By now you may have heard about the upcoming rule change going in to affect on January 1st, 2018. Little League, Pony, Babe Ruth, Cal Ripken, and almost every other youth baseball organization is adopting a new youth baseball bat standard: USABat Standard bats.
The Integrity of the Game
Little League and Pony, the two largest youth baseball organizations by far, insist the change is needed for the “integrity of the game”. What this means is since the development of high-end composite baseball bats in the early 2000s, bat manufacturers have been able to design and build bats with such large sweet spots and light swing weights, today’s youth baseball players have seen a dramatic increase in offense. The USABat Standard will decrease the allowable size of the barrel and sweet spot.
2. Big Barrel Bats For Little League
One great new thing about the new youth bat standard is that Little League will now allow baseball bats with a 2 5/8 inch diameter barrel (as well as 2 1/4″ still). Up until now, Little League has required the use of a 2 1/4 inch diameter barrel on all of their bats for youth baseball players. The USABat Standard will change this rule. One thing to keep in mind, however, is the sweet spot will be much smaller on the new bats than the sweet spot on the current big barrel bats available on the market.
Under the new bat standard, Little League Baseball and Pony Baseball will use the same bats. The only reason you would ever need to get two different baths would be if you were playing travel baseball under USSSA rules.
While the organizations have come out and said that the change to the USABat Standards is not due to safety reasons, the simple fact is these bats will not perform as well as the current bats do. The decrease in barrel size as well as the potentially slower speeds off the bat should increase reaction time for the defense.