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Changes To Bat Regulations (Updated for 2011)

The bat changes begin to take effect this spring in a limited way for HS baseball and completely at the College level. We lose the use of all of our composite barrell bats this spring and will have to buy ALL new bats new spring, with the move to the BBCOR standard. College Baseball America has a great article on the subject which can be accessed HERE.

The NCAA and NFHS are making dramatic changes to the regulations for non-wood bats which will become effective for the 2012 season. While these have no real impact on Mohawk and Tomahawk baseball for this spring, this will become quite problematic in 2012 with our limited budget resources and our strategy of purchasing closeouts. Here is a brief discussion on the reasons for the change and what, if anything, this means to a Mohawk baseball player or parent.

The change will require a whole new standard to be used for bat regulations and testing. This has been prompted by concerns that technology is allowing bats to significantly outperform traditional wood bats, and as a result pose a safety risk for players. The new standards will reduce acceptable "ball exit speeds," for bats and as a result bats must have a new stamp "BBCOR" which stands for "ball-bat coefficient of restitution." The reason for the standard is to make sure that metal bats behave like traditional wood bats.

Here's my soapbox. I hate wooden bats and I love what the metal bat brings to youth baseball. The nostalgia for wood is all well and good, and it's great for novelty, but I played with wood and in my experience metal bats have dramatically improved the players experience, especially at younger ages. Studies and statistics have proven that metal bats do not in fact increase the number or severity of injuries. There's a ton more to say here, but I'll let it stand this way for now.

At the college level, composite bats of ALL varieties are no longer legal bats. This does not impact us at the high school level, but it is worth considering in making a purchase in the future. There is some evidence that the composites improve over time, and that they can in fact be tampered with to improve performance. This is not much of an issue for us because we only have a couple because of their price. These may well be outlawed by next season at the HS level as well.

There is a great link on the physics of the bat, and applied research as it relates to hitting which has been conducted at Kettering University. It gets a little technical at times, but has immediate application to every Mohawk hitter. It's worth a careful reading and many of his experiments parrallel what is done on Myth Busters.

Link To The Physics of Baseball Bats

The most obvious, and most applicable research deals with bat weight and the role of bat speed. This study reinforces what we emphasize at all levels, a lighter bat can be better controlled and will product a faster barrell speed. Together these factors completely overwhelm the small value of bat mass (weight). IE swing a light bat quickly through the zone, with control, and we'll be more successful.

Link To Article on Bat Specification Change Discusses the changes and differences between BESR & BBCOR
Link To List of Composite Bats That Are Legal This Spring (2011)

Finally a note on why we have never purchased a high end bat during its release year. We have managed for years to find bats that were either blems or closeouts. These bats consistently hover in the $100 range when original retail was near $300. Blems have all but disappeared, but when we got them they had cosmetic damage that had no impact on bat performance...in fact, many were more "blemmed" by first contact than when we received them. We are now getting what few bats we puchase as closeouts, generally last year's bat. In many cases (ie Omaha) the only difference between this year's $300 bat and the one we purchase is the change in bat graphics (ie different paint on the barrell). The difference in most bats is so small as to be insignificant, but our goal remains to give players the equipment we need to have confidence and be successful. This year's bats were all purchased after comparing the new versions with what was availbable in last year's bats...there is no significant difference in performance, balance or durability in any bat we were able to grab from our closeout supplier.

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