I’ll be talking high school baseball with Monticello head coach Mike Marra Friday night around 6:20 p.m. on 102.1 FM. Even if the signal doesn’t reach you, the broadcast will be available online: http://thunder102.com/
We’ll discuss the teams and players to watch this year as well as one of the biggest topics in high school baseball this season: the new BBCOR bats.
One year ago, the NCAA switched over to BBCOR bats, which are designed to act much more like wood bats than their predecessors. The main goal is safety. Since the ball jumps off the bat at a slower speed, pitchers have a little more time to react to line drives up the middle, as will infielders and base coaches.
The compromise with the BBCOR bats is that the balls that once traveled over the fence maybe now wind up in the gap. Those balls in the gap might be line drive singles. Those line drive singles might be weak ground balls or pop-ups.
I will have plenty of reaction from local coaches in our season preview, which is scheduled to run in the Times Herald-Record on Monday, April 2.
Their opinions have basically boiled down to a couple of main points. Coaches generally believe that run scoring will be down in high school baseball this year and that there will be a renewed focus on the fundamentals: pitching and defense.
Not only will pitchers likely see their ERAs go down because of the BBCOR bats, it might also give pitchers more confidence to pound the strike zone and pitch to contact.
Strictly as a baseball fan, that would make me very happy. Fewer walks and more emphasis on offensive strategy (hit-and-runs, stolen bases, bunts) and defensive skill is a game I’d much rather watch than the walk-filled slugfests of the last few years.
Not all coaches insist that the game will change that dramatically. Some of the teams that play in more expansive parks (or fields without an outfield fence to begin with) have downplayed any offensive decrease.
Time, however, will tell just how much of an impact the bats will have.
If you have any BBCOR theories, or if you;re looking for updates throughout the season, you can follow me on Twitter: @THR_Montgomery.
A pair of former Section 9 baseball players are looking forward to big seasons in the big leagues in 2012.
Jason Motte, the former Valley Central catcher, was on the mound for the St. Louis Cardinals during the final out of the 2011 World Series. He’ll have a bigger role this year as the Cards’ closer from opening day on.
Mike Aviles of Middletown has won the job as the Boston Red Sox’s starting shortstop. Aviles will likely split time with Nick Punto on occasion and Boston also has a defensive whiz at AAA in Jose Iglesias. Aviles has always been a hitter, but he had a hard time finding a regular job at his previous major league stop, Kansas City, often platooning between second, third and shortstop.