SLATE HILL — I took a trip this morning to see John S. Burke Catholic play at Minisink Valley in a spring break matinee and get a bit of video for our spring sports show. I was curious to see how some local players had adjusted to the new BBCOR bats and what their thoughts were on some fairly high run totals early in the season, even with the new, supposedly offense-deadening bats.
And then I saw Julian Placencia and Andrew Nutt in the on-deck circle take a knee and start putting pine tar on their bats.
We’ll have much more on these guys in our spring sports video, which will hit Varsity845.com soon, but here’ a snippet of the interviews.
TH-R: Why are you using a wood bat this year instead of a BBCOR?
Placencia: “Switching from the BESR to the BBCOR, I don’t like the way the BBCORs feel at all. I used wood over the summer, so I’m used to the wood already and I don’t want to switch back and forth from metal to wood, so I just stick with wood.”
Nutt: “I played travel two years ago and last year with wood bats and I always found that the BBCORs were top-heavy. I never liked when you made cotact the feeling you got from it.”
Placencia: “You don’t really feel anything. I feel, with wood, you feel more of the bat and ball.”
Minisink Valley shortstop Carlos Mapes also considered using wood this year, but he decided at the last minute to go with a BBCOR bat instead.
“I started using the bat in early spring before the season started and I noticed there was a big difference from the BESR bats with the ball coming off at a slower speed. I actually didn’t know whether to use wood or the BBCOR, but I decided to go with the BBCOR. A little bigger sweet spot than the wood,” Mapes said.
Through Monday’s games, run-scoring is still up a bit compared to games from last season in Section 9. Through 54 games in the 2012 season, teams are averaging 13.1 runs per game. Through games on the second Monday in April in 2011 (65 games), teams were averaging 11.3 runs per game. Again, plenty of factors for that – a few blowouts driving up the averages, mis-matched non-league games early in the season, etc. – but it is interesting so far.
1) Here is a link to a fun article by Rob Neyer about Rays manager Joe Maddon’s crazy infield shifts for nearly every hitter this season. Are any teams in Section 9 employing the shift? I think what Maddon does has a lot to do with all of the data he has at his fingertips on opposing hitters and where they tend to hit the ball. High school coaches could guess at a shift, but don’t have a chart with a season’s worth of hit locations to go on.
2) There are some rule quirks in high school baseball, but one of the most interesting is the designated fielder. If a team, for example, uses a designated hitter but the pitcher also hits for himself, that means someone in the lineup plays a position in the field but never goes to the plate. Do you know of any designated fielders? How prevalent is this in Section 9?