Blog Entry

College baseball undergoing major change in bats

Posted on: February 20, 2011 12:46 pm
Edited on: April 18, 2011 12:29 pm
 

FeatherstoneAh, the sweet sounds of baseball... the ball smacking in the glove, the ping off the bat...

Yep, college baseball is gearing up for its season amid the trademark ping of its aluminum bats.

However, the bats players will use this season are drastically different from previous bats, ones that scorched line drives, struck mortal fear in infielders and launched moon shots. A new rule has been instituted which could change college baseball forever -- but figures to improve scouting on a MLB level.

The NCAA has decreed all new bats must meet the .50 figure submitted by the Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR), using bats made of aluminum alloy, solid wood, solid wood laminate, solid bamboo laminate, hollow fiber composite and multiple-material composites. 

That's a mouthful, so let's make it simple: NCAA has deadened the aluminum bats, so the days of an off-balance flailing of a pitch down and away turning into a home run are gone. Indeed, as mentioned in a recent Baseball America article, Texas coach Augie Garrido noted home-run numbers in batting practices have dropped from 15 to 20 all the way down to five or six. Similarly, LSU coch Paul Mainieri says home runs dropped from 36 in 2008 to only six in fall intrasquad games.

"The new bats don't have the same pop, that same trampoline feel, and my first hits didn't go as far, maybe like 30 feet less," UCLA sophomore Beau Amaral told the Orange County Register. It's tough on everybody. Our coach even made a rule that we can't complain about the bats anymore."

Despite the precipitous home-run drop, professional scouts have indicated the new setup is far more accurate at predicting success on a big league level. The impact of this can't be understated, as players that may have otherwise flown under the radar, not been drafted and went home could morph into baseball stars while those whose games were all about aluminum will see their luster fall. For all the money poured into the draft and scouting, this could represent major cost-savings while boosting the quality of pro ball.

"The new bats are doing what they are supposed to do, which is act like wood," UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie confirmed. "They take like five percent of the flight off the ball from last year. ... I still see hard hit line drives. I see doubles. I just think that the flyball that used to loft over the fence isn't doing it now."

This is all a positive, but there's one negative, which comes at the college baseball level. Players and coaches alike believe college teams will start promoting small-ball tendencies such as bunting, steals and baserunning. That could in turn affect recruiting with coaches going after fast, contact hitters instead of sluggers.

The new rule also has a chance of influencing professional baseball as the pool of available college hitters drops in power potential. After all, you can't draft a potential 40-home run hitter if the player can't get a scholarship in favor of someone who can swipe 40 bases. Given power often develops late, however, this may end up a non-factor. In addition, only the stars at the college level tend to get noticed and drafted, so this will likely only affect those in which college is their last stop in playing baseball. The stars should remain in the game, just with lesser offensive numbers -- but, again, their statistics will be more translatable to pro ball.

-- Evan Brunell

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PHOTO: TCU Horned Frogs infielder Taylor Featherston (12) hits a home run against the UCLA Bruins in the ninth inning during game 11 of the 2010 College World Series championships at Rosenblatt Stadium. TCU defeated UCLA 6-2.

Category: MLB
Comments

Since: Dec 27, 2008
Posted on: February 21, 2011 3:12 pm
 

College baseball undergoing major change in bats

"This is all a positive, but there's one negative, which comes at the college baseball level. Players and coaches alike believe college teams will start promoting small-ball tendencies such as bunting, steals and baserunning. That could in turn affect recruiting with coaches going after fast, contact hitters instead of sluggers."

Where is the negative in this?  Go back and watch hilight reels of the mid to late 90s if u want juicers mashing the ball dipstick.



Since: Aug 22, 2006
Posted on: February 20, 2011 11:14 pm
 

College baseball undergoing major change in bats

The reason they don't is a simple matter of cost. Even though there are a number of schools playing NCAA Div I that probably could afford to either A) pay for a season's worth of wooden bats themsleves or B) are able to pull off a sponsorship deal to have them subsidized , the playing field would not be level. It's just not in the budgets of most schools to spend that kind of money to pay for a season's worth of bats. That and there are MANY Division I schools in which baseball is a non-scholarship sport because they don't have the money to offer. Most of the college players are like the high school and on down players. The bats they use they bought themselves and many of those bats aren't cheap. But it will last them a career in college.

A lot of the kids in off-season leagues play in so called "wooden bat" tournaments where the bats are provided. Same with little league. I did radio play-by-play for a Div I NCAA school and they would on occasion play a regular season game against a non-league opponent (usually an in-state opponent) and use wooden bats upon agreement.

I like the new rule and plan to catch a few games to see the effects. It was very tough to see some kids who hit well in college and I just knew weren't going to make it to the bigs because either they had home run power that would be long outs in the pros or hard line drive hitters that found the gaps that would be soft liners later. Not to mention the whole safety factor. I could be assured of at least 2-3 times a season a pitcher would have to leave the game due to a line drive back up the box. There simply is zero time to react.



Since: Sep 13, 2006
Posted on: February 20, 2011 9:42 pm
 

College baseball undergoing major change in bats

So why not use wooden bats from little league ball all the way up?

... and is it a bad thing if fundamentals like defense, base running and contact hitting take over college baseball?  Home runs are an exciting part of the game, but so are the two out hits and spectacular defensive plays, stolen bases..  etc..

Let's see how it goes...


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