(Ed. Note: Kyle Danielson is a football, basketball and baseball standout at Cape Elizabeth High School. He will attend and play baseball at Dickinson College in Carlisle, Penn., next year. He has been job shadowing with The Forecaster as part of the school’s Senior Transition Project)
High school baseball is expected to drastically change next year when the way the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) will mandate the use of new bats.
The rule specifies that the bat should be a smooth cylinder implement from the top of the cap to the top of the knob and will also require that all non-wood bats meet the Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) performance standard, which is the standard used by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Formerly, non-wood bats had to meet the Ball Exit Speed Ratio (BESR) standard.
All high school programs will be making the switch, resulting in much duller bats.
College programs switched to the bats this year and it’s been a completely different game, one now predominantly controlled by the pitchers. There have been far fewer players blasting extra base hits and the number of home runs has drastically gone down.
College players have not liked playing with these new bats at all because of the effect they’ve had on their batting averages and the way they’ve been hitting the ball. These bats have been demoralizing to players.
Next year, with high school players using these same bats, one can expect coaches to take the “small ball” approach to their game.
Players will not be hitting 400-foot home runs and people will not be seeing too many deep shots to the gaps. Pitchers will be content though, because they most likely won’t be giving up as many runs.
Games will be won with fewer runs, and each and every run will be critical.
Though the changing of these bats may be safer to the players, the overall effect they will have on the game will be for the worse.
High school baseball could be painful to play and watch in the upcoming years. The quality of play may even go down. The effect could result in even fewer players being interested in the game and more baseball players converting to other spring sports, such as wildly-popular lacrosse.
We will not know the result until next spring when we see what the game is like with these new bats.
Judging from colleges’ infuriated hitters, the bats will most likely hurt the game and some college players said they’d rather swing wood.
Now, there’s an idea that may be long overdue.