BBCOR Bats Update: Halfway through college season

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

The NCAA has done a study, at about the halfway point of the NCAA college baseball season (D1, D2, D3) and has found, not surprisingly, that scoring is down, home runs are down, ERA is down, shutouts are WAY up, and batting average is WAY down.  I think most that have paid attention to the change expected the results, though the amount of shutouts at this point of the season (444) vs this point last year (277) is quite dramatic. 

Here is a link to the NCAA article

You will notice in the graph in that article, that even though batting average is way down and runs per game are down and home runs are down, strikeouts per game (compared to the same midway point in the season) are also slightly DOWN.  That might surprise you, but it shouldn't.  The reason is strikeouts are down when all the other offensive stats are down is more pitchers are pitching to contact, throwing more strikes and throwing more strikes earlier in the count.  One stat I didn't see in the study is the amount of pitches thrown per game.   My guess is that pitches per game are also significantly down.

The best comment in the article is this one... “But I’ve heard coaches say that the guys who are good hitters are still good hitters,” Keilitz said. “Guys who coaches didn’t consider to be good hitters but still hit for good average with the old bats aren’t hitting for good average anymore with the new bats.”

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Update on availability of BBCOR bats

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

CIF Baseball Bat Implementation

http://www.cifstate.org/sports/other/baseball.html

CIF Will Require Non-Wood BBCOR Approved Baseball Bats for the 2010-2011 Season

Information available as of December 29, 2010 indicates non-wood baseball bats that have been BBCOR certified will be commercially available starting January 1, 2011.

As a result of our partnership with Sports Authority, they have indicated their 70+ stores will have non-wood BBCOR approved bats for sale on January 1, 2011.  Some SA stores already have non-wood BBCOR bats for sale.  Other retail stores will have non-wood BBCOR bats, but we do not know their timeline for putting the bats up for sale.  Baseball bats can also be purchased on-line.  All non-wood BBCOR approved bats will have the BBCOR stamp affixed to the bat.

In addition, below is a link to the NFHS waiver list of non-wood bats that have been approved  for use the 2010-11 season.  After this season, 2010-11 these bats will not be approved for play,

NFHS Approved BESR-ABI Composite Baseball Bats - Approved for Waiver

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NCAA Certified Bats home page

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

Website for NCAA Certified Bats

http://m-5.eng.uml.edu/umlbrc/ncaa_certified_bats.asp

NFHS RULES-COMPLIANT BATS LISTED ON THE INTERNET

A searchable bat model link is made available by the University of Massachusetts – Lowell Baseball Research Center (UMLBRC). The UMLBRC summarizes bats that have been submitted for and passed the Ball-Exit Speed Ratio (BESR) and Batted-Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) certification tests for the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). The certifications are intended to limit bat performance at or near the maximum performance limits of a wood bat, thereby minimizing additional risks and promoting the sound traditions of the sport.

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CIF Baseball Bat Implementation

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

http://www.cifstate.org/sports/other/baseball.html

Good information for high school players & coaches with questions about the bats they can use next spring.

http://digital.olivesoftware.com/Olive/ODE/BatGuide/

The link above is a Baseball America provided "Bat Guide"

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The uproar over the new BBCOR bats

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

Oh my... where to start?  What a field day this really could be for me.  So many transparent and seemingly shortsighted things are being said about the "issue" with the new bats that are to be used in college baseball this season (and in CA high school baseball too).  Something else stands out to me about all of this and the comments we read... I have not yet read comments from any players.

Below is a thread from a rivals.com message board... go ahead, read it, have fun.  Following that link is the link to a posting at Baseball America.  I have read both and mostly went from laughing at comments because of the ridiculous nature of some of them to becoming somewhat "angered" due to the same type of comments.

http://collegebaseball.rivals.com/showmsg.asp?SID=1169&fid=2308&style=2&tid=136893327&Page=2

http://www.baseballamerica.com/today/college/news/2010/2610722.html

Some points that stand out to me...

College coaches that are crying about trying to fix a game that is not broken seem a little out of whack about the game they were playing/coaching.  The game WAS broken because it was not normal baseball being played.  When terrible hitters can hit .300, guess what, it was broken.  When you have to use a ball that was supposed to allow for pitchers to have some chance against those juiced bats, it means it was broken.  Those that can't coach or teach hitting but can only recruit, well, those programs will struggle going forward. 

To those that are saying the game will "unfairly" swing toward the pitchers and create an "unequal playing field"... oh my goodness... it has been swung toward hitters for over 20 years in college baseball.  Just think about that... for half a second.

I read many comments about how the fans come to the game to see high scoring affairs and the game will suffer because the scores will be down.  Well, there you have it, perfectly stated in a round about way.  The bats artificially impacted the game by allowing for an increase in scoring... not only because the bats were geared toward making it easier to hit and have success but also because those hitters had so much confidence swinging those bats.  Additionally, do you know how many infielders are now going to be so much better at fielding ground balls rather than having to defend themselves against scorched earth rockets?  My guess is that the players themselves, the REAL players, not the ones that need the juiced bats to feel good about themselves on the diamond, will actually enjoy the game more.

To those concerned with the college baseball continuing to use the raised seam college ball... the reason they will continue to do so and should do so is because there are inferior pitchers in college (I would not be opposed to them going to a smaller seam ball, perhaps equal to the minor league balls).  It has always has been that way and it always will be (don't tell me about Strasburg or Prior... the rare exceptions... take a look at most college pitching staffs).  The top pitching prospects are drafted and signed in the earlier rounds (generally speaking). 

Not only was the college game geared toward hitters with the bats, but think about it... those hitters were facing an inferior caliber of pitcher too.  The raised seams (which I despise) give the pitchers some chance.  Then again, that is only on the surface.  Anyone with a little deeper knowledge of pitching or how to develop pitchers understands that pitchers actually have to grip a pro ball, use finger pressure, etc. to make the ball move and for those with arm speed, some feel for the ball and the ability to put grip pressure on the ball, they can IMPROVE their breaking ball or fastball movement with a pro ball of the nuances of the smaller seams.  The raised seam ball allows pitchers to simply rotate the ball by moving their fingers against the seams (rolling it) vs actually gripping it and imparting SPIN.  The big seams are there because college and high school pitchers are simply not good enough to pitch effectively with a pro ball... yet, even knowing that, the hitters continued to get an advantage swinging a bat with a 7 inch sweet spot. 

Look, I clearly have strong feelings about all this stuff and I don't actually feel it is my FEELINGS that spurs what I write.  I think I see things clearly, with an impartial point of view (other than loving baseball) and am able to consider all sides.

Will the college game suffer because of the new bat standards?  I don't know.  It is a supposedly "non-revenue" sport anyway (completely laughable) that is still only getting 11.7 scholarships for the players, so it is not like the NCAA cares about baseball anyway.  Cal just lost it's program for financial reasons, do you think they care about bats or what low-scoring games will mean in terms of attendance?  I went to plenty of Cal games over the years and saw many sparse crowds, similarly to when I coached at USF.  One of the reasons for those sparse crowds was the diversity of the student population, many of whom do not care about or know much about baseball.  Furthermore, African-American players don't get nearly the same opportunity to play college baseball (variety of reasons) which makes it a nearly lilly white, elitist type sport, something like tennis or golf or swimming and who needs that? 

Go ahead, say what you have to say.

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CIF UNVEILS PLAN TO TIGHTEN BASEBALL BAT STANDARDS

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

Seems as though all the work that was done after Gunnar Sandberg's injury has had an effect, a very positive one.  Rational discussion promoted by rational thinking people that care more about the game and those playing it than those concerned with the dollars to be made from the game have affected positive change.  I am not big on the headgear part but there are those that have a greater focus on safety than the game.  My focus has been on making the quality of the game better and therefore, a byproduct of that would be an increased level of safety.  I understand there is inherent risk in all sporting activities... heck, I was drilled in the side of the head the other day (throwing BP) by a batted ball that richocheted off a pole and blindsided me... half an inch from my temple.  I accept risk in the activity but perhaps wearing a helmet while throwing BP would have been wise!  Oh yes... I was throwing to a kid using a wood bat.

http://www.cifstate.org/media/pdf/CIF%20Tighten%20Bat%20Standard%20release.pdf

http://sports.espn.go.com/los-angeles/news/story?id=5456531

CIF UNVEILS PLAN TO TIGHTEN BASEBALL BAT STANDARDS

FOR MEMBER HIGH SCHOOLS

Ruling Speeds Up Implementation of National Standards as a Way to

Address Safety, Cost and Fairness Issues

SACRAMENTO

--In a move to protect high school athletes, save schools money and ensure a level

playing field on prep baseball diamonds throughout the state, the California Interscholastic Federation

today announced tighter standards for non-wooden baseball bats that will go into effect for the

upcoming 2010-11 baseball season. no comments

NCAA statement about new bats 9/16/08

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

 http://web1.ncaa.org/web_files/rules/baseball/bats/NCAA.BBCORannouncement.9.05.pdf

DATE: September 16, 2008

TO: Baseball Bat Manufacturers.

FROM: Baseball Research Panel and Baseball Rules Committee.

SUBJECT: Bat performance measurements. This correspondence serves as the formal announcement of the NCAA’s decision to replace the Ball Exit Speed Ratio (BESR) with the Ball-Bat Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) as the means for measuring bat performance in testing. The NCAA Baseball Research Panel believes the BBCOR eliminates some discrepancies with different length bats and is a more direct measure of bat performance. Additionally, the Panel believes most bat designers understand and deal with the concept of the BBCOR more frequently than the BESR and that this should ease the process of trying to create bats that meet the NCAA performance standard. It should be noted that the actual testing procedure has not changed.

The NCAA Baseball Rules Committee has determined, based on a large sample of wood bats tested in the same manner, that an appropriate standard for BBCOR is 0.50. This reaches the NCAA’s intention to maintain its non-wood standard using available scientific data and as nearly as possible achieving wood-like performance in non-wood bats. The 0.50 standard sets the performance line slightly higher than the best available wood bats in our database. This will ensure that all wood bats continue to be legal under the new standard. The NCAA will maintain the current length-to-weight "difference" (i.e. -3); moment-of-inertia (MOI) standard, and bat diameter limit. There will be no "sliding scale" associated with the new BBCOR standard; thus, all bats must meet the 0.50 limit regardless of length. It is anticipated that this new standard will require an adjustment in the design of all bats currently legal under the BESR. To allow manufacturers sufficient time to adjust, the NCAA will enforce this standard beginning January 1, 2011 and will only allow BBCOR-certified bats in the 2011 season and beyond. There will be no opportunity for "grandfathering" of old bats. no comments

Metal vs Wood, some recent articles/info

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

Though I have not written much about it recently, I do not want to let the debate go.  I still feel just as strong today as I did when all my rhetoric began early last spring... here are some articles/information pieces sent to me lately... my stance and beliefs are well documented...

Coaches, players make case for metal, wood bats (Quad City Times - an Iowa/Illinois region along Mississippi River... and coincidentally, that is where I am from, Davenport, Iowa) - May 9, 2010

The Art of Hitting

 

“Hitting a baseball, I’ve said it a thousand times, is the single most difficult thing to do in sport.” - Ted Williams

 

And this comes from, arguably, the greatest hitter to ever have played the game.

 

So why is it so difficult to hit a baseball? no comments

1989 wood vs metal perspective

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

An article was forwarded to me recently, from the Sports Illustrated "Vault", which is an archive of SI articles from years past.  This particular article was written in 1989, by Peter Gammons, and it was predicting the end of wood bats in pro baseball, along with many of the arguments made today in 2010, regarding not only the differences in wood and metal bats, but also the positives and negatives of both.  Little did they know 21 years ago that the metal bat industry would be a $200M industry.  You can read the full article for yourself and there are some statements in there, for the benefit of metal, that don't fit with my beliefs but there are some rationale statements non-the-less.  Gammons predictions for the future were quite a bit off the mark in terms of metal getting into the pro game, but the article is a good one to read.

Below is the excerpt that I liked the best... and it is a subject I have been harping on for a long time, that being the dangers to pitchers, aside from safety, that metal bats pose.  The dangers detailed below do not discuss injuries to pitchers' arms, but clearly it is an effect that has become a reality.  Just ask Dr. James Andrews, whose TJ, labrum, and rotator cuff surgery business is better than he ever wanted it to be, for 14-18 year old kids.

July 24, 1989

End Of An Era

What would the Babe think? The crack of the wooden bat is being replaced by the ping of aluminum. And by the end of the next decade, the ping is likely to be heard in the majors

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Of course they favor metal bats... they are paid

Written by Blaine Clemmens on .

The San Jose Mercury News ran a couple of articles discussing D1 coaches and their preference for metal bats.  No surprise as to why they favor them, they profit, big time.  Why do they profit big time?  If you have to ask, this might be hard for you to understand... but here goes... because by cutting the coach of a major D1 program a check for $100K-$200K (more?) to use their products, the bat companies can sell more of their bats to the high school and younger aged kids.  The money they spend on lining the pockets of the coaches to be spokesmen for their product is what you call a 'loss leader' which is basically the fundamental method of all marketing and advertising ideas. 

If the same coaches were paid that much to pitch whiffle ball bats, they would, and they would tell us all the reasons whiffle bats are better for their game.  Yep, their statements are as transparent as a pane of glass.

Here is the Mercury News article in which coaches from Notre Dame, Texas, South Carolina, Texas A&M, Rice, North Carolina, Arkansas, Fullerton, Tulane, Oklahoma State, and Wichita State (you know, some smallish D1 programs just trying to get by) profess their love for the metal bat.  They are executing terms of their contracts VERY WELL with their statements, serving as spokesmen, pitchmen if you will, for the bat companies that allow them to live so comfortably.

Here is the other article where you can get an idea of exactly how much $ some of these coaches are getting to use and say they favor metal bats.  Anyone that can't see it or understand what is going on here, well, as they say, if you don't get it, you won't get it.

A snippet of that second article... and remember, these coaches are given their jobs by universities, given the opportunity to earn this extra little bit of change, yet, the universities don't see a dime of it, it goes to the coaches personal bank accounts.

"Manufacturers such as Louisville Slugger and Easton provide free bats and other gear to elite programs and pay coaches—sometimes six figures—for agreeing to use their products.  

Paul Mainieri, coach of 2009 national champion LSU, has a clause in his contract that calls for him to receive $150,000 a year from the school's athletic booster club and equipment deals. His contract does not break down how much of that money comes from Easton, the Tigers' bat supplier.

Asked about the bat issue, Mainieri said only that he prefers aluminum.

"He is concerned about saying anything that might affect his relationship with his bat company," LSU baseball spokesman Bill Franques wrote in an e-mail to The Associated Press.

Besides the coaches' paychecks, many programs save thousands of dollars a year in equipment costs because bat manufacturers supply bats for free.

"I think there's some traditionalist in all of us," said South Carolina's Ray Tanner, whose contract calls for him to receive $120,000 a year from Easton."

Oklahoma's Sunny Golloway, who prefers wood, said economics won't allow Division I to go away from metal bats, which set the college game apart from pro ball.

"If we all of a sudden are swinging a wooden bat, there's a good chance we are not the showcase anymore," he said. "I'm realistic enough to know you're not going to ask coach A or coach X to not accept his 100K check this year so they can try this wooden bat."

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