As the 2011 college baseball season begins, there’s a lot of talk about how the new bats will affect the game. Only time will tell, but the initial responses seem to point towards a huge change in the landscape of college baseball.
Here are some of the top coaches in the country weighing in with their thoughts about the new bats and the effect it will have on college baseball.
“It’s gonna change the game. This past fall we had less than half the HRs we normally have. It’s very different. Teams are going to have to manufacture more runs. Speed and OBP become a much bigger issue.” Ray Tanner, University of South Carolina (2010 National Champions)
“I’m taking a wait and see approach on the new bats. I haven’t seen enough of them to form a concrete opinion yet. I know it will be different, but everyone will be in the same situation. College baseball was an exciting and competitive game before this rule went into place and hopefully these new bats won’t change that. “ Tracy Smith, Indiana University
“Teams are going to have to figure out new ways to win. Well hit balls will still be hits, but more balls will get run down. It fits our style of play at ASU.” Tim Esmay, Arizona State University
“I love it. We love to steal bases here at Kentucky. It is a part of our game. I think the new bat provides a real concrete opportunity for the hitter to improve. With the standards changing and creating a different exit velocity, hitting line drives and ground balls up the middle becomes a premium. That is the fastest way to develop your swing and I think the new standards have forced all hitters to embrace that in daily batting practices.” Brian Green, University of Kentucky
“I think the bats are going to have a huge impact. There were a lot of balls hit during the fall that looked crushed but ended up staying in the park. Defense and speed are going to be very important.” Dan Simonds, Miami University (OH)
“I think everyone is overreacting to the new bats a little bit. As with any new rule change, for a few years everyone gets up in arms about it, but eventually when everyone adjusts to it, it becomes fine. I love aluminum bats for the excitement factor but people don’t realize the danger of a pitcher getting hit with a line drive unless you’ve been hit with a line drive before from about 55 feet away. It is very dangerous and someone could get killed, as we all know has happened before. I would just as soon swing newspapers if it meant nobody getting killed. It is just a game.” Randy Mazey, Texas Christian University.
“It’s going to change college baseball, no doubt about it. We’ve got some days of batting practice that no home runs are hit. I haven’t spoken to anybody that says they like them, but it is what it is.” Mike Bianco, Ole Miss
“I’m excited to see how it effects how teams will play the game. It’s still baseball. You must pitch, play defense and execute offensively.” Kevin McMullan, University of Virginia
“It’s like a wood bat. It’s going to slow down the game a little bit. I don’t have a big problem with them. I’ve felt all along that if you can swing a wood bat you can play at a high level, and I just don’t think that the bat we were playing with before was a bat that gave the game a lot of integrity.” Tim Corbin, Vanderbilt University
The NCAA D1 season started February 18th with the new bats. As the season progresses we will begin to see the true affect the new bats will have on college baseball. My guess is that Pete Incaviglia’s record of 48 home runs in a college season (1985) is going to be safe for many more years to come.