Although most non-pro players these days use aluminum bats, some still prefer the tried and true feeling of a wood bat. Wood bats require more skill to hit the ball off the sweet spot and thus make a great batting practice bat for players of all ages. The reality of wood bats is that any one of them can be broken. However, with some knowledge and the right bat, they have been known to last a long, long time.
When choosing a wood baseball bat, it is imperative that you know the difference:
Most wood bats today are made from Northern White Ash which is graded for the quality of the straight grain. Southern Ash grows too quickly and is not as dense. Ash is much more flexible than maple and has a "trampoline" effect when it is struck by a ball. Instead of jumping off of the bat like maple, ash bats have a spring board effect and absorb the contact with the ball. Certain ballplayers like ash over maple because ash bats usually have a larger "sweet spot", and therefore gives them a bigger area to make solid contact.
Maple bats are made from hard Rock Maple or Sugar Maple. They tend to cost a little bit more, but outlast ash bats many times over. Many players like Maple bats because the ball just jumps off the bat a bit quicker. It also doesn't flake (outer layers or pieces that chip off in flakes) like ash can. Maple bats are extremely hard and dense and therefore aid the ball in jumping off of the bat faster than any other type of wood. The surface itself is approximately 20 percent harder and has a closer grained hard wood than ash (i.e. the grain is not as easy to see). The hardness of this particular bat makes it less flexible and thus easier to break upon contact with a baseball.
Bamboo bats don't flake or split easily. Bamboo is extremely strong and is less likely to break. Bamboo is hard to break because it is more dense than wood, but this also means that the baseball do not come off the bat as fast. This means it makes great batting practice bats, but not the best game bats.