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BBCOR Project 4 and 5

Page history last edited by Travis Rodery 12 years, 4 months ago

Travis Rodery

11 December 13

Intro to College Writing


Evolution of Baseball


     That ball hit high, deep, way back, it’s going, going, and caught at the warning track by the outfielder.  The hitter must have thought he got all of that one Joe; it must be those new bats they have to use now.  This has been the main topic and focus in college baseball within the last year. The NCAA Baseball Research Panel has studied all the ins and outs of the equipment used by the athletes in collegiate baseball, such as bats and balls, since 1999.  The NCAA Research Panel has been teamed up with the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee to investigate trends in the game and suggest changes when needed (Mcfarlin).  The Panel found the previous standard of the Bat Exit Speed Ratio (BESR) was ineffective in measuring the true performance of the bat (Olsen).  With the increasing offensive production through the years, the Committee sought to find a more accurate prediction of the speed with which the ball will leave the bat, and use non-wood bats that performed more closely to that of a wood bat (Farnum). The “new” bat, BBCOR, has taken America’s past time and flipped it upside side down.  Even though many people disagree with this new bat and rules, I agree with the NCAA about the new rules.  BBCOR bats are suitable for both college and high school baseball because they make the best players stand out, it makes the game much safer, and it makes baseball return to its finest.


     What in the world is a BBCOR bat and why did they make it?  Effective since Jan. 1, 2011, bats used in NCAA competition will have a different standard, making metal bats behave more like wooden ones.  BBCOR stands for “Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution” and it focuses on how much of a trampoline effect the barrel of a bat has on a ball.  When a ball hits an aluminum bat, the barrel compresses a small amount, causing the ball to “bounce” back quickly.     This is known as the trampoline effect.  In order to reduce the significance of the trampoline effect, NCAA regulations prohibit a bat from having a BBCOR coefficient higher than 0.500, which is about the same as a wooden bat (Olsen).  This new measure, which will significantly limit bat power, is intended to reduce injury.  The new Batted-Ball Coefficient of Restitution measures the bat power differently than the former beloved Ball Exit Speed Ration (BESR) method.  Instead of measuring the ball after it is batted, which the old BESR method measured, the new BBCOR math formula measures the “bounciness” or “pop” of the bat.  Bat manufacturers will have to; in effect “deaden” the trampoline bounce that pitched balls experience when a batter makes contact (Farnum).  Basically, aluminum bats will theoretically be the same as wooden bats (Wolff). They’re the next wave in the aluminum bat battle. Starting in January, 2011, any and all aluminum baseball bats that are used in NCAA baseball will have to carry a seal of BBCOR approval. Then, starting in 2012, all HS baseball bats will follow in the same way; that is, they will all need at BBCOR stamp on each bat (Olsen).  A simple way to think of BBCOR is to jump up and down on a hard floor. It takes a lot of energy in your legs to get off the ground. The floor doesn't help at all. Contrast that feeling by jumping on a trampoline. Even with very little energy from your body, you will still get a bounce because that energy isn't being absorbed by the trampoline. (Wolff).  Instead, the trampoline is flexing with the impact and then "bouncing" back to its original shape, thus launching you higher into the air.  BESR and BBCOR having many differences but they are brought upon us by companies to do the same thing, and that it is to hit the ball.


     After several years of escalating game times and rising concerns for player safety, the NCAA decided to take a stance against the prodigious offensive output in college baseball (Rogers). “The NCAA did not mandate the new bats to reduce power…this was done for safety reasons…It wasn’t going to be long before someone was seriously hurt or maybe worse”. Shawn Davis, the Assistant Director at the University of Missouri Athletic Media Relations, tells the public why the NCAA has switched its rules in the last two years.  Like every sport, baseball has its fair share of injuries that occur.  Injuries like muscle pulls and tears are common among many pitchers.  These types of injuries can be prevented very simply.  The solution is being flexible, and being fit is key for back and shoulder injuries, sprains and breaks. All it takes is a warm-up before a game, plus five minutes of stretches, to keep muscles and joints limber, supple, and resilient (Price).  When it comes to injuries like broken bones and concussions, the prevention is not as easy.  The pitcher cannot control all of his pitches, and an infielder cannot tell if a bad hop is going to happen on a ground ball.  A hitter cannot control where exactly he hits the ball, and sometimes the ball will hit the pitcher.  For example, with the old BESR bats, a California high school pitcher, Gunnar Sandberg, is recovering from a traumatic brain injury suffered on March 11, 2010 after he was hit in the head with a line drive. Sandberg was pitching in a scrimmage when he was hit by a line drive just above his right ear.  Doctors said if it was hit in a different spot nearby, it would have killed him (Ziegler).  Teenagers with the old bats were hurting players; imagine the damage that top notch college athletes could do.   It is pretty scary to think about.  With the new BBCOR bats, the ball will not come off the bat as fast and do as much damage to the pitcher’s body.  “It’s pretty close to swinging with wood,” Harvard coach Joe Walsh said. “They’ve taken the thump out of the aluminum, and I think that you’re just not going to see the home-run ball in college baseball that you’ve seen in the past.”  Taking the “thump” out of metal bats is exactly what the NCAA is trying to do, hoping that the new bats will increase player safety, specifically for pitchers. With the old bats, balls would come flying at pitchers at an average speed of 93 MPH; sometimes reaching up past 100 mph (Shepard).  Pitchers would have little to no time to react to the high-paced balls careening toward them, creating highly dangerous situations.  The new bats reduce the exit speed of the ball off of the barrel, giving pitchers and other athletes on the diamond more time to move to protect them.


     Though the main goal of the new regulations is to reduce injury, the more noticeable effect will be a sharp decline in power numbers throughout the NCAA this season (Mcfarlin).  Keeping a low BBCOR coefficient means a change in the composition of aluminum bats and, more significantly, a reduced “sweet spot” of the bat.  From a player's viewpoint, the sweet spot is the place on the bat barrel where the contact between bat and ball results in the best hit.  When you make contact on it, the ball leaves the bat with the greatest speed and the player's hands feel very little vibration from the impact.  New bats will approximately have a three-inch sweet spot as opposed to the previous five inches (Rogers).  The smaller the sweet spot the harder it is to hit a ball solid and drive it a far distance.  “I hit a home run in our first game that went pretty far over the fence, but I hit it about as well as you can hit it. You don’t get cheated with the new bats,” said former Wayne State great Paul Lamantia, who hit 13 home runs in 2010.  Due to the bigger sweet spots, players could hit a ball off the end or the inner part of the bat and still get a solid hit, but not with the new ones.  Batters will be forced to make more accurate contact with the ball in order to get the same results as they could have gotten with the old bats.  The substantially smaller sweet spot and lower ball exit speed are also expected to lead to fewer hits, home runs, and scored runs. Players who will bat over .300 and have double digit home runs will not be average anymore, they will be the elite (Price).  These players will stand out because now the bat is not providing that extra power for the hitting.  Training and a good swing will be the main focus and the only the best players have and do these things.  While the newer, deader bats might make the game less exciting to watch for some, they should prove helpful to MLB scouts looking to really hone in on the true values of college sluggers. For years, there has been a concern that power in college won't translate into power in the Minor or Major Leagues because of the difference in bat behavior from metal to wood (Shepard).  Now, it seems the new BBCOR regulations will significantly reduce the performance gap between the two bat styles, making it easier to distinguish between a player with a pure stroke and one with a little fat-barreled luck (Mcfarlin).  Wayne State outfielder Kyle Zimmerman stated “If you hit it off the end or handle, the bat doesn’t help you very much. The balls just don’t come off the bats at all. I think balls come off harder off a wood bat after playing in the summer.”  Batters will need to refine their hitting skills in order to accommodate for the increased difficulty in making contact.     

     Baseball, a sport billed as America's "national pastime," has relatively recent origins.  Why would people want to call America’s past time a sport?  Originally, baseball comes from Rounder’s that the British invented for small kids, and it became an extremely popular sport during and just after the American Civil War (Spurlock).  It was called "America's Pastime" because during the late 19th and early 20th century it was the most widely played sport in the country.  Baseball was to that time period as video games and televisions are to today.  It was very cheap, all you needed was a ball from the drug store, one bag, and kids did not even need to have gloves sometimes.  Before television, baseball was what kids did after school, on the weekends, and during the summer.  It was literally how America passed the time, hence the name “past time”.  Over the past several centuries, the game has changed from a form that was hardly recognizable to that which can be seen in nearly every town of the United States.  But once baseball was created, it caught on almost immediately.  This is why so many people are very hesitant to change the rules of the game today.  They believe that it will alter the nature of the game.  We often hear the line, “that is baseball at its finest”.  But what exactly does that even mean?  Baseball at its finest is teams doing the little things in order to win a game.  There are many things to be done in order for a team to stay in a game and eventually win it.  Let’s dissect and break down what it means to play the game of baseball at its finest, and why the new BBCOR bats will make it that way.  The team with the least errors and mistakes is more likely to win more games.  Staying concentrated and fielding a ground ball properly or catching it, add in a nice hard accurate throw and that makes one great play.  Mental and physical mistakes in a ball game will kill a team.  Pitchers getting batters to hit into an out rather than striking everyone out so they can save their arms and go to the later innings.  That is what baseball is all about, not going up to the plate and trying to do everything yourself and trying to hit a homerun.  Playing small ball and everyone helping out to get runs is what baseball is all about.  As we know, homeruns will not come as easy anymore, so say goodbye to high scoring games.  “The intent has always been to balance offense and defense in all rules we have and to allow many different styles of play,” said Ty Halpin, NCAA liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee.  Some teams will be forced to change their game plan to adapt to this decrease in offensive power.  For example, instead of having a big-hitting mentality, teams may need to hit and run, bunt, or steal bases more often (Price).  Just ask Duke University head baseball coach Sean McNally about changing his team’s strategy. “Our overall style of play has evolved a little bit,” McNally said. “I think we are trying to bunt and hit and run and our numbers have been more aggressive on the bases early in the season. I think earlier in games you’ll see people do more to try to push a run or two across or bring the infield in to cut a run off because scoring will definitely be down.”   Defensively, players will need to polish their fielding skills and be ready for more in-field hits as opposed to high fly balls.


     The issue that goes along the line with BBCOR bats is issue with corked bats.  People are and have been very hesitant in changing the nature of bats.  Major League Baseball, or the MLB for short, uses wood bats because it creates less force than an aluminum bat.  Players have always been trying to find a way to create more pop of the bat.  Whether it be the use of a smaller bat, a heavier bat, a double waxed bat, or even putting bouncy balls in a bat.  The way the players found to best improve the bat was corking it.  What is corking a bat and how do you do it?  Corking a bat the traditional way is a relatively easy thing to do.  First, you drill a hole in the end of the bat, about 1-inch in diameter, and about 10-inches deep.  Then, you fill the hole with cork, super balls, or Styrofoam.  After, you glue a wooden plug, like a 1-inch dowel, in to the end. Most importantly, you sand the end to cover the evidence (Russell).  Some sources suggest smearing a bit of glue on the end of the bat and sprinkling sawdust over it so help camouflage the work you have done.  It is really an advantage though?  To discover this, scientist took it to the field to test.  They found that there is no scientific advantage to hitting homeruns, which most hitters want to do.  However, due to the bat being lighter, the hitter will be able to swing faster; a player can also wait a few milliseconds longer before committing to a swing because of this. This means he can watch the pitched ball travel about five or six more feet before deciding to swing.  For a slumping player this may help make contact with the ball more often (Russell).  But, a corked bat will not make the ball go faster or further, not resulting in any long balls hit into the bleachers.  Even though the corked bats may not bring in a hitting advantage, it can bring in a psychological advantage.  Many people in baseball believe in superstitions, whether it be not washing your socks or always wearing sunglasses on your hat even if it is not sunny out (Russell).  A player will do anything they can to help make them feel like they are at the top of their game.  This brings back the point of the BBCOR bats.  Many hitters felt confident with hitting with the BESR bats and now they do not have they much needed confidence with the new bats when they come to the plate.  Baseball players will do whatever it takes to have an advantage, whether it means breaking the rules or not they still do it.


     Bat companies and researchers are coming up with brand new ideas every single day.  On Sept. 16, 2008 the NCAA Baseball Research Panel and Baseball Rules Committee adopted a standard of .50 in Ball-Bat Coefficient Restitution testing, which represents only a marginally higher bat performance than top-quality wooden bats.  Even though it was designed in 2008, BBCOR did not go into full effect Jan. 1, 2011 (Price).  This means that bat researchers are coming up with new bat ideas at this very moment.  Bats have changed drastically from the 80’s to the 2000’s.  Look at the difference in material and the force the bats generate now that they did a long time ago.  This is why I believe the bats are suitable because they will be changed again in a couple years.  In a couple years, companies will find a way for players to hit and drive a ball faster and further like they did before.  Many people who are opposed to the new bat often say that the bat was just a money stunt done to gain more money.  Bat are already over priced as it is, they would cost the same and even sometimes less now-a-days.  Coaches and players, relax and play your game, new technology will be here faster than you know it.


     BBCOR bats are not only suitable for college baseball, but for high school baseball as well.  With the new technology in the bats, they make the best players stand out, it makes the game much safer, and it makes baseball return to its purest.  New rules and bat changes in college baseball are changing the game as we know it.  BBCOR bats are now being used over BESR bats and they are providing less power to the hitters.  Fewer home runs are being hit and it is causing only the best players to stand out.  The safety of the players, mostly the pitchers, is the main reason why these changes needed to be implemented.  Baseball has not only changed but it has finally returned to its finest and teams are starting to adjust.  Hitters need to realize the bat does not make them good players; they do, so deal with the new bat and take a hack one time.
























Works Citied

Farnum, Amy. "Opinions Mixed on BBCOR Impact - NCAA.com." NCAA.com – The Official Website of NCAA Championships. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://www.ncaa.com/news/baseball/2011-02-24/opinions-mixed-bbcor-impact>.

Mcfarlin, Kevin. "Baseball Bat BBCOR Rating Will Turn the Baseball World Upside Down! | The Baseball Bat Reviews Blog." The Baseball Bat Reviews Blog. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://www.baseballbatreviewsblog.com/baseball-bat-reviews/baseball-bat-bbcor-rating-will-turn-the-baseball-world-upside-down>.

Olsen, Steve. "The BBCOR Bat Standard." Stevetheump.com. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://www.stevetheump.com/BBCOR.htm>.

Price, Stuart. "New Baseball Bats Befuddle College Hitters | The Chronicle." The Chronicle | The Independent Daily at Duke University. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://dukechronicle.com/article/new-baseball-bats-befuddle-college-hitters>.

Rogers, Kendall. "Storylines Abound as New Season Arrives - College Baseball - Rivals.com." College Sports: Rivals.com. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://rivals.yahoo.com/ncaa/baseball/news?slug=kr-nationalstorylines011011>.

Russell, Dan. "What about Corked Bats?" Kettering University - 1700 University Avenue - Flint, Michigan 48504-6214. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://www.kettering.edu/physics/drussell/bats-new/corkedbat.html>.

Shepard, Greg. "BBCOR or BBCRAP!" HITHARDERNOW.COM. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://hithardernow.blogspot.com/2011/09/bbcor-or-bbcrap.html>.

Spurlock, Chris. "How the New BBCOR Regulations Will Affect Baseball as We Know It - Beyond the Box Score." Beyond the Box Score - A Saber-Slanted Baseball Community. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://www.beyondtheboxscore.com/2011/3/3/2026434/how-the-new-bbcor-regulations-will-affect-baseball-as-we-know-it>.

Wolff, Mike. "What the Heck Is a BBCOR Bat? « Ask Coach Wolff." Ask Coach Wolff. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://askcoachwolff.com/2010/08/08/what-the-heck-is-a-bbcor-bat/>.

Ziegler, Terry. "Controversy over Aluminum Bats Surfaces in California." Sports Injuries, Sports Medicine, Injury Treatment Videos, and Find a Doctor. Web. 12 Dec. 2011. <http://www.sportsmd.com/SportsMD_Articles/id/363.aspx>.

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