Mon July 2, 2012
Reported by Jack Witthaus
Although it was a warmer and dryer spring, the ball didn’t fly so far in Missouri High School ball diamonds.
As predicted, hitting production was limited this year compared to last year due to MSHSAA mandated BBCOR bats.
This year was the first for MSHSAA to institute the BBCOR bat regulation. BBCOR, which stands for “ball bat coefficient of restitution,” is a metal bat designed to mimic a wood bat.
These new bats were instituted largely to promote safety and bring the game closer to its wood bat roots.
Unfortunately, the new bats did not pop as much as the old. Non-BBCOR bats provide hitters with a larger sweet spot and a “trampoline effect,” essentially launching the ball at a much higher velocity than a BBCOR bat.
For further information on the BBCOR bats and the difference from non-BBCOR bats, click on the link below for a clip from Sport Science
Using STLhighschoolsports.com, Prep Baseball Report compared teams in the St. Louis area with won-lost records this year within three wins of the previous year (see below). Using a sample size of eight teams, PBR found that 75% of teams scored less runs this year than last year.
The CBC Cadets sported the most startling run differential, losing 66 runs this year compared to last year.
Many things can factor into run production from year to year with a high school team including strength of schedule, loss of players, and new coaching staffs.
PBR also took a look at the area leaders in batting average, homeruns, and runs again using STLhighschoolsports.com. Each category showed a significant drop in production (see below).
An area leading power hitter this year, for example, hit nearly three home runs less on average than last year.
Going into this season, most coaches were supportive of the BBCOR bat regulation:
“I really liked it,” Willard’s head coach Scott McGee said. “I really felt like it would put defense and strength of pitching back into the high school game a little more than it had been. (Before BBCOR), what had happened was guys were afraid to get on the mound because every time you’d get up there, people were hitting line drives all over the place.”
The new bats changed team strategies. McGee asked his players to use only wood bats in the off-season. His team also focused more on speed and bunting drills.
“Typically, you’re not going to have nine strong hitters in a high school lineup,” Rock Bridge’s head coach Justin Towe said. “So what that meant for us before we started playing games was we were really going to have to focus on the finer points of the game like hit-and-runs, steals, squeezes, and sacs.
“Watching the ball come off the bat, it seemed to me like the ball went from home plate to the edge of the infield about the same. But once it got past the infield, you could really tell the ball started to die down.”
With the offensive lull, Towe believed that the weaker hitters on the team really pressed harder to hit this season. However, Towe speculated his team lost 60 to 80 points on their batting average this season compared with previous seasons.
“I think a lot of it is a confidence thing,” Towe said. “The kids know they aren’t going to hit a ball as far, and they’ve got to really barrel it up. It puts a lot more pressure on them. You would find kids trying to change their swing as opposed to just trying to continue to be smooth and put a good swing on it and see what happens.”
On the flip side, the pitching dynamic changed for many high school teams.
“I think where you really see (the difference) is not with the number one or two pitchers, but now you can kind of throw pitchers three, four, five in your rotation and they can still keep you in games,” McGee said. “In the past, if you were throwing one of those guys, the (opposing team) would be hitting line drives everywhere.”
Safety for the players, especially pitchers, really didn’t change this year according to the coaches.
“This past spring we had two or three pitchers get blown up on the mound,” Towe said. “I don’t know if we’ve had that many in the past few years.”
“There are still line drives that are smacked really hard at the pitcher, and it has a chance to hurt you,” McGee said.
Conference Stats 2011 vs 2012
2011 CBC (19-7)—182 runs (26 games)
2012 CBC (18-9)—116 runs (27 games)
2011 DeSmet (15-10)—195 runs (25 games)
2012 DeSmet (15-10)—137 runs (25 games)
Mo Independents Conference
2011 Borgia (22-5)— 217 runs (27 games)
2012 Borgia (19-8)—202 runs (27 games)
Suburban East Conference
2011 Affton (8-15)—145 runs (23 games)
2012 Affton (8-13)—122 runs (21 games, projected 23 games: 134 runs)
South Central AA Conference
2011 Brentwood (16-7)—162 runs (23 games, projected 24 games: 169 runs)
2012 Brentwood (15-9)—178 runs (24 games)
Metro League Conference
2011 John Burroughs (16-7)—185 runs (23 games, projected 24 games: 193 runs)
2012 John Burroughs (14-10)—148 runs (24 games)
Jefferson County Conference
2011 Crystal City (19-6)—197 runs (25 games)
2012 Crystal City (22-3)—199 runs (25 games)
Gateway North Conference
2011 Ft. Zumwalt North (17-9)—183 runs (26 games, projected 27 games: 190)
2012 Ft. Zumwalt North (15-12)—151 (27 games)
Top 10 St. Louis Area (including Illinois) Batting Leaders Average
Top 10 St. Louis Area (including Illinois) Homerun Leaders Average
Top 10 St. Louis Area (including Illinois) Runs Leaders Average
(Pitching stats not comparable)