Navigating Little League’s new bat standards
As many of you know, Little League is implementing a new bat standard for all players in all divisions beginning next Spring. The new standard, known as the USABat standard, means that “baseball bats that were approved for use for the 2017 season will no longer be acceptable for use in any Little League game or activity starting on January 1, 2018.”
In short, if your player uses his or her own bat, you will need to purchase a new bat before the start of the Spring season.
To help you navigate this transition, we’ve put together the following FAQ. More information is available on the Little League website.
Why is Little League switching to a new standard?
The USABats are designed to have a “wood-like performance standard.” Little League believes this standard “will best provide for the long-term integrity of the game.”
Do I have to buy a new bat?
No. As with previous years, Reston Little League will provide bats and helmets for players. However, if your player prefers to use his or her own bat, you will need to have a USABat for the start of the 2018 season.
Are USABats for sale right now, and how can I tell if I’m getting the right thing?
Yes, USABats are for sale at all major retailers and from the brands you’ve come to expect (Easton, Rawlings, DeMarini, Louisville Slugger, etc.). As with other bats, bat makers are providing a wide sizes and price ranges for USABats.
All bats that conform to the USABat standard have a version of this logo between the handle and the barrel of the bat:
In addition, here is a list of all approved USABats. This list will be updated as new bats become available.
What can we expect from the new USABats?
Potentially more contact, but probably fewer dingers. Most of the bats we’re seeing have an increased barrel diameter of 2 5/8 inches. (What is commonly referred to as “big barrel” bats.) This increased diameter means that many bats are slightly heavier than they were last year, but the increased barrel size could mean more contact for our hitters. However, we expect to see less “pop” from these bats due to the “wood-like performance standard.”
If these bats have a “wood-like performance,” why is there such a wide variety of prices?
While all of these bats should have roughly the same performance, some bats will have a larger sweet spot than others, some will use technology to dampen the vibration of the bat hitting the ball, and some incorporate composite materials to shave off ounces and increase the hitting area. (Some also have really cool paint jobs.) The use of this type of technology will generally increase the price of the bat.
Ultimately players should choose a bat that is the proper length and weight for them. Having a properly sized bat is far more important than what the bat is made of, or what color it is.