Tuesday, April 19, 2011

It's about the ball, the bat, the mitt

"I never blame myself when I'm not hitting. I just blame the bat, and if it keeps, up I change bats. After all, if I know it isn't not my fault that I'm not hitting, how can I get mad at myself?" (Yogi Berra)

Baseball's power surge drops after introduction of new bats (NCAA.org)
Data from the NCAA statistics staff reveal that in Division I games through April 3 (essentially the midpoint of the season), scoring is down by more than a run per game per team compared with the same time last season (from 6.98 per team in 2010 to 5.63 in 2011), and home runs have dropped from .85 a game per team in 2010 to .47 this year.

Batting average has also declined sharply, from .301 per team at midseason last year to .279 so far in 2011. Conversely, earned-run average has improved, from 5.83 in 2010 to 4.62 this year. In addition, more shutouts have been thrown this year (444) compared with this time last season (277).

2011 Division I Baseball Midseason Trends compared to 2010 (ncaa.org)
Detailed statistical comparison
■ ESPN Sports Science presents BBCOR Bats Explained (youtube.com)

Chucking the wood? (ncaa.org)
With the new metal bats in college baseball performing more like wood, some people are asking why not just return the game to its roots, both figuratively and literally?

The wood-bat discussion in college ball is not new, but it strikes out more often than not. It may be closest to a reality in Division II, where three conferences (the Northeast-10, the East Coast Conference and the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference) use wood during the regular season and in their postseason regional.

Also, at its October 2010 meeting in Phoenix, the Division II Conference Commissioners Association resolved to support the idea of wood bats, with the intention of Division II collectively moving toward being a wood bat-only division by 2012-13.

While that sounds promising, the old factors of cost, quality and competitive equity always retire the side in Division I.

“It becomes a rather circular type of conversation,” said Big 12 Deputy Commissioner Tim Weiser, who chairs the Division I Baseball Committee. “And now technology has gotten us to a point where we’re able to mirror the performance of wood without the cost/quality issues we know we always face when we talk about the discussion of using actual wood bats.”

Jeff Schaly, the director of compliance at Lynn and chair of the Division II Baseball Committee, said people on both sides of the same argument are using this year’s results in the wood-metal debate.

“Those who support metal say let’s play with these new aluminum bats for a year or two and see if they really do perform like wood,” Schaly said. “If they do, then we don’t even need to talk about wood anymore. But those who favor wood are using these same data to support their case, too. If the metal plays just like wood, then why not go to wood?

“Each side of the argument is using these results to bolster their case, and neither side is wrong.”
What is the best BBCOR bat for 2011? (compositebats.com)
We hit every BBCOR bat on the market for three weeks straight. Combined, we put in over 10,000 swings on these bats. It all came down to sting, vibration and balance of the bat. All BBCOR bats have a smaller barrel than their BESR counter parts. All BBCOR bats feel heavier because more weight is distributed to the end of the barrel.

Here is the ugly truth about BBCOR bats… The “pop” is almost indistinguishable between bats. However, that is where the similarities end and the testing begins.

There were clear “winners” in the shootout. Not because one bat hit the ball further every time, but because one bat allows you to control the bat better and put the sweet spot on the ball more consistently. While they all hit the ball approximately the same distance, several bats had advantages in comfort and swingability that will ultimately help you be a better hitter.

Analysis of Baseball (May Swenson)
It’s about
the ball,
the bat,
and the mitt.
Ball hits
bat, or it
hits mitt.
Bat doesn’t
hit ball, bat
meets it.
Ball bounces
off bat, flies
air, or thuds
ground (dud)
or it
fits mitt.

Bat waits
for ball
to mate.
Ball hates
to take bat’s
bait. Ball
flirts, bat’s
late, don’t
keep the date.
Ball goes in
(thwack) to mitt,
and goes out
(thwack) back
to mitt.

Ball fits
mitt, but
not all
the time.
ball gets hit
(pow) when bat
meets it,
and sails
to a place
where mitt
has to quit
in disgrace.
That’s about
the bases
about 40,000
fans exploded.

It’s about
the ball,
the bat,
the mitt,
the bases
and the fans.
It’s done
on a diamond,
and for fun.
It’s about
home, and it’s
about run.

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