New baseball jargon: BBCOR

While filming the above video, Oak Park-River Forest catcher Jack Picchiotti drove a ball right over the head of his batting practice pitcher, coach Chris Ledbetter. Ledbetter ducked in time.

Picchiotti was using his old aluminum bat, which is now forbidden from use in future high school games.

Said Ledbetter: “I forgot how hard those bats can hit.”

What has been removed from the game is the “trampoline” effect that gave the old aluminum bats an extra punch with a much bigger sweet spot.

It’s a new era in high school baseball. And batting practice pitchers, even game day pitchers, are grateful. Beginning this season, the state’s high school batters must use BBCOR certified bats, which were adopted by the NCAA last season. For the techno geeks, BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) replaces the old standard called BESR (Ball Exit Speed Ratio). In short, BBCOR bats remain as longer lasting alloy or composite bats, but they behave like wood bats.

The new bats must have the following logo:

I found one website that actually compiled a mathematical formula for the performance of the new BBCOR bat. I’m not sure even a skilled mathematician can handle this one:

It seems like everyone has an opinion about the new bats. “Obviously, we have seen a difference. There is no doubt about it,” said Ledbetter, the veteran coach of the No. 3-ranked Huskies, according to YourSeason.com.

OPRF has hit only one home run this season through 10 games. The Huskies hit 40 home runs last season. Ledbetter said he likes to see line drives and scoring, but admits to having to change his coaching philosophy. The short game is back in high school baseball.

“I have bunted more in the first 10 games this year than I have in the last five years. However, I like to see balls driven,” Ledbetter said.

It is an unscientific sample, but the Huskies averaged 8.2 runs per game while getting off to a 6-4 record last season. This year’s team owned a 9-1 record to start the season, but has averaged 6.8 runs.

Ledbetter has one major concern about the new bats and he is interested in how his players on the Freshman team will adjust after using the traditional aluminum bats during their youth baseball careers. Even the old high school bats were limited to a minus-3 drop, the ratio between the length and weight of the bat, but Little League teams don’t have similar restrictions and some junior-high aged players will use bats with a drop as great as a minus-7.

Will freshmen get turned off from the game by using a less effective BBCOR bat?

“I think the [BBCOR bat] is a step too far for a 14-year-old kid,” Ledbetter said.

YourSeason.com writer Mike Clark wrote about the new bats before the season. Pioneer Press writer Matt Harness followed up earlier this month with predictably negative reaction from some batters. Sean Duncan (pictured right) , the Editor of Prep Baseball Report, calls this the “Dead Ball Era” of high school baseball.

At the varsity level, batted balls were not only a danger to pitchers, but coaches noticed strange things during games with the old bats.

“Something had to be done,” Ledbetter said. “You would get guys that would hit the ball off their fists and they would get singles.”

In softball, concern for pitchers a few years ago forced officials to move the mound back by three feet to better reflect the college game. Today, it is no longer a strange sight to see high school softball pitchers, or even third basemen, with face masks while on the field. But it would be impossible to change the dimensions of a game as traditional as baseball, even when the “ping” sound of a ball off the bat sounded very nontraditional. Now the “ping” sound has disappeared.

Even a pitcher likes the sound of that.

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