
How to Choose a Bat - May 02 11:41:28 2007
Q: My daughter just started playing softball. She is using a bat that seems to light for her, therefore she is swinging fast. She is 4'8" tall and weighs 95 lbs. What size softball bat should I get for her?
A: Let me make one thing clear. She can never swing the bat too fast. That's always a good thing. That having been said, if you can swing a heavier bat at the same swing speed, that's even better.
It sounds like she is in the 30"ish bat length and anywhere from 18 - 22 ounces. Whatever feels best to her.
How to Choose a Bat - Apr 22 20:06:04 2007
Q: whats the right bat size for you?
A: There are a lot of considerations before picking the right bat, such as age, size, years played, type of hitter (power hitter, line drive hitter, or base hitter), and bat speed. There are others too.
The best way is to swing the bats (in a perfect world even practice or use them in a game) to see which one feels the best to you and which produces the best results.
Borrow some from your teammates.
If the bat wars come to your area (check their website) they'll let you try a number of the latest bats. www.batwars.com They have different times and places devoted specifically to fastpitch softball, baseball and Slo-Pitch Softball.
How to Choose a Bat - Apr 13 12:10:25 2007 (Two similar questions with the same answer)
Q: I need to know what is the right length and weight for my daughter’s softball bat? She is about seventy four pounds and 52 inches tall. She is seven. I got her a 28in bat and 18 ounces and the coach said that that bat was too heavy. I do not want to have to spend a lot of money on a youth baseball bat. I found her that bat at Wal Mart. Can you tell me what would be the best size to buy in length and weight and how much of a big difference is it if you buy it a ounce higher or lower? Thank you for your help.
Q: I like to know what kind of softball bat i need. I'm 37 year old lengtsize is 173meter. I throw with my right hand.
A: There are a number of factors to consider. At that age there are 25 and 26" bats, that are 2 - 3 ounces lighter that shouldn't cost too much either ($10 - $25) and since kids feel like the coaches are all knowledgeable, that may be all she needs, since it's mostly in her head.
If she's convinced that she can hit with her current bat, she probably could, but if it isn't too much, sometimes the aggravation isn't worth the effort in fighting a coach who's already made up their minds as to what's needed.
How to Choose a Bat - Apr 07 18:08:07 2007
Q: do heavier bats increase the power of a hitter?
A: The short answer is a qualified "Yes, if you can swing it quickly".
Since the formula talks about mass times velocity squared we see that the velocity is the most important ingredient, so it might appear that the answer would be no, but if you can swing the bat with the same velocity, then the heavier bat (the one with more mass) would make it go farther, but only then. So keep focusing on velocity first.
How to Choose a Bat - Mar 12 22:49:14 2007
Q: I am at the point of being ready to make a good bat purchase for my daughter who is going to be 12 years old in May. She is 4'10" and weights about 91 lbs. She was using a 30 in/20 oz. bat. I just purchased her a Demarini Medusa that is 31 in/19 oz. She says it feels a tiny bit heavier than the old bat, but her swing feels comfortable. Please help, I don’t want to spend all that money on the wrong size bat.
A: I'm not quite sure if you're writing to ask about a new bat or what to do with this new one you just wrote about.
As far as the Demarini goes, you've already told me it is lighter, so that isn't the issue. It may have to do with the extra length and possibly the weight is more out toward the barrel, so it feels like it's heavier.
That will take just getting used to, so I'd get her some lessons so her swing is mechanically sound and she should be able to swing that one just fine.
Hope that is what you were looking for.
Let me know if it wasn't.
How to Choose a Bat - Mar 08 14:10:13 2007
Q: I would like to know if this is true. My daughter who’s just gotten on the high school jv softball team wants to choose a bat and she say it has to be up to her waist to the ground and i think is to big for her... No men here to help...so please help thank you
A: I've actually never heard that one and like a lot of tales like this, there's probably an element of truth to it and also exceptions to the rule.
Having coached at that level I know girls with long legs and some with long torsos, so just on that alone I think you'd have a problem, but if we look at the waist as being the mid point, a girl 5'4" would be 64 inches tall and thus use a 32" bat, which would be about right, but this breaks down for any tall girls, as the longest bat allowed is only 34" and a 4'10" girl would be using a bat many 10 year olds use.
A better way is seeing what they can swing comfortably. Some coaches prefer that girls use shorter bats, based on their opinion they can control them better. Other coaches (of which I would be one) tend to like to have the batters use as long a bat as they can swing well, so they get that extra plate coverage and the longer bat creates more whip to generate a stronger swing/hit.
How to Choose a Bat - Mar 08 12:53:16 2007
Q: I have 2 daughters ages 11 & 13 who have played softball since they were 4 years old. My youngest had difficulties last year hitting which hasn't been a problem before. My question is her bat. I noticed she was dropping her shoulders when she was swinging causes her to swing not to be level. We changed bats during the state championship game to a lighter bat and her swing was still off. Do you have a suggestion of what to do for her? We are starting softball this week and I want her to feel better this year about hitting and have the correct bat. She's always been a star hitter up until last year.
A: You have an interesting dilemma, as there are 2 swing types, one actually wants you to dip your shoulder, so it may not be the bat's fault, but swing style. With the style I just mentioned (Rotational), there is a tendency to use a heavier bat as well.
But it sounds like they've been taught the traditional softball swing (Linear) where a lighter bat it in order.
But don't forget, they've both grown over that year, so what may have been "too heavy" before, may be just right now.
I would concentrate on getting good coaching first, then see what bat suits them.
I have a video that you might want to get that shows how to hit each style the best they can, so you could decide what was best for them. Plus it will help them have better swings and thus help you determine
how to choose a bat that will be best for them later.
How to Choose a Bat - Mar 07 11:35:36 2007
Q: My daughter is getting ready to try out for 8th grade fast-pitch softball. She played ball from ages 5 - 9 but not since. What size bat do you recommend for her to use during tryouts? Is there a height requirement, weight, or other criteria you'd suggest?
A: There are so many factors that I can't cover them all. I'd say, unless all the girls coming to tryouts have their own bats, I'd have her use the team's bats and just have her try a few and see which feels the best and she can swing the quickest.
If you feel she has to have one, I'd find it the same way. Go to the sporting goods store, swing a few that look the coolest and see which feels the best and she can swing the quickest.
There are no requirements of any kind that the bat manufacturers would try to make an illegal bat. You may need to check in her league if it has to have an official stamp on it (normally for softball it will say ASA approved). Also your league may not let you use little league (baseball) bats.
How to Choose a Bat - Feb 26 16:53:17 2007
Q: In Mass. youth bball season temps 40-80*. Need good bat for son, small 13,avg hitter. Gramma bought an EastonCOMP LT250-12, afraid to let him use- fear damage from balls in cold. Minimum hand sting & balanced important. Specific suggestions Please. THANKYOU!!
A: I'm sorry I won't have specifics for you as there are many factors involved, but generally the less expensive bats are less prone to denting from the cold as they are made out of more readily avaiable materials and aren't stretched as much leaving thinner walls.
But then they tend to be a little heavier as well (-9 to -11 range). So this could be his winter bat and then his practice (cage bat) when it warms up.
How to Choose a Bat - Feb 22 18:12:06 2007
Q: I have an 11 year old son who is very tall and thin, 5'5", 120 lbs, and not particularly strong. He is, however, pretty well coordinated and pretty good player. He was successful last year with a 30" 17 ounce stealth. I know to go to a 31 inch bat this year, but should we stay real light with an 18 ounce or move up to a 20/21 ounce bat? Most of what I've read says lighter is good for short term results, but heavier for developing a good swing, etc. What do you think?
A: Let me answer your question this way. My 10 year old who is 5' tall and weighs 85 lbs swings a 31" 22 oz bat.
If you'll notice on my pages there is the talk about 2 types of swings. The lighter bats are made for the "linear" swing, where the heavier bats that are even end loaded are made for the "rotational" swing.
You need to pick the swing first, master the swing so there aren't remnants of the other swing in the swing you've chosen, then pick the bat.
Here's a link for more on the 2 swings.
How to Choose a Bat - Feb 22 12:38:57 2007
Q: I have been out of baseball for about 7 years while in the military and have a question about bats. I am playing on a MSBL team and that requires a -3 bat. I am not familiar with all the changes to bats now days. Is there anything I should really focus on when choosing a new bat at this point in my life besides price and weight?
A: I too haven't kept up on the adult level baseball, as I coach a few adults, but mostly 18 & under.
But the same things hold true I'm sure. That is, generally the more expensive the bat the better it is, as it's using all the latest technology and that's what is driving up the price. There is a caveat to expensive bats and that is they are susceptible to denting in cold weather if that's a potential issue for you.
If you can hold out a little bit, the best way is to go, is to go to a few practices and even games and see what the better hitters are using, it normally is the bat of choice for a reason.
Also, the major brands are normally competitive with one another so the old names still apply, Louisville Slugger, Easton, Worth, with a few new ones thrown in.
How to Choose a Bat - Feb 08 15:12:46 2007
Q: How do I choose a bat for my 5 yr old daughter? This is her first yr.
A: For a 5 year old I'd get the lightest bat out there. There are a number of new pink bats that are about 25 inches and 15 ounces for less than $30. There's no need to invest in a really expensive bat at this time. There's plenty of time for that :)
I'd just make it as fun as possible. A bat like I recommended should help do that.
How to Choose a Bat - 24 Jan 2007, 05:36:07 PM
Q: Hi Coach Andy, A few months ago you gave me tips on how to get my wife Nina to decide swing or not. Now that the snow has melted and the rain is warmer here in the Pacific Northwest we're ready to go and start practicing what you suggested.
I have been reading about slow pitch bats, thinking that maybe a better bat would also be a benefit. Nina doesn't think that a $300 bat would make that much of a difference, so our compromise is to ask you for advice.
One thing I've read is "broken" bat after 800 swings. How does an aluminum bat break when you hit a softball? Is the more expensive bat better than one that is correct lenth and weight or comfortable feel? Last season some of the bats we used felt like hitting a brick instead of a soft ball, what does that indicate?
Why would someone bother to count how many swings you get from a bat? It seems that if you buy a bat it should be counted in years not swings.
We hope you are doing well, we haven't seen any new tips lately.
Thanks for your advice and continued tips.
A: Thanks for writing again. I'm a few days from a new newsletter. It's mostly all written.
The $300 bats are for the people who can tell the difference and notice the difference in their batting averages or in the distance that they hit the ball. Without proper mechanics, a good eye, or the ability to pull the trigger at the right time, your wife is right, there isn't enough of a difference to justify that expense. You can find some stuff on sale in the $80 range that would be quite good. (Send me the other $220 :)
Seriously, the more expensive bats are the ones that wear out with the number of swings, since the walls of the bat are generally thinner to get the lighter weight and the "trampoline effect" and thus they can dent, especially in the colder temperatures and they lose their pop after so many swings (it looks like you found a source that said it was 800). Since it's metal there is no aging, it's just wear and tear (metal fatigue) due to use.
I generally don't count swings, I just feel that the bat is not responding like it used to.
If I haven't answered your question on how to choose a bat, feel free to ask me a question in the box below.
And don't forget to signup for my free hitting newsletter with more information about choosing a bat as well as other hitting and coaching issues in baseball and softball.