In September of 2008 a major change to College Baseball came with a simple two-page letter to all baseball bat manufacturers. Those creating the bats would “…replace the Ball Exit Speed Ratio (BESR) with the Ball-Bat Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) as the means for measuring bat performance in testing.” [Letter to Bat Manufacturers; NCAA Clearinghouse; Sept 17, 2008] While citing the increase of runs scored and home runs in games, the NCAA were interested increasing safety of those in the field from potentially damaging line drives which could seriously hurt infielders.
Over the years the familiar ‘ping’ of the aluminum bat has been a thrilling moment in the game, but also presented breathtaking situations as baseballs became missiles hurling toward infielders, and in some cases bringing times which players and fans alike held their collective breaths to see the outcome of these scenarios.
But the scariest part of the old bats in baseball was the methods given to bats to increase the “trampoline effect” in the bat; a method called “rolling” which would expedite the breaking down of the composite walls to create the effect of the ball jumping off the bat. The BESR standard only measured the speed of the ball coming toward the bat, and then leaving the bat, but the new BBCOR standard measures the bounce off the bat; the trampoline effect. If you are curious, a simple Google search would provide many websites which provide rolling services, and videos on how this condition is achieved.
With the start of the 2011 season, all bats must conform to the BBCOR standard, and the hypothesized effect is home runs will be diminished and scoring will be lower than in the last few years. And the hypothesis is looking to be true in the results from the 2010 fall practices with teams around the nation as batters are seeing fewer home runs. Once the season begins a true sampling information to see if these new rules will truly effect the era of gorilla ball in college baseball or if the NCAA will have to go back to their drawing board in the name of the safety of their student-athletes.
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