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HOT BATS: They’re Going Going Gone

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The pitcher winds up and fires toward the plate.  The batter swings from the heels and makes contact.  Thinking home run, he trots toward first, only to break into a sprint as he sees the ball fall short of the fence.
 
It’s a scene that will be repeated on many high-school baseball fields this spring, as most leagues begin their first season of play using bats engineered to perform more like the wood bats of old.  This change is due to the implementation of a new test – the Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) – that a bat must pass, before it’s approved for play by the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).  The new requirement has been in effect in NCAA play since January 2011.
 
While bats were subject to regulation prior to this year, the old BESR test measured the speed of the ball coming off the bat, a number that varied as bats were broken in.  The new BBCOR specification measures the bounciness of “pop” of the bat and is a better indication of performance.
 
The result is a bat that generates 10 to 15 percent less ball velocity than previously allowed composite and aluminum bats.  The 2011 NCAA season bore this out, as production fell.  According to Daniel A. Russell of The Pennsylvania State University, batting averages, home runs and earned-run averages for the 2011 NCAA season dropped to pre-aluminum-bat levels – the lowest in over 30 years.
 
Many students of the game count diminished bat performance as a plus, since BBCOR-spec bats perform much like major-league wood bats, thereby enabling comparison.  What’s more, according to the NFHS, the BBCOR requirement is expected to minimize risk, improve play and increase teaching opportunities.
 
Ballplayers like to see the ball soar at the crack of their bat, so the new BBCOR requirement isn’t getting a lot of love at the student-athlete level, but some have displayed a positive attitude.  Responding to an article on baseballbatreviewsblog.com, one athlete said, “The BBCOR bats have no pop, so I’ll stop complaining and square the ball up to get the pop, basically get better at hitting.”
 
In most leagues, players will have the option of using BBCOR-approved non-wood bats or wood bats.  Dunham’s offers both.  Among the most popular BBCOR bats are the Easton Power Brigade performance bats.  Because power is a function of mass and speed, these bats are engineered to optimize both sides of the equation.  The Speed Series bats provide a little help for players who need more at speed.  For power hitters who can swing with the best of them, Easton offers the XL Series with extra large barrels.  Because most of the mass is in the barrel, the bats offer a very large hitting surface.
 
Dunham’s sales consultants can help ballplayers, large and small, choose the best bat for their game.
 
-Home Run Hitter
 
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