Is it a given that college players swing a bat that's at least 33" long?
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I would think the vast majority use 33 or 34 but I'm sure there are a few swinging a 32 albeit it is probably rare. I read somewhere Tony Gwynn did use a 32.
It depends on the "taper to the knob"
Most. You'll see a fair number using 34's and some 32's. Some manufacturers have dabbled with 1/2" increments.
I'm wondering of position in the box has anything to do with it? Maybe a player who likes to really crowd the plate is more likely to prefer a 32 whereas someone who is further away in the box likes a 33 or longer?
A hitter has to be able to handle the bat he chooses... strong enough to put a good, quick, efficient full swing on a pitch while making a split-second decision and he must also be able to hold off on a pitch he has started to commit on. At the same time, he wants as much mass and leverage as he can get. That is the give and take in the decision. Place in the box is not really a factor here. If ever so, very minimal. Once in a great while, a hitter will go down in size or choke up against a guy throwing in a higher velo range than the usual subset he normally faces.
Cabbage, Yes, that is correct. The taper to knob on the bat handle, allows the hitter to choke up with 2 strikes. The length of the hitter's arms and the ability to control a 34" bat which has a larger hitting area than a 33" are important.
Has the hitter studied the pitcher? the catcher?