New Bat Standard 2018

Starting in 2018, Little League will be adopting a new bat standard called “USABat” (or sometimes YBBCOR, see below). This standard will make bats less "hot" and give a more "wood-like" performance. This standard is an extension to a standard put in place for colleges and high schools in 2011 called BBCOR. BBCOR has been very successful, and bringing a similar standard to youth baseball is a very good thing. This new USA Baseball bat standard will be adopted by most leagues throughout the country.

BRSLL believes that the right length and weight is important in developing a fundamentally strong swing, and that having a fundamentally strong swing has far more bearing on how far the ball goes than does the model of bat. So we have long encouraged families to buy low priced bats and plan on regular size upgrades.

BRSLL will also be replacing all our team bats, so we will work with all our families to educate and assist in this transition after the 2017 season.

The new bats will be marked with a new "USA Baseball" logo and should go on sale in the fall of 2017.

History of Bat Standards in Little League (and elsewhere):

In the beginning, bats were made of wood. In 1974, the NCAA allowed for the first time metal alloy (aluminum) bats to be used. This was done to reduce the cost of broken wood bats, and the aluminum bats of the day offered performance similar enough to wood.

As you might imagine, technology doesn't stand still and bat manufacturers are always looking for a way to improve their product. The first change was the the ability to thin out the walls of bat making it far lighter without reducing its length. This led to a rule in 1986 limiting the difference of length (in inches) to weight (in ounces) to being no more than 3. This difference is called the "drop" of the bat, and so these bats are called "drop 3" bats, usually written as "-3". -3 was chosen to match the drop value of a typical wood bat.

This restriction did not apply to youth baseball leagues, because in addition to cost savings, these lighter metal bats were a great benefit to kids learning to play the game at a young age. If you look at your child's bat today, you'll see it's "drop" written on it. It's probably a "-12".

By the late 90s, the new advances in material science which were revolutionizing sports like Tennis and Golf were changing baseball bats as well. The changes were less visible to most sports fans because MLB has remained an all-wood league. But by 1998, so many offensive records were being broken in the NCAA that a new kind of bat standard was needed. This first bat standard was called "BESR" and was adopted by the NCAA and the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS) in 2003. This also required bats to be -3 and to be no more than 2 5/8 inches in diameter.

This standard was designed for metal alloy bats, which are hottest when they are new. However, bat manufacturers were making new composite materials were designed to get hotter with age, thus circumventing BESR. Once this was brought to light, there was an immediate ban on composite bats in 2009 until a new standard could be put in place in 2011. This new standard is called BBCOR, and is in force today.

Where BESR had failed, BBCOR has shined. More important than reducing a distorted offense, BBCOR has made the game safer for kids in high school and college.

Youth baseball has followed a similar path, but lagged behind a few years. The first standard for youth baseball bats was put into place in the BESR era and can be thought of as BESR for youth baseball. This standard was created by USSSA and is called "BPF". Little League quickly adopted this standard in 2008, and all the bats you have seen in BRSLL through 2017 have the "BPF 1.15" logo on them.

However, BPF has problems similar to BESR. In 2011, when BBCOR was introduced to the older kids, Little League put a ban on all bats with composite barrels, until manufacturers could prove they will not get "hotter" after they are broken in. Manufacturers who can prove this were put on the "legal composite bat list". It's this list we have handed to managers at the beginning of the season from 2011 to 2017, and why they have been putting "legal in BRSLL" stickers on your composite bats. For the Intermediate (50/70) division, no composite barrels were allowed at all.

Since 2011, work has been underway to taking the BBCOR standard and applying it to lighter bats. The result is the new 2018 standard called "USABat", but often also called Youth BBCOR (YBBCOR). This new standard has been a collaboration between many youth baseball leagues under the umbrella of USA Baseball, and this new standard will apply not only to Little League, but also to similar youth baseball leagues such as PONY, Babe Ruth/Cal Ripkin, etc. Between this new standard and BBCOR, we are close to a universal and scientifically solid standard for years to come.

This new standard will start on January 1, 2018. This upcoming 2017 season will be the last year of the old "BPF" bats, the approved list, and the BRSLL stickers. Bats conforming to the new standard will not hit the market until fall of 2017. At that time, BRSLL will also be replacing all our team bats, so we will work with all our families to educate and assist in this transition.

There is one sour note: So far, USSSA is the only large youth organization who has not signed on to the new standard. There is politics and money at play here - USSSA authorizes the old standard and gets money to have its logo put on each bat. While we hope USSSA will come around, it does mean our families who play outside of Little League may have to deal with this. USSSA already allows "big barrel" (2 5/8" diameter) where Little League only allows 2 1/4" diameter bats in Majors in and below. We believe that the new USABat bats will be legal in USSSA, but not the other way around, so players should be able to continue using Little League bats in USSSA tournaments. We expect most "city" summer tournaments to follow Little League rules, and don't know about other tournament organizations in the Bay Area.

(If you are wondering how the bat manufacturers are trying to defeat BBCOR, it seems they haven't had much luck. The main thing they have done is work to increase the sweet spot on the bat. The sweet spot on a top BBCOR bat is twice the size of a wood bat. However, the standard as worked so well that this year NCAA adjusted the ball to allow for more offense!)

In summary:

2018 and after

Division

Standard

Diameter

T-Ball

USA-Bat

2 ¼” max

Farm - Majors

USA-Bat

2 ⅝” max

Intermediate / Juniors

USA-Bat or BBCOR

2 ⅝” max

High School

BBCOR

2 ⅝” max

2017 and prior

Division

Standard

Diameter

T-Ball

BPF-1.15, marked as “tee-ball bat”

2 ¼” max

Farm - Majors

BPF-1.15, composite barrels must be on “the list”

2 ¼” max

Intermediate / Juniors

BPF-1.15 (no composite barrels) or BBCOR

2 ⅝” max

High School

BBCOR

2 ⅝” max