New bat standard changes baseball speed

For the past several years, the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) has noticed a rise in home runs and runs scored with collegiate, high school and youth baseball leagues. This rise has been attributed to the use of non-wood bats, such as composite bats whose performances improve with use, and has led the NCAA to adjust its bat standards.

Effective Jan. 1, 2011, is the NCAA’s new Ball-Bat Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) standard, which will eliminate discrepancies with bat lengths and provide a more direct measure of bat performance.

The NCAA’s goal behind the BBCOR standard is twofold: to improve safety for pitchers and for non-wood bats to perform similarly to wood bats, which don’t have a trampoline effect for greater speed and distance unlike non-wood baseball bats. And according to the NCAA, wood and non-wood bats that are BBCOR certified will produce the same batted-ball speeds and therefore BBCOR bats are approved for the 2011 and 2012 American Legion Baseabll season.

But the question remaining is how the new bat regulations will affect American Legion Baseball where composite and aluminum bats are prevalent.

For the 2011 season, Legion Baseball teams will adhere to the previous NCAA bat standard, Ball Exit Speed Ratio (BESR). Thus, all bats that have aluminum barrel and pass the BESR test will be allowed on the playing field. The American Legion has placed a moratorium on BESR composite bats, including composite handle bats for the 2011 season.  

However, as of 2012, American Legion Baseball will adopt the BBCOR standard to adhere to the National Federation of High School rules and NCAA rules. BESR bats will be banned and BBCOR certified bats will be incorporated with a logo to help umpires and coaches identify approved bats.

In the meantime, baseball bat companies are scrambling to meet the requirements of the new BBCOR standard, while many $400 composite and aluminum bats that will not meet the new regulations sit in stores untouched.