Bat Fitting and The Great Lakes Bat Co. Process
Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast, where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development.
Aaron Chamberlain is the co-founder of Great Lakes Bat Co. where the sell wooden baseball bats but also investing a bat fitting process that is gather attention from Major League organizations.
On this episode, Host Geoff Rottmayer sits down with Aaron Chamberlain of Great Lakes Bat Co., where we talk about the batting fitting process they invented and is having success with.
In this conversation Aaron talks about:
- Traditional ways of bat fitting and how they worked to improve it.
- The studies they have read that lead their thought process.
- The development of their bat fitting bat and the thought process behind it.
- How the actual process of collecting the data and submitting the data works.
- Weight Weight vs Bat Weight.
- End Loaded vs Balance Bats.
- Handle size and whether it matters.
- How this fit a bat specifically to the individual swing weight.
- How often one should get fitted as they go through their development.
- and much more.
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Geoff: On today’s show we interviewed Aaron Chamberlain with Great Lakes Bat Co and we’re talking bat fitting.
Intro: Welcome to another episode of The Baseball Awakening Podcast where we dive into the raw, unfiltered, unsexy side of player development. Get ready for some knowledge bombs with your host, Geoff Rottmayer
Geoff: Welcome to The Baseball Awakening Podcast, I am Geoff Rottmayer, and today we are sitting down with Aaron Chamberlain, of Great Lake Bat Co. And they are leading the way in the bat fitting department, so a very interesting concept. Aaron, how are you sir?
Aaron: I’m doing well man. How you doing?
Geoff: I’m doing great man. Listen, you know, I want to live. I want to dive into your company a Great Lake Bat Co. Because you have a process that I am interested in learning more about which is Bat Fitting. Can you talk a little bit about what that is and how it started?
Aaron: Alright, so a little background on the bat fitting is we are as a company, we’re coming up on two years old and one of the things we realized is people had become so accustomed to buying bats, you know, with the bb core metal, you know, concepts of swinging a 30 3:30, a 34 slash 31 that they didn’t really understand the other components or aspects of a bat. And when you get into wood bats there’s all the different turn models and profiles. Right. So what we decided we needed to do was come up with a way to kind of decode it for people. So about a year ago we really dove into the research on it. I mean I buried myself in physics and thankfully I had a pretty good physics space from high school but hadn’t touched a physics book about 15 years and really spent a few months just diving back into it. And what we identified through reading the works of Dr Russell and Dr Nathan, Dr Bay Hill, some of those guys who have done a lot of writing on the, on the subject. Is that swing weight or moment of inertia really to be more academic about it is one of the key components and one of the things that we started looking into is that the physics theory out there kind of portrayed this as this linear trade off with the greater the barrel weight or higher moment of inertia of the bat, but what we’re. Excuse me, the lower the swing speed and then they basically negated each other well being around the game for long enough and understanding that the human element can’t be removed. We decided we were going to investigate that further because we didn’t think that was necessarily going to hold water and what we found is fitting someone to a bat is very, very individualistic. It’s based on that person and so what we do is I invented a a bat, if we want to call it that, that we removed about six ounces of the weight from the barrel and then we inserted a six ounce metal ring that can be adjusted to various locations along the barrel. And what this does is it changes the moment of inertia of that bat fitter. As we refer to it, and then we use a blast motion sensor to capture swing data at different predetermined points along that bat, along that fitter for that a metal ring to sit and knowing the Moi at those specific locations, we can then objectively compare the swing data across that spectrum of moments of inertia or swing weights and a created a formula that then determines a or, or calculates what we refer to as power efficiency. And by comparing the power efficiency at the different points, we can objectively compare how well a person can perform at those various swing weights.
Geoff: Very Nice, thats interesting. I am looking at a picture the ring weight The Bat right there where the barrel would be at the ad, they go down along the bat, you know, what does that mean?
Aaron: So essentially what we do is we lock it into predetermined locations and those predetermined locations. We know what the Moi, we, uh, we did, we sent all of the, all of our bats, all of our bat models and this bat fitter to the University of Massachusetts Lowell and their baseball research center. And they did all our testing and now. So we wanted to make sure that we were utilizing a process that was one scientific and too scientific with people who are used to doing baseball related studies, so we went to those guys and they all the testing for us. So we are very confident in the in the feedback and the data that we got from them. So basically as this weight is locked into different positions along the barrel, we what the Moi or the swing weight of that bat fitter is at that moment, then we can use that as part of the calculation for power efficiency, which is a metric we developed it. It’s not when you’re going to find out there openly, I mean you’re gonna find different variations of it. Different people are probably going to have similar concepts that they measure, but the missing ingredient, kind of the thing that everyone seemed to neglect is it makes a big difference whether that 65 mile an hour swing speed happens with a sledgehammer or a broomstick, right? If you can swing a sledgehammer, it’s 55 miles an hour, it’s going to hit a ball and a lot further than if you swing a broomstick 65 miles an hour. And that’s the crux of this,
Geoff: hhmmmm, I am still looking at a picture, there are 6 different groove, is that right?
Aaron: there are. Yeah, there are six different locations while essentially seven, because I’m from zero through six, so from the very bottom or knob end of that smaller area of the barrel all the way up to the distal end or all the way up by the, the end of the barrel. So we, uh, we have seven predetermined locations, the zero and vocation and then up an inch up an inch up an inch all the way through six inches.
Geoff: Ok so when someone goes through the bat fitting process. Are they like 10 and then you’re taking the data and figuring it out from there? Or can you talk about that?
Aaron: So what we do is we try to minimize the number of swings someone needs to take. And the reason is we want to ensure that they can take a game like swings and get away from what we saw other people in attempting to do with that fitting, right? That sitting isn’t this brand new concept. People have tried to figure this out. We just figured, figured out a better way to do it. Right. So prior to this, what you do is you go to a cage where they had sent HitTrax or Rapsodo or something like that where they can measure the output. I’m swinging a result based output and but what you’d have to do is you’d have to take six or eight or 10 different bat into that cage with you and then take several swings with each bat and then compare the results that you had. Right? So for me, there’s too many variables there. Like if, if you get, if you’re taking 10 swings with each bat and you get, you know, for bad front tosses in that 10 swing set with one bat and all of a sudden your results since it’s the result based fitting, your results are skewed. So I wanted to try to find a way to kind of remove some of those variables and really what we’re fitting in guy to his, his potential output. We can’t the role of the bats there. Let me put it this way, the role of the bath fitter is not to ensure that a guy will have success. What we’re saying is if you can put the barrel of the bat on the ball, this is going to help you be more effective, right? It’s going to help increase exit velocity in theory. It can, it can also help you with greater barrel control. Um, because one of the, one of the areas, one of the data points that we collect is attack angle. So if, if it gets too top heavy for you and you can no longer really control the barrel and you get really flat with it, right? We’re going to know and that’s going to measure into the recommendation. So by measuring things like bat speed, time to contact, attack angle, and then the blast motion power metric, we’re taking into account what we believe are very valuable metrics that can be gathered from a bat sensor. So you don’t have to have a really expensive machine and are really expensive facility to do this. So it’s really, you know, to prove the point. I’m on her instagram, I showed some pictures of me doing it in my backyard. In 12 minutes I put up a botnet grab a bucket of tennis balls because that metal weight, we’ll cut up baseball’s baseball. So we use tennis balls, throw up a botnet, grab my tea, set up a bucket of tennis balls. And in 12 minutes I had gone through the fitting process and then I took the data, punched it into the form on our website, and then I got an email shortly thereafter telling me exactly what model at what links I need it.
Geoff: Yeah. Sio the ring does down the bat, does that tell you weight or whether you needed a end load vs balance bat?
Aaron: Now you’re getting to it. So, so Dr Bakehill’s research years ago, right? He patented a product, and I may get the name wrong, but the bat wait chooser, right. And what his, his research was based on was identifying the optimal weight or actual weight for the uh, for players Bat, right. Well, what we found is that, and this is actually, and I can’t take the credit because Dr Russell Research, Dan Russell, I read his research and I was going through it and then he had this, uh, this paper that he wrote. And it was basically that swing weight was more important than actual weight. So that’s when the light bulb kind of went on for me. You’re like, gosh, that’s, that’s where it’s at. So that’s when we started to really dig into how do you develop this, how do you get to the point where you can test it and if you can test it and measure at these different swing weights, then you can, in theory, granted a year ago when we were just working in up in the cloud in theory, right? Um, and now we feel pretty definitively that you can match someone to an ideal swing weight. And then it’s just a matter of basically reverse engineering that to find out which that fits that swing weight. So it’s pretty cool. And you know, recently we’ve, we’ve even started to build a database of bb corps, um, non would that, so your, your aluminum alloys in your composites because the same concept holds true. Now there’s more variables with those because of the different components. And um, you know, the barrel compressions and all that, what would, it’s pretty consistent. But with the a composites and the alloys, there’s a little bit more to it, but the swing weight concepts still holds true.
Geoff: Right so what does, does the handle, grip and size of it matter at all?
Aaron: there’s some research out there at the pure swing, I believe, uh, based out in San Diego, that area, they’ve done some, some work with grip size on the bat and you know, they, you know, we start from a little bit and, but I know they haven’t fully released it. I don’t know what their plans are, but I know they plan on rolling out soon. Um, but they’ve done some research on the impacts of grip size and I do know just from reading some of their stuff that they hypothesized that most players are using a bat handle that’s too small for them. Now. The tough part with that is after reading that, I did some more research and the people who are into ergonomics and identifying ideal like hand tool, a handle sizes and shapes identify optimal handle size as about an inch and a quarter. Now if you get to about an inch and a quarter in handle size, now your barrel size is going to have to be pretty significant and you’re going to get into really light woods. So, um, there’s something there for sure. I’d have to dig into it a little bit more, but again, the handle size changes, you just alter the profile of the bat to ensure that you still hit that swing weight profile for you. So the swing weight profile concept of fitting to that really allows the hitter to determine like what handle size, whatnot, shape, how aggressive does the, um, the transition, the throat around the trademark need to be, right? And that’s, that still can be player preference as long as they’re working within that, that optimal swing weight profile for them
Geoff: hmm, so lets say you got a guy and he goes through your bat fitting process, and you punch in the data, o know what, what’s that going to tell, but they can tell him that he needs to drop three or five, you know, how, how does that go?
Aaron: So to keep things relatively straightforward and what we’ve done is used the standard drop of minus two point five. That’s a pretty standard drop. I’m going to be good mind drop two, drop three. We went dropped a two point five to allow a little bit of wiggle room for moisture absorption and you know the bat may dry out, it may take on a little bit moister depending on the relative humidity of where it’s where it lives, right? And so we went right in the middle to allow a little bit of wiggle room and essentially what the for the most part, these recommendations are going to stick to that minus two point five. So you may get one that says you need a Pro Glb 271 at 33 and a half inches. But that same recommendation may also say a pro job R243 at 33 and a half inches. Because the swing weights, those two bats are very similar, right? So when you go through the process and you get this email comes right back to Ya and it lists them this bat at this length, this bad, it lists different at it that way. And so sometimes you may get to very end loaded bats at 32 and a half inches. And one very balanced that at 33 inches and that’s just the way they work out. They belong to the same swing weight profile, right?
Geoff: It’s pretty cool, man that are presented.
Aaron: So that’s when you still get that personal player preference, right? You get to go onto our website and you get to look at the pictures of these bats and say, oh, I really, really liked the flared handle, right? Or flared knob or I’ve always liked the traditional knob or got really got smaller hands so I don’t want a real thick handle or whatever. Right? You guys have all these little nuances about them that we can’t necessarily predict everything, right? I can’t predict their, their likes and dislikes. And so for many of our recommendations, they’re coming with two, three, five, sometimes even six bat bat models in and sometimes in different links that fit that swing weight profile. So they can go in and say, this is what I want, you know? And then some, yeah, not to cut you off, but one of the more fascinating ones recently was a pro guy. Um, we work with will say a Premier Baseball instruction facility in, uh, in North Carolina. Um, and I, I didn’t ask them beforehand if I ended drop their name on this podcast, I don’t want to share too much, but they share on their social media so you deal figure it out. Um, but a premier baseball instruction facility in North Carolina and they just did a pro guy a couple days ago and he fit into a 35 inch drop two and that’s pretty unique, but the dude’s six slash six 250 and I looked at the raw data from is fitting just to make sure something didn’t go wrong, right? Everything checked out. He went from one location, from the three inch location, which is where we were. I just, for wood, we started that three inch location work from three inches to six inches because that will cover every bat in the lineup at the length of the fitter being used. Plus a little bit on either end. Um, and I went through and looked at it. You went three, four, five, six inch location, minimal change in bat speed, no change in time to contact. And the other, the other metrics we’re were fairly similar to actually is powered increased, um, which is more or less than the average acceleration. Right? Um, and the overall power efficiency, since it’s time to contact didn’t diminish or wasn’t. The administrator didn’t go backwards, right? It didn’t increase. Um, his bat speed is relatively constant, is attack angle, um, stayed relatively constant and it’s power actually increased the power efficiency showed him that he needed to be at about as big or bad that we can make right for all of a sudden he’s getting recommendations for 35 inch drop two and I’m going to bet that if he followed that recommendation, he would see some serious power changes to his name. It would be. I’m going to guess it’d be pretty impressive because. Yeah, I’m sorry. I get excited. So the other part of the science behind this that people are tending to is don’t be afraid to go up in link because when you stop and stop and look at it from a physics standpoint, baseball bats are essentially third class or third order levers, right? So the greater distance you can put between the area of impact, where this force is going to be applied to the ball in your hands, the greater the velocity multiplier. It’s not a mechanical advantage with a bat because it’s a third class library is a multiplier, right? But essentially the greater your bat speed will be. So if you fit into a 32 and a half inch bat and a 33 inch bat, you would see a slight performance bump by going with the more balanced 33 inch, same Moi profile, right, same swing weight profile at 33 inches versus the end loaded 32 and a half, right? And that’s because baseball bats are essentially a third rounder. 11th,
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Geoff: Very Nice, interesting stuff. You know, so just for our listener, why don’t you talk a little bit about the different between the balance and end load.
Aaron: Okay, so balancing and loaded. There are terms that we’ve used forever. Some guys will use top heavy, right to describe these things. Eventually it’s all gonna go away and we’re going to. We’re going to educate everyone on the concept of swing weight and people will be using Mris and manufacturer will be manufacturers, but using the traditional terms. Balanced is when the weight is centered closer to your hands and loaded is where that the weight, the center of mass, if you will move closer to the distal end or the barrel end of the bat, and generally what it feels like is the more end loaded. You get up to a. Some guys, especially if they are best with a very balanced bad as it gets more end loaded, you feel a little bit of barrel drag, right? And sometimes if it’s way to end load it for you, it’ll almost feel like it’s swinging by the end of it. Right? You no longer feel like you’re in control of it. And we see that a lot with younger kids especially.
Geoff: Yeah. That guy that did the bigger guy, um, do you see a huge variation between different sides kids, you know, different side players. I mean, is it a very personalized,
Aaron: Its very personalize. If you go on google and say what size bat does my kid need? You’re going to get this generic table that says like if he’s 64 inches tall and weighs 125 pounds, right? He needs to swing this. If he’s 70 inches tall, weighing 180 pounds, he needs to swing a 34 inch bat. Right? But that’s so generic that it’s not based at all on the individual. I mean, there’s a difference between a guy who’s six foot tall and 185 pounds and squat 400 pounds. Right? And is it absolutely crossfit scene, right? And a guy who’s six foot, 185 pounds, who has never seen the inside of a weight room and spends his evening playing fortnite right there. They’re both six foot one 85. But you can’t tell me the crossfit themed guy who’s squats for Hundo doesn’t fit into a bigger bat. Right? His strength levels are greater than 100. Eighty pounds can be a, it can be all in your belly or it can be put throughout your hips and chest. Right? So all in all in where it falls.
Geoff: Nice. All the different philosophies or anything like that. But a guy that goes through the process and gets fitted for Matt and then. And then he decides that he wants to do something different with his swing or maybe lift, you know, would, would that impact anything if he decided to move differently or get stronger, you know? Or would that, would that still be the same? Are you talking about that?
Aaron: That’s the thing that really kind of set the light bulb off process about what would have been about this time last year. So we’re a couple of months into this concept of trying to figure it out. We talked to a former big league catcher who’s we hae a walk into a facility, talk to the people running that organization and his kid happened to be there and he caught in the bigs for a number of years and he said that about mid season he would go from a 34 slash 32 with no end cup, which he swung in the first half when he was fresh. But by the, by mid season he had to go to a 33 and a half with a cup just to be able to catch a catch up to velocity and you know, and that’s what he was doing was essentially knowing himself well enough that I need to get into something that’s lower Moi, a lighter swing weight. But what, what you’re asking is if a guy gets stronger, which is the exact opposite of this situation, right? Does he potentially need a different bat? Potentially. And that’s why facilities and organizations should have this tool at their disposal. So that as, especially like a high school kid, I mean you go from 16 to 17 and hit a growth burst right and put on 15 or 20 pounds. Yeah, you’re probably gonna need something different and you know, that could happen in a matter of three months, six months, you could see massive gains. Maybe it gets in the weight room for the first time and now he needs something more. Can he still swing what he had before? Absolutely. You don’t have to throw it away, but is that what he’s best with? Probably not anymore.
Geoff: You know, there’s a lot of growth during that time, how often would you recommend someone getting tested or this something that you would recommend them doing? Kind of every time they come in.
Aaron: So how often would I recommend someone be tested? Is that the question?
Aaron: Had the fitters in my facility and had people coming in routinely, like let’s say, you know, billy ballplayer comes in and he works out of facility three, four times a week and you know, we see them all the time. I would, I would fit him every time we do kind of a hitting assessment and I don’t want to say it, the hitting assessment, right, because essentially you’re assessing often, but if you have like official checkpoints that you identify in a training schedule where let’s do this swing assessment here and look at where we’re at and reevaluate your trading plan. That would be the time to do it. Now if it’s not, um, if he’s not in that often and I would recommend people do at least every six months in that age range from 14 to 18, especially if it’s available. Right. Um, if it’s available in the facility and the facility has somebody doing it, um, because really that’s, that’s where I envisioned this being an incredible tool is in a facility or for a team or organization and a team or organization. They may only use it once a year, right at the beginning, like the beginning of high school season, right? They move, they may fit everybody up to the high school season to see what bb core bats they need to be swinging that year in that three or four months. That kid probably isn’t going to change it that much, but if you have it at your disposal you can always go back and do it. An organization that’s playing, you know, eight or nine months a year, they’re going to probably need to sit their kids before the season and then at some point during the season just to see if they still fit that same swing weight profile.
Geoff: So for the people that are listen you got to use the blast sensor not a Diamond kinetics on there and get the formula. Am I correct?
Aaron: We use the blast sensor and I’ll be honest, I don’t have that much experience with diamond kinetics. We started using the blast sensor. Really liked it. Um, so I can’t, I can’t speak ill of the diamond kinetics sensor at all. Um, but I do know that everything we’ve done has been set up using the blast sensor. So I would recommend staying with the blast sensor just because I don’t know how things will come out if you use a different sensor.
Aaron: Well, I appreciate it. We’re excited about it. It’s what’s funny is the, all of a sudden we’re getting emails and phone calls from, you know, shoot, I got an email from hitting coordinator for Major League organization last night, tomorrow. There’s another major league organization. I’m putting this on the agenda for one of their meetings, you know, they’re talking about fitting some of their not some basically high eight and down in their organization and helping guys understand what they need, right? Because a lot of young guys don’t get it. They don’t know. So they grab whatever the clubby handsome and then they try to figure it out. So it’s, it’s kind of crazy how over the last couple months since we’ve kind of really released this and talked about it openly, um, people’s interest is peaked. You know, the, the first time we saw some real potential and it was, we were working in the US pbl in Michigan, a nice short professional baseball league. I’m really unique concept and kind of forward thinking guys in terms of developing at the independent ball level. And we went in before the season last year and fit some of their guys, I think we, I think we said 16 guys just went in for a morning and Aaron did 16 guys and that’s when the curtain was kind of starting to be lifted on the concept and they were really open to seeing it, using it and they, you know, they had one guy really is all that I’m fully bought into the concept of it. But if you look at his numbers before and after taking that recommendation, you know, he went from a to 220 guy to a to 280 guy and it’s, it’s unreal, you know, and he saw a bump in philosophy of about two miles per hour and the second half of the season. And it’s small sample size, right? Because it’s one dude and I’m sure he was working on his swing at that point too. But when it happens over on July fifth, something changed beyond that. That change in the swing and it’s pretty cool stuff.
Geoff: And we live in a great time. A bunch of different things that you can put together to help your performance. You know, and all this understanding with, with what we have now, you know, with the technology and all this stuff, it brings great and cool stuff. Like what you got to do.
Aaron: Appreciate. Uh, I appreciate the compliment there man. It is an exciting time to be in and technology is so ubiquitous now. This isn’t, you know, we, we designed this with the goal being that it wouldn’t separate the haves from the have nots because just about anybody could afford this and that is what we wanted. You know, you didn’t have to have a $30,000 system in your facility to make it happen.
Geoff: I’m sitting right here on the website, Great Lake Bat Co. I see that there is a three pack and an individual pack. Is there a reason for a three pack.
Aaron: So there are three different links. Thirty two, 33 and 34. So the goal being to get as close as possible. So if you pick up the 33 right, it’s going to sit you to, if use the entire range of the barrel, it’s going to take 30 to 32 and a half and maybe a really balanced 33 and a half. But the, there is no way that without changing the weight, the actual weight that we could give you a 33 and find out that you need to be in a 35, right? So the player still has a little bit of a role in this and saying, well, I’m always swung a pretty end loaded 34, well let’s, let’s go ahead and fit you with this 34 and maybe we need to be in a 35. Right? And we actually, uh, the facility that I mentioned before with that program, we actually made a 35 inch model for them because they have some dudes. So, um, you know, the three pack is a 30 2:33 and 34. Um, and what that allows you to do is fit basically anyone from the guy who is just starting to swing ward at 12, 13 years old, because that’s 72 will actually fit all the way down to like our 32 drop five transitional models. Um, and the 34. And like I said, you’ll be able to get all the way up into that, really aren’t loaded 34 and potentially even a very balanced 35, 34 and a half 35
Geoff: Very nice and when you guys see the bb core concepts being developed.
Aaron: Yeah. So when you get the email from us and we give you the wood recommendation with our, with models and then right below that we say non would recommendation, you know, company x, Y, Z model, whatever, 34, 31 and yeah. So it’s there. And as we get the data, which is, which is the tough part, is gathering the data from these companies because they hold it pretty close to their chest. Right? So essentially you’ve got to go through the testing and we’ve to develop some relationships with some, uh, with some people who do bad reviews to help help out with getting some of the data we need for the bb core. And there’s a lot of interest in that. I mean, the bd corps, there’s a, a lot of people who swing at and that, uh, we found that a lot of people are really intrigued by this. And then the BB core side.
Geoff: Yeah. This is great stuff, man. Great Leak Bat Co
Aaron: Yeah, the Great Lakes backhoe. Yeah. It’s a great lakes back code.com and I mean we are. We’re constantly looking to do new and exciting things about fitting is supposed to do that. We feel really kind of changed the direction of the game and kind of allow hitters to close the gap on pictures because with pitch development over the last couple of years, utilizing technology, it’s become a widening gap between hitters and pitchers and we really see the bat fitting is helping to close that gap down.
Geoff: Being a part of the puzzle. Man, I really appreciate your time. I learned a lot. I’m asking going to go ahead and purchase a pair right now. I’m online, but anyway, man, I appreciate you coming on.
Aaron: Well I appreciate. I appreciate you having me on. I mean I, I’d probably, I guess I kind of dominated the conversation but I get excited about this. I want to educate people on how it works, how it helps them. So if anybody out there has any questions, if anybody out there has any questions that I didn’t answer, please free to hit us. I use the contact us form on a website and reach out because I can’t tell. We get excited about talking about it and we’d love to answer any questions people have.
Geoff: I am Geoff Rottmayer and thank you for listenting to our conversation on the Baseball Awakening Podcast. Stay tuned for our recap show tomorrow.