We have a lot of tools in the world of baseball to help us get better. When it comes to fielding, few tools are as useful as the fungo bat—a fun little bat with a fun little name.
Fungo bats are used by coaches to hit grounders fly balls for fielding practice. Made out of wood or metal, the best fungo bats are substantially lighter than a traditional game bat. This lighter weight makes it easier to hit more balls more often. You can toss the ball up with one hand, while still controlling the fungo bat in the other hand.
What Makes for a Good Fungo Bat?
Reputable fungo manufacturers focus on proper weight to best balance ease of swing with durability. With some wood fungo bat manufacturers, the focus is on moving out pieces of wood they can’t use otherwise, which shortchanges the purchaser.
An easy way to detect the difference when searching for the best fungo bat is to see if the drop weight (length - drop weight = weight in ounces) or actual weight for a stated length is listed. If it is not listed, you are likely getting an improperly weighted fungo.
At Phoenix, we only use the finest of the finest of woods available. We use the same wood for our pro bats as we do for everything else. When you buy a Phoenix bat, you know it’s good stuff.
We suggest a fungo for hitting fly balls and ground balls that is a -12 drop weight. As an example, a 34” fungo (the most popular length) would be 22 ounces.
Is Wood or Metal Better for Fungo Bats?
The best material for a fungo bat (wood or metal) boils down to how you use or misuse it.
Metal fungo bats tend to be preferred by the coach who has a propensity to miscare for their fungo. This is because of a couple reasons:
- The best metal fungo bats can better handle improper storage (e.g., not in a controlled environment, not in a vertical position) during the off-season
- Metal bat fungos can take the maximum amount of abuse (like being struck against the dugout or when a player tries it in live BP—BAD! Don’t do this!)
Typically, the more serious the coach is about his craft, the more likely he or she will use a wood bat fungo. This is for a few other reasons:
- A large majority of coaches feel that wood makes for the best fungo bat, as it gives the most control to hit to specific spots on the field
- Away goes the annoying ping sound.
- Bonus: (something you can’t do with metal) who doesn’t love to have their name, and even logo engraved on their fungo?
The major downsides to even the best metal fungos are the sting that comes from hitting with metal in colder weather, and, important to the purist, the “ping” sound that it makes. We hate the ping! We want that nice wooden pop.
What Type of Wood is Best for Fungo Bats?
While proper weight is critical to successful use, there is another wood fungo factor to consider: wood type used to craft it. Wood types fall into two categories: composite (multiple pieces of wood glued together) and single piece (made from one piece of wood).
Bamboo wood bat fungos, made from glued up pieces of a fast growing grass from Asia, lack the pop that you get from the best fungo bats on the market. You can expect to work harder to hit the ball farther.
Other wood fungo bats made out of multiple pieces of wood are available, some with good success...and some that fall apart after time, as improper storage can cause the glue lines to fail.
For single piece wood fungo bats, woods such as hickory make for a very durable single piece wood bat fungo, but they’re too heavy. Some companies do use ash, likely for cost reasons, but those fungos tend to flake apart over time due to grain structure.
From competitive analysis, we found that fungos made out of birch or silver maple are the most durable and the best for balancing weight and durability.
How does the Feel of Metal Fungos Compare to Wood Fungos?
One final advantage of wood fungo bat is the feel in your hands. While metal bats have a traditional metal bat knob (straight from the handle into a full knob), wood bat fungos come in two knob designs.
The traditional metal-bat style knob is good for those whose hands sweat a lot, as the knob catches your hand. The flared knob is good for those who don’t want the knob beating on your bottom hand, which can become uncomfortable during practice. For Phoenix Bats, the flared knob fungo is preferred by most, especially by those newer to coaching.
What Type of Fungo Should I Use to Practice with Infielders?
The most versatile fungo bats are designed for both infield and outfield practice. Should you desire a fungo to really rip the ball to young ballhawks in the infield, consider an infield fungo. It tends to be heavier and thicker through the middle to give more oomph. This thicker fungo bat also works better for softball coaches to hit the bigger ball used for softball.
Do Your Research Before Purchasing
It’s not a bad idea to test out the bat you intend to purchase. Should the manufacturer not offer a risk free guarantee to try out the fungo for a period of time after purchase, word of mouth and independent site reviews can help you determine which company’s fungo bat to choose.