Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Brett Lawrie: It's all about the wood

It's probably unwise to bore people with Brett Lawrie updates. The B.C.-born Milwaukee Brewers bonus baby might have indirectly fired a salvo in the never-ending debate about wood vs. metal bats (which will be settled the day after we hash out, "Religion: What Is The One True Faith?").
"One advantage Lawrie has over his American counterparts is he has been using a wooden bat for a few years. Most American players use metal bats until they are drafted, making it difficult as they adjust to faster and better pitching. It's also difficult for scouts who project how metal bat players will transition to the professional game. With Lawrie, that wasn't a problem.

" 'It was big for me - using a wood bat at such a young age,” he said. “You really have to get a feel for the sweet spot. You can miss with a metal bat and still hit well. With a wood bat, you can't miss.' "
Lawrie, as you know, already has enough of an adjustment on his hands with the Brewers converting him to second base (no errors since May 9). His .279/.347/.497 batting line is pretty impressive for a 19-year-old playing in the Single-A Midwest League, where most of the players are 21 and 22 years old.

Basically, the argument for using aluminum bats is that it's cost-effective since they don't break. However, they now run up to $400 and often have to be replaced every year or two, while the wood costs $50-120. Amateur players probably don't break bats at as high as a rate as professionals, since both bat and pitch speed is slower.

The B.C. Premier Baseball League, which turned out Lawrie and several other Canadians who are in the minors, uses wood bats. Presumably, they would appreciate their graduate's endorsement of the policy.

And, of course, Brett Lawrie is not the most publicized member of his family this week, since his sister, Danielle Lawrie, was just named the NCAA player of the year by virtue of pitching the Washington Huskies into college softball World Series. She threw 396 pitches in one day during the regionals (and Dusty Baker isn't even her coach).

(Danielle Lawrie has joked with the media about why she dyed her hair from blond to brown, but it's still weird to see a sports story that refers to an athlete as "raven-haired." You wouldn't see that in a story about a dude.)

Fast track; Brewers' prospect Lawrie hopes playing 2nd was the right move (Rob Lucas, Beloit Daily News)

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