Starting on January 1, 2018, Little League Baseball® requires that all bats adhere to the new USA Baseball Standard. No bats previously approved for use in Little League Play will be permitted to be used in any Little League game or practice, or other Little League function, event, or activity.
This is a huge change – both from a participation and performance standpoint. We at SMNLL understand that this change requires all of us to buy new equipment, so we are trying to help by giving you as much information as we know.
WHY THE CHANGE?
Testing and evaluating youth baseball bats has evolved into a science. So much so that the standard has also evolved to where USA Baseball, the national governing body for the sport of amateur baseball in the United States, is adopting a new method for measuring bat performance in the testing of youth bats that will go into effect on January 1, 2018.
Additionally, USA Baseball's national member organizations believe that a wood-like performance standard will best provide for the long-term integrity of the game.
Little League has stated that the change was not driven by an increase in safety. “Youth baseball continues to be one of the safest of all sports for youth participants.” However, since the standards ensure that bats perform like wood bats, balls will not achieve the same exit velocity as they previously did.
WHAT ARE THE CHANGES AND HOW WILL PERFORMANCE BE EFFECTED?
The new USA Bat Standard ensures that all bats perform more like wood bats. Therefore, it is our belief that we will not see as many home runs as we did in previous years. But, it may be more likely to make more contact, as well. Why?
Well, the changes to the bat standard do two things. First, as stated, the maximum force of the ball coming off the bat will be standardized. Simultaneously, the barrel size is allowed to be larger. Yes, the previous barrel size of 2 1/4” is still available, but so is a larger barrel – 2 5/8”. That larger barrel increases surface area and, potentially, the sweet spot.
SO, DO I REALLY HAVE TO BUY A NEW BAT?
While we wish the answer wasn’t so cut and dry, the answer is yes. As a league that follows the rules and requirements that our charter mandates, we have no choice but to follow and enforce the new bat standard.
HOW DO I KNOW IF THE BAT IS LEGAL?
New bats will have the USA Baseball “stamp” on the bat. If this logo is not visible, the bat is not legal. The picture below shows you what to look for.
The only exception to this is solid, one-piece wood bats that adhere to Little League’s regulations will be allowed for play with or without the USA Baseball mark. Multi-piece wood bats must have the USA Baseball mark to be approved for play. This includes two-piece wood bats, composite wood bats, laminated wood bats, bonded wood bats, bamboo bats, and any wood bat that could be defined as an ‘experimental’ design.
WHAT IF I USE AN ILLEGAL/OLD BAT?
Regulation 1.10 states that the bat must be a baseball bat which meets Little League® specifications and standards as noted in this rule. (See complete explanation in the current year’s Little League Baseball® Official Regulations, Playing Rules, and Policies). If rule 1.10 is violated, the batter is called out and one coach is removed from the game. On second offense, the batter is out and the manager is ejected from the game.
At SMNLL, we want to be proactive about this so we never have anyone violate the rule. If there is a question about a bat’s legality, please ask a league official.
Here are links to help you navigate this new rule.
USA Baseball Bats: https://usabat.com/