They’re the next wave in the aluminum bat battle. Starting in January, 2011, any and all aluminum baseballs that are used in NCAA baseball will have to carry a seal of BBCOR approval.
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. Bat manufacturers will have to, in effect “deaden” the trampoline bounce that pitched balls experience when a batter makes contact. Basically, aluminum bats will theoretically be the same as wooden bats.
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.
Will this work? No one, of course, knows. Will aluminum bats become just as dull as wood bats? Well, many years ago, when aluminum bats were first introduced in the early 1970s, the original aluminum models were heavy and the ball did not jump off them. The only real advantage of using a metal bat in those days was that they wouldn’t break on an inside pitch; batters benefitted by getting cheap dink hits to the outfield instead of having to deal with broken bats.
So are the new BBCOR bats going to be like the old ones from 40 years ago? Probably not. Instead, I imagine the new bats will continue to be light-weight, easy to swing, and feature a very large sweet spot. At least that’s what I think.
And who knows? Maybe the aluminum bat manufacturers will come up with some way to give the BBCOR bats a stronger trampoline effect after repeated usage – -just like many of the composite bats do now. This past June at the College World Series in Omaha, more than 30 composite bats were thrown out of competitive play because their barrels were too springy. The irony is that these bats were legal when they were first purchased, but after repeated use, the resins in the bats became springier and thus gave batted balls greater exit speed off the bat.
Confused by all of this? Well, I am too. There’s only one simple answer that gets rid of all this nonsense — just tell kids that they’re only allowed to use wood bats. After all, that’s what they use in pro ball, and the game seems pretty good to me.