Regular-Season Bat Testing Proposed For 2020 0

INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. — The NCAA Baseball Rules Committee has recommended that bat testing take place starting with the 2020 season to eliminate hot, illegal bats. 

The reason for the delay is to give universities time to purchase equipment to conduct testing which currently costs around $1,400.

Bats would be tested before the first game of a series or before each mid-week game to ensure they are legal and haven’t been doctored.

Additionally, the committee recommended a proposal that would require the barrel of the bat to  be a color that contrasts with the ball from 18 inches above the end of the handle to the end cap. If approved, the requirement would take effect in the 2020 season.

Proposals recommended by the Baseball Rules Committee must be approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel which will discuss them via conference call Aug. 16. 

Thanks to successful experimental bat testing by the Southeastern Conference the past three seasons and the Missouri Valley Conference in 2017, a substantial body of evidence is now in place which virtually eliminates bat tampering.

Illegal Bats In 2016
During a 2017 NCAA Rules presentation for NCAA Division I, II and III coaches at last January’s American Baseball Coaches Association Convention in Anaheim, Calif., Elvis Dominguez, chairman of the NCAA Baseball Rules Committee, said that an unusually high number of people reported illegal bats being used during the 2016 season which alarmed the Rules Committee.

“I was on the NCAA Rules Committee back in 2008 when we began formulating plans to use the current BBCOR specification bats on the market,” said Dominguez.

“Once the regulations went into effect for these bats, we thought the problem of high performance bats was over. But during the 2016 season, the Rules Committee got more calls than we ever expected on players utilizing illegal bats that had been rolled or had the barrels shaved for more trampoline effect.

“In some cases, you were seeing 6-7 batters from the same team using the exact same bat which is a telltale sign that an illegal bat was being used.

“When we got to the College World Series where bat testing is utilized, a number of bats (20) did not pass and were taken out of play before the CWS started.

“Because of this, we need to test bats well before the College World Series so the right teams make it to Omaha without an illegal advantage.” 

Illegal Bat Rolling
“The biggest concern we have is that bats are being rolled,” said George Drouches, NCAA National Coordinator of Umpires.

Bat rolling is a process that can add significant pop and distance to a baseball bat.

By rolling a bat illegally, unethical people enjoy the bat’s maximum potential from the very first swing without putting all the wear and tear on it.

The bat is placed between two rollers and then pressure is applied so that as the bat passes through the rollers as the bat’s fibers are stretched out.

This causes the fibers to become more flexible which greatly improves the bat’s trampoline effect when balls hit the barrel resulting in increased batted ball speed and distance. It will make the sweet spot bigger and much more consistent as well.

Other Proposed Rules
The NCAA Baseball Rules Committee
supported a request from the Southeastern Conference to allow experimental rules for a coach’s challenge system and wireless communication from the dugout to the catcher during in-conference games only.

If approved by the NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, the experimental rules would be put in place for 2018 SEC regular-season and conference tournament games. The experimental rules would not be allowed in non-conference games involving SEC teams.

The challenge system recommendation would allow a coach one challenge to have a call overturned by video review. If the challenge is successful, that coach would be able to challenge another play later in the game.

If the challenge is unsuccessful, the coach would lose the ability to issue a challenge for the rest of the game. However, the umpiring crew can still initiate a video review should they feel it is necessary to ensure the original call was correct.

The proposal also expands the number of plays that can be reviewed to include:

  • Force/tag play calls: Plays involving all runners acquiring the base before the defensive player’s attempt to put the runner out at any 
  • The following base running calls: Calls involving whether a base runner passes a preceding runner before that runner is out; determinations of whether a base runner scored ahead of a third out; and, upon an appropriate appeal by the defensive team, whether a base runner touched a base.
  • Hit-by-pitch calls: Those plays for which there is a possibility that a pitched ball touches a batter, or his clothing.
  • Tag-up plays: An umpire’s decision whether a runner failed to retouch the base after a fair or foul ball is legally caught by a fielder. (This play is currently permissible for review for plays from third base. This request expands the review to all bases.)
  • Placement of runners: An umpire’s placement of all runners following any boundary call.
  • Interference by runners when breaking up a double play.

Wireless Communication
In the proposal, the catcher would wear an ear piece to hear the type of pitch the coaching staff wants thrown. Currently, many teams communicate with the catchers through numerical codes.

The catcher looks at a wristband to see which pitch the coaching staff wants thrown, then relays the sign to the pitcher.

To read more of this story, purchase the Sept. 1, 2017 edition of Collegiate Baseball or subscribe by CLICKING HERE.