We would like to bring to everyone's attention that the US amateur baseball bat standards are changing as of January 2018 to a new standard called USABat. This will not affect the upcoming spring 2017 season, but it’s important to share this with you to prevent ‘overspending’ on new baseball bats this year.
USA Baseball, the national governing body for the sport of baseball in the US, announced the decision to adopt a new method for measuring bat performance in the testing of youth bats. It is being supported by all amateur baseball entities including the American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball, Dixie Youth Baseball, Little League Baseball and PONY Baseball.
In short, they believe recent advancements in science, engineering, technology, and the materials available to fabricate non-wood bats now allow the manufacturers to construct youth bats that can perform at a wood-like level through the entire range of lengths and weights of youth bats.
What does this mean: You may continue to use your current bat for the remainder of 2017. Any new bat purchased will only be able to be used for the remainder of 2017. In 2018, everyone will need to purchase a new bat which conforms to the new bat standards. These bats are expected to be available for purchase in late 2017.
They have published a Q&A, which we summarized for you below:
Frequently Asked Questions about the USABat standard:
Why the change to a wood-like standard? USA Baseball's national member organizations believe that a wood-like performance standard will best provide for the long-term integrity of the game. The new standard will not have a drop-weight limit, so young players can use bats made with light-weight materials.
Why not just use wood bats? Wood is a scarce resource. The new bats will be designed to perform much like wood, where its performance will be limited to the highest performing wood.
Why is USA Baseball involved? The national member organizations asked USA Baseball as the national governing body to take the lead in this process to establish a new standard. Many other national governing bodies set and enforce standards for the equipment in their respective sports. To that end, USA Baseball established a Bat Study Committee of leading scientists and conducted theoretical modeling, field testing and lab testing. The committee shared its findings with the national member organizations, who then endorsed the new USABat standard.
Why wait until 2018? The implementation date of 2018 will allow bat manufacturers sufficient time to conduct the appropriate research, design, testing, manufacturing and shipping needed to get new bats into retail outlets. This date also allows the participating national member organizations adequate time to educate their memberships of the USABat standard.
Is my current bat good for league play? Yes. Current league-approved bats can be used through December 31, 2017.
Is safety the reason for the change? No. Youth baseball continues to be one of the safest of all sports for youth participants.
How will I know which bat to buy? All new bats that bear the USABat licensing mark will be permissible for play in the leagues and tournaments of the participating youth baseball organizations