The Wall Street Journal’s Amanda Christovich looks at the crackdown on what had been a speed and distance chase in youth baseball. Home runs are way down in the Little League World Series two years in a row now since “deader” bats mimicking wood were introduced for a variety of reasons.
Thanks to reader LS who detected the many things golf can learn from the USA Baseball moves, which seemed determined to keep the sport sane and safe both instead of emphasis on exit velocity, particularly since most young lads may not be physically ready for the emphasis on speed.
But that kind of power surge is not likely to happen at this year’s Little League Baseball World Series, which is now underway. Regulation changes—most notably, the switch to a “deader” bat that mimics wood bats—mean home runs in Williamsport this year are on the verge of becoming extinct.
“The difference is astounding,” said Patrick Gloriod, who coached the Peachtree City Little League team in the 2018 LLBWS and witnessed the steep decline in home runs at that tournament once the new bats went into use.
None of this would be a problem, if not for the fact that the best youth players have spent the last few years developing a swing designed for one thing: to hit as many home runs as possible.
They’ll get over it. Will TV?
“Telling everyone to swing up is the same as telling everyone to swing down,” said Bleecker.
If last year’s trend continues, those dismayed that the major-league ball is juiced can rejoice in how the Little League bat is deadened.
“I’m not sure how much ESPN is gonna like watching small ball,” said Gloriod.