Every few years, new rules come up that govern the sport of baseball and softball. Balls are being hit harder, and the regulators are doing their best to keep these two sports safe. Some of these regulations dictate what bats can be used and what cannot.
One such example is USA Baseball’s new bat standard, effected on January 1, 2018. Another would be the switch to the BBCOR standard, which happened on January 1, 2012, for all high school and collegiate baseball bats.
In this regard, it is essential to understand the history and what was previously allowed. This knowledge can be important when molding future regulations.
Here is a quick guide to the BESR regulation.
What are BESR Bats?
BESR, which is short for Ball Exit Speed Ratio, was a bat standard sanctioned by the NCAA and most high school leagues between 1998 and 2011 to govern adult baseball bats. BESR bats started the conversation about the safety and performance of alloy and composite bats.
The standard stipulated that:
- Non-wood would have a maximum exit speed of 97 mph.
- Adult wood baseball bats barrels would be 2 3/4 inches thick at most.
- Non-wood bat barrels would be 2 5/8 inches thick at most.
- In length, these bats should’ve been no more than 36 inches long and no more than 3 oz less than the bat’s weight (e.g., a bat that was 33-inches long should weigh 30 ounces at its lightest)
BESR standard bats are iconic bats to a lot of people out there. Kids revered old Eastons and TPX Sluggers by kids who played Little League and are now adults. So, when you think back to all those awesome bats you used to use as a child, there is a good chance of a BESR certification.
The NCAA requires certification for all non-wood bats to regulate their “liveliness”. BESR, by its very definition, gives away its calculation, which measures the ratio between the bat’s speed, how fast the ball is thrown, and how fast the ball leaves the bat once impact has been made. You can read about the physics behind it here.
The key to this is that BESR required non-wood bats to have an equal or lesser exit velocity potential than a high-quality wood bat. This evened the playing field in that respect, without having to actually use a wood bat.
Bat companies complied and made bats that originally fit the regulations but BESR’s fundamental flaw came to light. Composite bats would initially pass the tests right out of the wrapper, but since composite bats need breaking in to perform at full potential, they would get hotter and hotter over time. When fully broken in, they’d eventually exceed the BESR standard and what the regulations allowed. This flaw lasted until 2011 when the BBCOR replaced it.
BESR vs. BBCOR vs. BPF
At its core, all of these regulations focus on performance. To improve the game’s safety, balls coming off of the bat cannot be at dangerous speeds. Hence why technology and the rules that govern this technology is always evolving.
BESR measured the ratio between bat speed, ball speed, and exit velocity. This ratio was calculated in controlled conditions, and the resulting number was known as the BESR (Ball Exit Speed Ratio). Certified bats needed to meet or fall below a predetermined number set by the NCAA as a result of these tests.
On the other hand, BBCOR standard measures the energy lost as the ball comes off the bat, aka “trampoline effect”. More trampoline effect = the ball coming off the bat faster. At the surface level, both of these designations are tests for performance and exit velocity. This is how these two are similar. The biggest difference in the calculation process is that the BBCOR bats are tested after they’re broken in. If you remember, this was the main issue that plagued the BESR standard.
Lastly, BPF1.15 regulates smaller-barrel bats used by players between the age of 7 to 12 years old playing in the Little League, Cal Ripken, etc. This standard placed a limit on a bats “trampoline effect”, to not more than 1.15.