A new type of bat is likely to take much of the ping out of Niagara Frontier League spring baseball this season.
The National Federation of State High School Associations, which writes the rules for most high school sports in the United States, has switched to BBCOR bats this season, replacing the old BESR-approved ones of the past. The NFL will follow suit.
BBCOR, which stands for Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution, is a new method of measuring ball speed off of a composite bat. It will replace the BESR (Ball Exit Speed Ratio) as the certification method for all approved bats in the NFL.
The changeover is meant to promote safety at lower-league levels.
“The ball was coming off the bats so hard last year,” Niagara Falls coach Joe Contento said. “Some of the kids are so big and strong now, it was getting unsafe for pitchers and third basemen. I wish we’d go wood across the board. It’s just been way too fast the last couple of years.”
The new bats are still made of a composite alloy, but will replicate wooden bats in how fast the ball comes off the bat. The sweet spot is smaller, and there’s a difference in how the weight is distributed, said Kenmore East head coach Leslie Simon.
“The new bats feel heavier to batters,” he said. “A 32 (ounce) now feels heavier than a 32 last year. They’ve redistributed the weight so that it’s more on the handle and the shaft than in the sweet spot. It kills some of the torque we used to see on the old bats. ... It’s made a difference but it hasn’t completely killed offenses. We’re still seeing shots come off these bats. The fundamentals of baseball are still the same: good pitching, quality defense, don’t give more than 27 outs and get timely hitting.”