A bit more about the new rule regarding maple bats

Back in December, I briefly discussed the new rule in the CBA governing the usage of low-density (LD) maple. A reminder on the rule in question:

The ban would only apply to new major leaguers. Other players would be grandfathered and could continue using low-density bats if desired.

As you might remember, too, I have been pretty darned vocal about this shattered bat thing for, well, ever. Because of this obsession of mine, I developed a new BFF in the baseball universe, Wendy Thurm from FanGraphs and Baseball Nation. She asked me a few questions via email and I send a whole mess of a response her way. She turned it into something much better, as you can read here. Like the pro she is, she took only a quote from me:

I’ve been as outspoken as anyone about this issue. The new restriction on bat density for new players is a step in the right direction, but it is not enough.

A number of potential solutions have been developed. Some include radical multi-piece bats that will likely never see a major league game under current MLB Rule 1.10 as they fundamentally change the time-honored equipment of the game. Other solutions include ultra-thin polymer films that wrap the bat to keep the barrel and handle in place should the bat suffer what the manufacturers call a “multi-part failure”, something that has passed significant MLB-approved testing at their Lowell, MA facility. [videos here]

Regardless of the possible remedies available now or in the future, as long as the players want the thin handle, heavy barrel bats that create a whip-like action, bats will continue to shatter. According to MLB regulations, the difference between the bat length and weight can be no greater than 3.5. In other words, a 35” bat cannot be lighter than 31.5 oz. Bats with bigger barrels and narrower handles that push the limits of physics and this rule (or exceed them due to player modification such as sanding the handles for weight/narrowness) all greatly contribute to this problem.

If you want to see/read/learn a bit more about bats, low-density vs. high-density, maple vs. ash, read on friends. After the jump, be warned, my mess of a response to her questions in its completeness. So yeah, I ramble a bit. Sue me.

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A bit about the new CBA rule about maple bats

As you probably heard with regard to one of the many items in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, there will be a ban on low-density maple bats. Well, sorta:

The ban would only apply to new major leaguers. Other players would be grandfathered and could continue using low-density bats if desired.

In other words, every player who has ever appeared in an MLB game can still use the low-density bats as long as they are active. As you also might remember, I’m pretty vocal about this whole bat thing.

Rather than rant, I contacted Phil Rauso of BatGlove for his closer-to-the-issue thoughts on the new rules:

(click “view full post” to read more)
Continue reading A bit about the new CBA rule about maple bats

Additional chatter on the maple bats and a possible solution

Last night, I spent quite a bit of time thinking about and discussing the shattering maple bat situation and MLB’s proactive decision to eliminate certain kinds of bats, starting in the minor leagues.

One of the things that really caught my eye (again) was the BatGlove, a virtually invisible “sheath” that adheres to the handle of the bat and eliminates the parts of the bat from separating. It doesn’t stop the bat from breaking or cracking; it only stops it from flying off in potentially dangerous directions. As I mentioned last night, I was hoping to reach the makers of the BatGlove for additional color on their product. Luckily, Steve Rauso was good enough to respond:

Jason,

The product was developed to adhere to MLB rule 1.10. From the bottom of the handle, 18″ up a player is allowed to use any material or substance as long as it is to improve the players grip on the bat. The players already use adhesive products to promote player grip on the bat. Because of the location as well as the ultra thin transparent film that is being used, the players cannot even tell the product is on the bat. It is in the area where a player applies pine tar to a bat, so it makes it even less obvious to the player once the tar is applied.

Every player who has ever held a bat with our invention has endorsed it. Most of the time the product has to be pointed out to them because they do not even see it or feel it when they hold the bat. Let’s face it, nobody wants to be “that player” who has to deal with a death or injury in the stands or out on the field. If it does not change the performance of the bat and meets all of the criteria for MLB. Why not?

The MLB Research Center @ Lowell/UMass reports that the invention definitely promotes safer conditions for players, fans and umpires.

The pictures above are from Steve and show the BatGlove, as it looks applied to a bat. Rather innocuous, no?

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Finally! Maple bats face ban

Finally some proactive news out of MLB with regards to the exploding maple bats, even though it’s taking root in the minors:

New regulations will prohibit bats made from ultra-light maple. The low-density wood often is found in bats with big barrels and thin handles, creating a whip-like action when swung. Softer red maple and silver maple — not commonly used — will be completely eliminated by the 30-plus companies approved to make bats.

The bans apply to players who are not on 40-man rosters and have no major league experience. Baseball often tests new rules on minor leaguers, be it drug tests or pace-of-game ideas, because most of them are not in the MLB players’ union and such moves do not require union approval.

Lest you think this is just for the minor leaguers:

As part of the safety initiative, any big leaguer whose bat broke at least 10 times last year must consult with a panel of MLB and union bat experts to determine if there is some extenuating problem.

Baseball also is changing the specifications for all bats, slimming the maximum diameter of the barrel from 2.75 inches — which had been the standard for more than 100 years — to 2.61 inches. Trying to change the geometry of bats, the minimum size of bat handles is being increasing by about 1-50th of an inch.

(click “view full post” to read more, including some of our prior ramblings on maple bats)
Continue reading Finally! Maple bats face ban

Finally, the cry to ban maple bats is getting louder

I’ve been ranting about this for some time now, insisting that MLB ban the use of maple bats until they have a reasonable solution. Good to read that there are others in the MSM who are joining the charge:


it’s no mystery why so many bats are splintering on contact: Some 55 percent of players prefer maple bats popularized by Barry Bonds. Maple bats tend to snap when broken. A broken bat made of ash, on the other hand, usually cracks.

The distinction is important. A snapped maple bat can deposit debris that travels as far as 100 feet, in any direction. A cracked ash bat almost always remains in one piece.

Although research at the University of Massachusetts-Lowell has proven that maple provides no extra power, old habits – unlike maple bats – are hard to break. So those players who prefer maple will continue to use maple. it’s legal, isn’t it?

The author, John McGrath proposes an interesting alternative to a flat-out ban on maple:

Here’s a better idea: Allow hitters the freedom to swing a maple bat, with handles as thin as they want. But if the bat snaps and any piece of it lands on the field, the hitter is ruled out on batter’s interference.

Creative. Not sure how I feel about it, but I sure like hearing some alternatives.

Other related posts on this bat issue:

Continue reading Finally, the cry to ban maple bats is getting louder

Enough already: Ban the maple!

What on Earth is MLB waiting for, a serious injury? Death? We narrowly escaped it last night when Kerwin Danley got knocked on the noggin with a shattered bat.

With one out in the sixth, Rangers designated hitter Hank Blalock’s bat broke on an infield pop. A large piece flew back and hit Danley on the side of the head, knocking him to the ground.

It was a high and inside fastball, a cutter that broke my bat,” Blalock said. “I heard something happen behind the plate and I figured the barrel hit somebody. As soon as the out was made I turned around and Kerwin was lying down. I felt bad, it was an accident.”

If nothing else, ban the maple until a solution is found.

EDIT/UPDATE: Thanks to reader Dre and further looking on my part, Blalock was indeed using an ash bat. I unfortunately assumed that given the way the bat shattered, it HAD to be maple. Thanks for keeping me honest!


Blalock uses an ash bat, which shatter differently than maple bats and are generally considered to be less risky. Ash bats tend to crack lengthwise while maple bats usually explode into several fragments and travel further.

It still doesn’t change my ever-repetitive refrain about banning maple until a solution is found. In case you haven’t been paying attention, my thoughts on the maple bat “situation”:

Continue reading Enough already: Ban the maple!

Dunn switches to ash from maple

Fearing the potential horror that would come from a shattered maple bat, Adam Dunn has switched back to ash, stats be damned. Good for him.

Maple is too dangerous . . . I switched last June,” Dunn said. “Those bats shatter. One of them is going to end up sticking out of somebody’s neck. Maybe [a fan] in the stands. I’m not being that guy that did it.”

With those words, Dunn may be the first player in baseball who has rejected the lethal maple bats that are a tragedy waiting to happen. The whole sport knows it. It’s being “studied.”

Using the ash probably does take away some homers, probably. If you don’t quite get it, miss it a little, it doesn’t go as far,” said Dunn. “I’ll take one, two, three less homers and not have my name on the barrel of the bat sticking in somebody. I saw a [shattered] bat go around an umpire’s head last year.”

In case you haven’t been paying attention, my thoughts on the maple bat “situation”:

Continue reading Dunn switches to ash from maple

Maple bats and minus 3.5

Among many of the esoteric and rarely known/discussed rules includes the rule that the specifications for a bat’s length and weight must not exceed -3.5. Adding to the list of things for which I am clueless, this rule is one of them.

“We’ve been told that they probably won’t ban maple, that they will come up with some recommendations for changing what we do now,” said [Brian] Hillerich, professional bat production manager for [Hillerich & Bradsby, which makes the Louisville Slugger], which has a 60% share of the MLB market.

One of the remedies to reduce the number of broken bats is to change the difference between the length and weight of a bat. According to MLB rules, bats can be no more than minus-3.5, which means the difference between the length in inches and weight in ounces cannot be greater than 3.5.

“A 34-inch, 30.5-ounce bat is waiting to be broken in half,” Hillerich said.

I have no idea whether what Hillerich says is indeed true, but I’m in favor of any change that will help prevent the epidemic of exploding bats. Continue reading Maple bats and minus 3.5