Stick around the ballpark long enough and talk to any of the coaches around the game, they’ll all tell you the value in using a fungo bat. A fungo bat is often used in fielding practice and to warm up fielders. Not too long ago, fungo bats didn’t exist and coaches would use regular bats to hit balls to fielders. These days though, you’ll notice a lot of collegiate level as well as major league teams using fungo bats exclusively during practices and warmups.
So why the move towards fungo bats? What are the advantages and benefits of using a fungo bat instead of a normal bat? Let’s examine some key differences below.
What Makes A Fungo Bat Different Than Any Other Bat?
Fungo bats are used to warm players up, and coaches prefer them to regular bats as they give better control. This is especially important as coaches have to hit maybe hundreds of balls to fielders to teach proper fielding skills. Because of this repetitive action, it is important to have something that is easy to control so the coach will know exactly where the ball is being hit each time he hits it.
Another thing that is important to keep in mind is the fungo bat will need to be light so as to not tire the coach out. Thus, the lighter weight helps the coach avoid injury, as many coaches can even use one hand to swing a fungo bat. See below for three big differences:
- Length: Fungo bats are usually longer than normal bats, usually anywhere between 35 to 37 inches. Regular game bats, on the other hand, are generally 33 or 34 inches long.
- Thickness: A fungo bat will have a thinner barrel than regular bats, typically 2.20 inches or so.
- Weight: A fungo bat typically weighs between 17 to 22 ounces, while a regular bat will vary but generally fall between 26 and 30 ounces.
Can You Use Fungo Bats In Games?
Fungo bats are only used in practice as they are used to hit balls that are ‘self-pitched’, or tossed from the batter himself. This is different than other bats, which are usually used to hit balls that are thrown by a pitcher. Fungo bats are not sanctioned for use in games, although some recreational ‘fun’ leagues may allow players to use fungo bats in games. Still, if you are purchasing a fungo bat, you will need to restrict its’ use for practices only.
What Are Characteristics Of A Good Fungo Bat?
So what are the things that determine if a fungo bat is good or not? Here’s 3 characteristics to keep your eye on.
- Balanced feel: coaches should look for something that is light and balanced, not too heavy, with a good even weight distribution.
- Durability: it is important to get a fungo bat that will last many thousands of hits.
- Material used: You can buy wooden, composite, or aluminum fungo bats; and of course, there are different types of wood you can choose from as well.
Keep The ‘Fun’ In Fungo
Another important thing to keep in mind when buying a fungo bat is the fun aspect of owning a fungo bat. Many coaches around the major leagues will customize their fungos using their team colors, or adding stamps, engravings, etc. If you’re buying a fungo too, be sure to do the same to yours and find something that makes it unique. After all, it will help you remember the joy of the game.
Product Reviews - Which Is Right For You?
The top 5 options for fungo bats in 2018 market are listed here:
Louisville Slugger: “K100” Series
Louisville Slugger is first up with the K100 series which features a beautiful northern white ash with a great natural look and finish. This fungo rates high on durability and has proven to be a nice cold weather bat as well, with no noted issues in performance.
- Performance-grade northern white ash, slightly heavier than lighter ash variants.
- Natural wood with a classic finish
- 36 inches long
- Excellent durability and dependability
- Slightly end-weighted
- Some coaches have even adapted this for use in softball with no major concerns
- Very reasonably priced, one of the cheaper fungos available
- Handle comes a bit rough from the manufacturer, it may need to be sanded down slightly or you may need to apply a bat grip or tape
- Feels a bit heavier than other fungos
- No color options other than the natural wood finish
Nice choice from LS as the K100 is a durable, solid choice for someone looking for a no frills fungo bat. It is priced low, and is a very reasonable fungo for coaches looking for their first practice bat.
Easton: “MLF5” Series
Easton’s MLF5 maple fungo is a great option for coaches looking for a maple practice bat that offers good durability and longevity. It comes in both 34 and 37 inches, I like the 37 inch option as it gives great length without sacrificing control. The best part about the MLF5 series is the beautiful look and feel of this fungo, including the variety of colors you can pick from.
- Constructed from one-piece North American maple
- Available in both 34 inches as well as 37 inches
- Thinner handle to increase bat control
- Barrel has been laser engraved and the end is cupped
- Nice sturdy feel with an excellent look and design
- Comes in various colors, beautiful look
- Some users confirmed cracks along the barrel of the bat after several hundred hits
- Surface area is fairly small and the sweet spot can be missed
A lovely fungo that has a custom feel to it, the MLF5 is priced slightly higher than other fungos but well worth the price tag. The durable properties of maple are captured to give a nice stick with excellent user control.
Easton: “F4 Alloy” Series
The Easton F4 Alloy fungo features a thin handle with a tapered grip weighing 20 ounces and measuring 35 inches long. It comes in a nice yellow and black color combination and is lighter than other wooden alternatives.
- Aluminum can be used in colder temperatures without fear of breaking like wood
- Good pop off the bat and can reach 250-300 feet with ease
- Much lighter than other wooden fungo bats
- 35 inches, 20 ounces (though some weight it a bit heavier at 22oz
- Slightly end-loaded to give the coach a bit more pop, it lets the bat do the workAvailable in black and yellow pattern
- Grip is questionable and will likely need to be replaced with a real bat grip, it is made of simple black athletic tape
If you’re worried at all about using a wooden fungo, take a shot with Easton’s aluminum offering in the F4 Alloy series, which should easily get you over 1000 hits.
DeMarini: “Fungodelic” Series
DeMarini comes to the market with the new Fungodelic, which has a composite frame that provides added durability. Coupled with a barrel made of high quality wood, this bat has a traditional feel to it but with the added benefit of a light swing weight. The Fungodelic also has a slight end-load to make it easier for coaches to swing.
- Good durability (for a composite stick)
- Lightweight with a good length (35 inches, 23 ounces)
- Slightly end-loaded for a bit more pop
- Absorbs shock and sting on mishits
- As with other composite bats, the barrel may compress as it gets more hits
- Not as long as other fungos
- Barrel a bit smaller than other options
A hybrid composite and wood fungo that give the function of a composite body with the benefits of a wooden barrel, the Fungodelic is a good choice for anyone looking for a fungo that is neither strictly wood or composite.
Mizuno: “Classic” Series
Mizuno’s Classic fungo uses engineered whitewood, more commonly known as white wax wood, which has been known to provide maximum shock absorbency. Whitewood is a rare wood that has firmness and stiffness but still manages to provide ample flexibility.
- Uses advanced engineered whitewood from China, with multiple pieces providing extra durability
- Good shock absorbency on balls that miss the sweet spot
- The lightest and most balanced fungo on the list
- 35 (infield version) to 36.5 (outfield version) inches long, depending on your preference
- Comes in either a natural or black finish
- Some surface flaking after heavy use
Mizuno has nailed it again with their Classic fungo, showcasing the combination of design and technology with a beautiful chinese whitewood providing excellent durability and toughness. We’ve linked the ‘infield’ version here, but really both infield and outfield versions are great choices and can be used interchangeably.
Which Wood Baseball Bat Is Best?
I’m a big fan of DeMarini’s Fungodelic hybrid bat, and I’d encourage all coaches looking for a new fungo to test it out this upcoming season. It has a great, balanced feel and will make fielding practice a breeze.