2012-04-19 / Sports

Bat changes provide more safety, not popular to all

BY ERIK HOHENTHANER
810-452-2641 • ehohenthaner@mihomepaper.com


The Rip-It Prototype II, Rawlings 5150 Velo, Easton XL1, Easton S1 and the DeMarini CF5 new BBCOR baseball bats that high school teams are using starting this season. 
Photo by Erik Hohenthaner The Rip-It Prototype II, Rawlings 5150 Velo, Easton XL1, Easton S1 and the DeMarini CF5 new BBCOR baseball bats that high school teams are using starting this season. Photo by Erik Hohenthaner LAPEER — The Michigan High School Athletic Association changed its policy on the types of bats that can be used in baseball in the state this spring.

In the past, BESR (Ball Exit Speed Ratio) certified bats were used not only in the state, but at the National Collegiate Athletic Association level, as well. It was determined that these bats were too ‘hot’ and were deemed unsafe not only for the pitchers, but for the fielders because they came off the bats too fast.

The ball exit speed was exceeding 100 miles per hour when the ball was hit on the sweet spot on the bat and it was deemed pitchers and fielders did not have enough reaction time to defend themselves. Serious injuries including death have occurred from being hit in the head from a batted ball.

Michigan adopted the new BBCOR (Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution) certified bats along with the majority of the United State this spring. New York City and North Dakota use wooden bats. The NCAA level adopted the bats last spring and saw a dip in extra-base hits and home runs. The same is expected at the high school level.

The BBCOR certified bats are deemed much safer, as the ball exit speed will never exceed 95 mph regardless of who is hitting the ball. This will give pitchers and fielders more time to field the ball and be able to protect themselves from batted balls.

In essence, a BBCOR bat will hit and act like a wooden bat when hit on its sweet spot compared to the old aluminum bats. To compare, a high school softball bat has a ball exit speed of up to 98 mph.

“A difference in the BBCOR over the BESR bats is a difference in performance level is the velocity as they are capped out at 95 mph exit speed,” said Matt Jones, owner of Bullpen Sports in Burton and pitching coach for the Mott Community College baseball team. “The top-end BESR bats hit a lot higher than that. The BBCOR hit more like a wood bat. Acutally, a Major League Baseball bat hit on the sweet spot will hit a ball harder and farther than a BBCOR bat though the sweet spot is a little bit bigger on the BBCOR bats. Even if Prince Fielder or Miguel Cabrera swung a BBCOR bat, they would not hit it above 95 mph exit speed.”

LakeVille coach Drew Johnson was concerned about how his team would perform with the new bats before the season began. “We do not have a lot of power as a team and I fear these new (BBCOR) bats will make it even harder on us,” Johnson said. “The new bats are going to affect the high school game. They hit with 25 percent less power. The ball won’t travel as well.”

“We had to use the bats last season so this is our second year with them, but we only hit like 10 home runs as a team last year, but we have seven so far this year,” Jones said of Mott. “But, there is definitely a cut-down on scoring, extra base hits and home runs.”

Parents and players concerned about having to buy a new bat should not worry about the price of the new bats.

“The price is about the same in comparable models,” said Jones. “Originally, the price may have gone up five or 10 bucks, but with some of the pricing I have got for the 2013 season, the prices have either stayed the some or some of them have even dropped.”

Anyone looking to find a good BBCOR bat should look to the Rip-It Prototype II, Rawlings 5150 Velo, DeMarini CF5 or the Easton S1 or XL1, according to Jones. He mentions most of the bats come with good warranty plans and priced at a reasonable amount.

Fans, players and coaches may not like the results at first with less runs, extra base hits and home runs at the high school level, but in the end, the increase in safety is the most important factor and should not be overlooked.

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