Breaking Down the USA Bat Standard and Understanding the Effect on Youth Baseball

The New 2018 USA Bat Youth Bats are here! Please read our constantly updated article here!



WHAT IS THIS RULE CHANGE ALL ABOUT?

While our main focus is on youth baseball bat reviews and evaluations, it’s equally important we provide a clear and concise breakdown of the USA BAT Standard. By highlighting the standard’s major points and presenting an unbiased on the full economic impact, we hope to help the affected families adapt as quickly as possible.    


5 KEY IMPACTS YOUTH BASEBALL FAMILIES SHOULD PREPARE FOR IN 2018

When USA Baseball officially adopts the USABAT standard on January 1st 2018, families should expect the following immediate changes:  

  1. Any bat you own of a 2017 model and older will become ineligible.
    By implementing a new bat performance standard, this consequently makes all bats of a 2017 model and older illegal. Under no circumstances will USA Baseball allow these bats to be used for games or even practices.

  2. Expect all 2018 youth baseball bats to perform at “wood-like levels.
    Every USA Baseball publication that discusses the new standard repeatedly mentions the importance of upholding the “long term integrity of the game." Judging from this statement, it’s safe to assume that all 2018 youth baseball bats will generate less power when compared to older bat models. Bats that produce “wood-like level” swings will not deliver the level of pop found in composite and aluminum bats from years past.  

  3. The USABAT Standard will not include a drop-weight limit.
    Unlike the BBCOR which limits to a baseball bat’s length/weight ratio to drop -3, the USABAT Standard will not have a limit. This gives players of all statures and sizes the freedom to swing any size bat just as long as the bat displays the USABAT Stamp.  

  4. Youth baseball bat barrel sizes will come in two options-  2 ¼ barrel  or 2 5/8 barrel.
    USA Baseball now will allow 2 5/8 barrel bats. These barrel sizes will be the only two available for players.

  5. The USABAT Standard will not affect the Senior Division of Little League.
    USA Baseball now will allow 2 5/8 barrel bats. These barrel sizes will be the only two available for players.


WHY DID USA BASEBALL MAKE A CHANGE?

As previously mentioned, USA Baseball’s #1 reason for changing the bat performance standard is to preserve “the long-term integrity of the game”. According to USA Baseball, recent technological advancements have emerged which allow manufactures to develop non-wood bats that perform at wood-like levels. By utilizing these this of bat, the number of high scoring youth baseball games will decrease. Of course, there will always be games that feature a bunch of runs but the consistency of witnessing these high scoring games will diminish. The new standard reduces the trampoline effect on the baseball more than the old standard thereby decreasing the amount of pop youth players are accustom to generating. By utilizing the USABAT Standard, USA Baseball believes they have taken a major step towards bringing back realistic offensive statistics back which have disappeared during the recent composite bat era.

By adopting a more uniformed standard, USA Baseball also normalizes the bat performance regulations for all players regardless of league affiliation. Remember, the vast majority of youth baseball players participate in one of the following organizations below.

  • Little League
  • Pony
  • Cal Ripken/Babe Ruth
  • AAU
  • AABC
  • Dixie

Implementing the USABAT Standard on a universal platform allows youth baseball families to switch leagues without the worry of adapting to a different bat performance standard. As long as your child plays for a one of the USA Baseball affiliates listed above, the USABAT standard will always apply to you.  


2 MAJOR INFLUENCES FOR USA BASEBALL TO MAKE THE CHANGE

1. THE SUCCESS OF THE BBCOR (BATTED BALL COEFFICIENT OF RESTITUTION)

In 2015, a Wall Street Journal article cited a study conducted by the National Sporting Goods Association regarding youth baseball drop outs. They found that 8.8 million children played organized baseball in the year 2000 vs 5.3 million in 2013. The point we are trying to make is this: At a time when the demand for youth baseball equipment is low, the USABAT Standard will indirectly provide a significant surge in baseball bat sales.   

One of our core objectives is to provide a unique and unbiased perspective on all the aspects associated with the USABAT Standard including the business side. Having said that, it’s impossible to ignore the inevitable revenue spikes that will impact the youth baseball bat market.  At a time when youth baseball registrations continue to reach record low levels, the sporting goods industry can anticipate a financial boost when the 2018 youth baseball bats are released. Please note, we are not implying that USA Baseball implemented this new standard to drive bat sales, however how can we ignore the monumental increase in profits that comes from forcing every single youth baseball player across the country to purchase a brand new bat all at one time?

In recent years, many studies have documented significant decreases in the participation of youth organized sports. According to an annual study conducted by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, a 9% decline occurred in the US from 2010-2015. Unfortunately, 3% of which came from the sport of baseball. This same study showed that among the 5.54 million youth baseball participants in 2007 ranging from ages 6-12, 1.2 million have dropped within an 8 year span as 4.34 million registered in 2015.

Within 8 years, youth baseball has witnessed a 21.6% decline in participants. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say youth baseball organizations expects to receive an average of $200 per player from registration fees, fund raising revenue, and team sponsorships.  By losing 1.2 million participants, youth baseball has incurred a revenue loss of approximately $240 million dollars over a small 8 year window.

By embracing the USABAT Standard, USA Baseball expects to generate similar results. In fact, you would think the reduction of injuries would be the top reason why USA Baseball made the change right? Well actually, they firmly state that injuries WERE NOT A FACTOR in the decision to adopt the USABAT Standard. (See question 18)

We understand the logic behind their answer however, the fact that youth baseball will experience a decline in bat related injuries is something that should be praised and discussed further instead of swept under the rug. Using bats that limit power will slow down the speed on the baseball which theoretically makes the game safer overall to some degree. Positive expectations like this shouldn’t be purposefully ignored but it’s easy to understand why. If USA Baseball acknowledges that injuries are expected to decrease, that may make it seem like youth baseball has an injury “problem” in need of fixing. From a business standpoint, negative words like “injury” doesn’t help generating revenue. The last thing any youth sports organization wants is their brand being linked to a problematic injury situation.  

2. A FINANCIAL BOOST IN A DECLINING MARKET     

One of our core objectives is to provide a unique and unbiased perspective on all the aspects associated with the USABAT Standard including the business side. Having said that, it’s impossible to ignore the inevitable revenue spikes that will impact the youth baseball bat market.  At a time when youth baseball registrations continue to reach record low levels, the sporting goods industry can anticipate a financial boost when the 2018 youth baseball bats are released. Please note, we are not implying that USA Baseball implemented this new standard to drive bat sales, however how can we ignore the monumental increase in profits that comes from forcing every single youth baseball player across the country to purchase a brand new bat all at one time?

In recent years, many studies have documented significant decreases in the participation of youth organized sports. According to an annual study conducted by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, a 9% decline occurred in the US from 2010-2015. Unfortunately, 3% of which came from the sport of baseball. This same study showed that among the 5.54 million youth baseball participants in 2007 ranging from ages 6-12, 1.2 million have dropped within an 8 year span as 4.34 million registered in 2015.

Within 8 years, youth baseball has witnessed a 21.6% decline in participants. Hypothetically speaking, let’s say youth baseball organizations expects to receive an average of $200 per player from registration fees, fund raising revenue, and team sponsorships.  By losing 1.2 million participants, youth baseball has incurred a revenue loss of approximately $240 million dollars over a small 8 year window.

In 2015, a Wall Street Journal article cited a study conducted by the National Sporting Goods Association regarding youth baseball drop outs. They found that 8.8 million children played organized baseball in the year 2000 vs 5.3 million in 2013. The point we are trying to make is this: At this time when the demand for youth baseball equipment is low, the USABAT Standard will indirectly provide a significant surge in baseball bat sales.  


THE BOTTOM LINE

For the first time in many years, every single youth baseball player will be swinging a brand new bat in 2018. Every youth dugout in America will be lined with only 2018 model youth bats. USA Baseball has repeatedly stated that the USABAT Standard is for the betterment of the sport because it will uphold the “long term integrity of the game” with injuries and financial profits not playing a role in the decision. This may be true, however we can’t ignore the obvious financial gain associated with implementing a new standard. What if tomorrow, the US government decides to implement a law that only 2018 model vehicle are allowed to be driven starting 1/1/2018? What if the rationale behind the law was to uphold the “long term integrity of our environment”?  This hypothetical scenario might be a bit extravagant, however it does put into perspective the economic impact directly caused by USA Baseball implementing the USABAT Standard.

Check out some of the eligible 2018 youth baseball bats here!