June 12, 2013
OMAHA, Neb. — A staggering downturn in offense has taken place during the past two College World Series because of the BBCOR specification bats which have been required since the 2011 season.
The lowest amount of home runs in 38 years were hit the last two championships. In addition, batting averages have plummeted as well as runs scored which also are the lowest in 38 years.
During the 2011 College World Series over 14 games, only 9 home runs were hit as the eight teams batted .239 with 101 runs scored (average 3.6 runs per team per game).
The 2012 CWS offensive numbers were just as anemic.
Only 10 home runs were hit in 15 games while the batting average was .234 and only 107 runs were scored (3.5 runs per team per game).
The numbers the last two years closely mirror the wood bat era in college baseball which took place up to the 1973 season.
Aluminum bats first started being used in 1974. Over time, the alloys were refined to the point that the balance of the game shifted.
With thinner and thinner bat barrel walls being manufactured, which had a dramatic trampoline effect on balls coming off bats, more and more home runs were hit.
The 1998 season featured the highest offensive numbers in NCAA Division I history as 273 teams set records for batting average (.306), scoring (7.12 runs per team per game), home runs (1.06 per game) and earned run average (6.12 per team).
The College World Series that year featured a home run derby of sorts as an all-time record 62 home runs were hit over 14 games.
In all, 62 homers were hit by 42 different players which was an all-time high. The batting average for all eight teams was .318 while 225 runs were scored.
The championship game saw Southern California beat Arizona St., 21-14 in what many thought was an abomination considering both pitching staffs had elite hurlers.
Nine home runs were hit by eight different players in that game, including Arizona State’s 5-foot-10, 170-pound shortstop Michael Collins who had only hit three home runs all season long heading into the CWS.
The 62 homers that year eclipsed the old standard of 48 hit during the 1995 CWS.
Louisiana St. and Southern California each hit 17 home runs to set a new record. The two teams combined for 34 home runs which would rank as the third highest total in College World Series history for one ‘Series. Only the 48 hit in 1995 and 35 belted in 1996 would rank higher.
During the 1996-1998 seasons, no team practiced “gorilla ball” better than LSU as the Tigers hit 131 homers in 1996, 188 in 1997 and 157 in 1998 for a staggering 3-year total of 476 home runs!
After the 1998 season, the NCAA Rules Committee put a stop to high performing bats and ultimately worked with physicists to utilize a new bat specification protocol (BBCOR) that would bring the game more in balance as metal bats performed closer to wood bats.
Now teams are fortunate to hit 40 home runs during an entire season.
More On This Story: Find out how college coaches feel about changing the bat or ball to infuse more offense into the game. ABCA Executive Director Dave Keilitz explains surveys he has taken from coaches, the potential issues involved in a possible change to a hotter ball and why Clemson’s Jack Leggett feels more offense is vitally needed in the college game with a hotter baseball. To obtain this issue of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe, CLICK HERE.