NCAA changes test to measure bat performance

INDIANAPOLIS — The NCAA will test a baseball’s liveliness off the bat rather than its speed to determine whether the bat meets performance standards.

With almost all Division I programs using metal bats, the organization wants to make sure the power produced by the bat-ball contact is no greater than that produced by wood, the NCAA’s Ty Halpin said Wednesday.

“The test we had previously gave us a pretty good reading on wood versus non-wood, and we still feel like that’s the case, but we have found a few pieces where there seems to be some difference here for whatever reason,” said Halpin, the NCAA associate director of playing rules administration.

Previously, non-wood bats had to meet a “ball exit ratio speed” performance standard based on the length and weight of the bat to produce a certain ball speed after contact. Now, the test will be a “ball-bat coefficient of restitution,” which eliminates discrepancies with different length bats and is a more direct measure of bat performance.

“Basically, it’s how springy the ball is, how bouncy,” he said. “What the BBCOR is measuring is how lively that collision is. It’s not an exit speed; it’s measuring what the bat and the ball do together.”

Halpin said the change was not prompted by any concern for safety.

“From our perspective, it’s a continued effort to refine the standard as we go along and continue to tie ourselves to wood (standards).

“We’ve seen some discrepancies that could allow manufacturers to maybe make a little more of a powerful bat. We just don’t want that to happen,” he said. “We don’t believe that’s happened, and the manufacturers have been with us every step of the way as we’ve refined the standards, so they’re well aware of what’s happening here and why we’re doing it.”

Bats used by NCAA schools must meet the BBCOR standards by Jan. 1, 2011.

“So it’s not a surprise to anybody,” Halpin said. “The manufacturers actually already have some prototypes that they’d like to start testing now for the new standards, so we don’t think there’s going to be any sort of transition for our schools or for the manufacturers.”

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