UPDATED to reflect changes for the 2012 season.
Wondering what the difference is between BBCOR, BESR and ABI? Want to know what’s legal and what isn’t?
You came to the right place.
Here is our guide to the current changes in bat performance standards. First, we have some definitions of terms. Second, there is a league-by-league timeline. Third, we’ve answered some of the common questions about the changes.
BESR (Ball Exit Speed Ratio) — This was the longstanding test used to ensure that non-wood bats play similar to wood bats. It tests a bat’s “exit speed,” i.e. how fast the ball bounces off a composite or aluminum bat barrel. It has been phased out, because it failed to account for how bats would perform after they have been broken in (Composite bats typically improve with use).
BBCOR (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) — This is the new, more-accurate test that is replacing BESR. Like BESR, it is used to ensure that aluminum and composite bats play similar to wood bats, but it also accounts for how bats perform after they’ve been broken in. That’s because it includes the ABI, described below.
ABI (Accelerated Break-In Test) — This is a test performed on bats to simulate heavy use. Composite bats perform better the more you use them, so as part of the BBCOR, the ABI ensures that even with heavy usage, composite bats perform similar to wood bats.
College baseball timeline
Now in effect — All bats used in the NCAA and any organizations that follow NCAA rules (such as the NAIA), must be BBCOR certified. The BESR certification is no longer used.
Composite-barreled bats, which were previously banned in the NCAA, are allowed if they can pass the BBCOR test.
High school baseball timeline
Now in effect — All bats used in NFHS high school baseball and leagues that follow NFHS rules must be BBCOR certified. The BESR certification will no longer be used.
Composite-barreled bats, which were previously banned, will be allowed if they can pass the BBCOR test.
Frequently Asked Questions
Q: How do I know if my bat is BBCOR certified?
A:If your bat has been BBCOR certified, it will carry a stamp somewhere on the barrel that looks like this:
Q: I have an older BESR bat. Is there a chance it will be re-tested for a BBCOR certification?
A: We can’t say for sure, but it looks unlikely that older bats will be re-tested.
Q: I’ve heard these bats don’t perform as well as BESR bats. Is that true?
A: The NCAA used BBCOR bats during the Spring 2011 baseball season, and there were several notable statistical differences. Not surprisingly, the bats performed more like wooden bats.
From the NCAA:
Division I batting average, scoring and home runs per game in 2011 resemble the wood-bat 1970s more than they do recent years. Division I teams in 2011 averaged 5.58 runs per game, well off the record 7.12 in 1998 and below 6 for the first time since 1977 (5.83), which was just the fourth season of the aluminum bat in college baseball.
Home runs left parks at an average of .52 per team per game in 2011 compared with .94 last year and 1.06 in 1998 (also the peak year for that category). That resembles wood-bat days, too (.42 in the last year of wood in 1973, and .49, .50 and .55 in the first three years of metal).
Batting average in 2011 was .282, the lowest since 1976. Earned-run average, on the other hand, was its best (4.70) since 1980 (4.59).
According to a recent episode of ESPN’s Sport Science, the sweet spot on an average BBCOR bat is two inches smaller than a comparable BESR bat. They also report a 5 percent drop in exit speed.
Here’s the clip from the show:
Q: If these bats are made to perform like wooden bats, why don’t I just use a wooden bat?
A: You can. Both the NCAA and NFHS allow players to use wooden baseball bats. However, wooden bats break easily.
A wooden bat can crack or split if the batter makes contact with the pitch on the taper or handle. Major League Baseball players go through an average of 50 bats per season. So, with wooden bats costing anywhere between $40 and $200, those costs can add up fast.
Compared to wooden bats, the major benefit of BBCOR bats is durability.
Q: Where can I find a list of acceptable BBCOR baseball bats?
A: We have compiled a list of legal BBCOR bats.
Q: When will there be -5 BBCOR bats?
A: Not soon, if ever. BBCOR has been adopted primarily by high school and college baseball leagues. Because these leagues also require all bats to be -3, all BBCOR bats are -3. Bats with a -5 drop are certified with different standards (for ex: BPF 1.15), which are still used by leagues that allow -5 bats. So, because those leagues that allow -5 bats aren’t asking specifically for BBCOR -5 bats, they aren’t being made.
Q: I have another question that you haven’t addressed.
A: Feel free to post your question below. We’ll answer it as soon as possible and add it to the FAQ.