Where did the home runs go?


Photo Credit: Mary Lange

The Glen Rock Baseball team has had to get used to using BBCOR bats over the past four seasons.

by Max Felsenstein, Sports Editor

Hitting a round object with a round object… It is often said that hitting a baseball is the toughest thing to do in sports. Over the four past amateur baseball seasons, hitting has become even tougher and can be a real weakness.

Since 2011, high school and collegiate baseball has seen a steady decrease in offense. This is not because the hitters are necessarily worse, but rather because the bats are no longer made to drive the ball. This is because of the new standard in amateur baseball known as “Batted-Ball Coefficient of Restitution Bats (BBCOR).

What is a BBCOR bat?

Four years ago, The National Federation of State High School Associations mandated the use of BBCOR bats. These bats are made to feel and react more like wood bats, which reduces the “trampoline effect” of the bat.

This means that only aluminum bats with the BBCOR stamp are approved for use, not the typical composite bat, which was first introduced in 2000.

Why BBCOR bats?

The NFHS started to see several reoccurring injuries in high school baseball and began to research the batted ball speed off of the bat. The NFHS determined that pitchers were getting severely injured by incoming batted baseballs, because they didn’t have enough time to react.

According to ESPN Sports Science, a pitched ball traveling 90 mph comes off the bat at nearly an astonishing 108 mph, thus giving the pitcher just 0.375 seconds to react.

BBCOR bats have definitely humbled many high school baseball players as it has made hitters go through a transition period.

— William Crispino, varsity baseball coach

Also, Sports Science determined that the ball carries over thirty feet less than the ball used to, making a 350-foot home run into a 320-foot long fly out.

The Glen Rock head varsity baseball coach, William Crispino, said, “It has made the game safer in my mind as the old metal bats we used put the pitchers in serious danger of being hit with a comeback line drive.”

What kind of effect has the BBCOR bat had on the Glen Rock High School varsity baseball team?

Since 2013, the Panthers have hit just eleven home runs with only two round trippers at home.

In 2013, the Panthers hit eight home runs in the third season of the bats’ use.

Last season, the Panthers hit three: two of the home runs coming off the bat of graduate, Jeff Kopyta, and one off the bat of current junior, Matt Lange.

“BBCOR bats have definitely humbled many high school baseball players as it has made hitters go through a transition period,” Crispino said.

This means that the Panthers are going to have to find a different way to create runs this season since they’re returning just one home run hitter to the lineup. The answer is small ball.

Photo Credit: Mary Lange
Jeff Kopyta, during his home run on Senior Day against Lodi last season.

“Our team speed will allow us to create offense by playing small ball and being aggressive on the base paths,” Crispino said.

The Glen Rock High School varsity baseball team could try to mirror the offense of last season’s NCAA Division I National Champion, Vanderbilt University.

Vanderbilt relied on pitching, bunting and situational hitting to lead them to the National Title, hitting just 22 home runs in 72 games, thus averaging one home run almost every three games.

“Our pitching, which has been a strength in the past few years and has the potential to be very strong again, with other teams struggling with BBCOR bats, our pitching becomes even stronger,” Crispino said.

Although not Vanderbilt, the Panthers can make a run for the Group 2 state title this season, following Vanderbilt’s lead and playing into the advantages of the current roster. BBCOR bats or not, the Panthers can play deep into May and June.