New bats reduce high school power game

Thursday, Dec. 20th 2012

Where aluminum bats use to accelerate the speed of baseball, new BBCOR (batted ball coefficient of resolution) bats have placed the speed of the games in the hands of the players. J. Mike Blake and Tim Stevens wrote about the new regulations for high school aluminum bats in an article entitled New bats reduce high school baseball power game. The article discusses the direct affect new bats have had on baseball in Smithfield, South Carolina, while it also indirectly addresses the long term affects the new bats will have on high school ball. While new high school regulations of aluminum bats have caused a decrease in offensive numbers for this particular district in South Carolina, the regulation of aluminum bats will have a correlation towards better mechanics at the high school level, for the future.

The article New bats reduce high school baseball power game addresses, through statistical means, the pernicious effect new BBCOR bats have had on high school baseball offense. Where as BESR bats, the old standard measurement for aluminum bats, measured the speed of the baseball after it was hit, new BBCOR bats, the new standard, measures the bats bounciness or trampoline affect. BESR measurements and restrictions were deemed ineffective and hazardous. BESR allowed bats to propel baseballs at a maximum of 97 MPH, but studies indicated that a bat’s BESR increased after the bat had been used, sometimes by 10 to 15 miles per hour. As a result, for safety reasons, the National Federation of State High School Associations changed the standard in January for metal high school bats. Smithfield-Selma coach Mike Joyner said his teams usually hit 30 or more home runs in a season. This year, they’ve hit five. Joyner’s teams have traditionally batted .315 in recent years, but his team has only batted .268 this year.

The new restrictions on aluminum bats have caused teams to develop different offensive strategies, but these bats will ultimately cause better mechanics for hitters. The News Observer article said the new aluminum bats have caused teams to adjust their in game strategies, and coaches are more likely to sacrifice bunt to set up a scoring opportunity. Smithfield-Selma shortstop Max Schrock said, “You see a lot more bunting, a lot more hit and runs.” Without proper mechanics to create runs with new bats, coaches have had the knee jerk reaction to try and create runs on their own. However, some believe that there is another way to view “small ball.” The run probability with a runner on first and no outs is .953 runs per inning. The run probability with a runner on second and one out—where a base runner would be after a successful bunt from first to second—is .725 runs per inning, and worse than the alternative of not bunting (run probabilities take for The Book by Tom Tango. Instead on small ball techniques, coaches should be motivated to teach their players correct batting techniques to generate offense. Hitting will take time to catch up to the new bats. But, once hitting catches up, the level of high school baseball batters will have risen as well.

New aluminum bats have changed the landscape of high school baseball. This change, for the short term, has had a negative affect while coaches try to manufacture runs in foul territory next to third base. For the long term, the future of high school hitting is bright. Over the next decade there will be several shifts in high school baseball. For now, pitchers have found success while hitters adjust to new aluminum bats. Once hitters do catch up, batters will surpass hitters because of better fundamentals and coaching techniques that are more advanced than their counterparts.

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