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With the College World Series upon us, I thought it would be interesting to bring up a topic that stands out in college baseball. Where is the offense? The college baseball game has changed from an explosive offensive show, to three or four run ball games. From the ACC to the PAC 12, there has been an alarming fall in power numbers in college baseball. Home Runs, doubles, RBI’s, and slugging percentages have taken a drastic fall in the last four to five years. Before 2011, schools were putting up numbers like never before, consistently hitting over 100 home runs a year. Heck, In 1999 Marshall McDougall, of FSU, hit six home runs in one game! My question is simple…why the sudden change? If you follow baseball (which I am sure you do), I know what you’re going to say. The bats.
Here is a list of the top four, Division 1 Universities in team home runs for the 2010 season.
Now, here are those same four teams the next year (2011).
If you didn’t do the math, that is a drop of -92 (Auburn), -74 (Georgia Tech), -60 (Coastal Car.), and -73 (Miami,FL). Did all the power hitters leave in one year? Did the fences go back 20 feet?
In the 2009 NCAA Tournament, multiple test were performed on 25 random bats. These tests were to find the BESR or Ball Exit Speed Ratio of aluminum bats being used in the tournament. The tests found that 20 of the 25 bats failed the BESR. The players were finding ways to roll bats or alter their trampoline effect. In 2011, the NCAA stepped in, by requiring all players to use BBCOR, (Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution) Certified Bats. The NCAA’s goal was to ensure safety during games by lowering the average exit speed of the ball off the bat. This would seem like a very easy target to blame for the decrease of offensive numbers in college baseball. While the introduction of BBCOR caused a major riff in the world of college hitting, the bats only masked true causes for the offensive numbers to plummet.
Through my research; personal experiences; and speaking with coaches and players, the power issues, especially in college baseball, are chalked up to the weak and flawed mechanics used and taught, not just the change in bats. The college baseball hitter’s weak, knob to the ball, backside mentality of the last 15 to 20 years, is finally being exposed. All of these movements are very static and un-athletic, but the metal bats of old have been masking the efficiency and effectiveness of the the mass produced, “cookie cutter” swings for years.
College players today are part of the “baseball camp technique” generation. Coaches at the highest levels have been teaching “easy” mechanics to athletes instead of creating more explosive movements. Why? Coaches do not have the time or the skills and are usually busy with things like practice plans, study hall, getting the field ready, and the recruiting process. This does not leave much room for mastering hitting ideas. There is just too much demand of their time.
Once again not every college hitter is put into this boat. There are high level athletes and movers that, despite the information they get everyday in the cage, overcome flawed mechanics. Chas mentioned A-Rod overcoming bad advice in a previous article that you can read here. However, I believe that every college hitter can be put into a high level pattern, if they dedicated their time to learn and rebel against the “modern” approach to hitting.
Like I stated earlier, there are players out there whose natural explosiveness can not not be stopped. Kris Bryant, third baseman for The University of San Diego, (recently drafted 2nd overall by the Chicago Cubs), has been a prime example of a college hitter that uses the same techniques that Baseball Rebellion teaches. Even with the BBCOR certification in place, Kris has continued to have offensive success. Here are some of Kris’s offensive numbers this year:
Batting Average: .329 Doubles: 13 Home Runs: 31 RBIs: 62 Slugging %: 820 Strike Outs: 44
DJ Peterson from the University of New Mexico is another guy on top of the power number charts this year. Let’s take a look at some of his numbers this year.
Batting Average: .408 Doubles: 25 Home Runs: 18 RBIs: 72 Slugging %: 807 Strike Outs: 35
As you can see from DJ’s video there are a lot of lower half similarities between him and Kris. In DJ’s video, he clearly gets his back foot “over the bug“, not squishing it, and lots of good hip and shoulder separation. It is hard to tell if he is as good as Kris with his arms from the view. Even though it seems he let his arms get away from him on this particular swing, overall their mechanics are similar and very close to what Baseball Rebellion teaches.
Now, how come Kris and DJ did not see the huge drop in offense that most of college baseball saw when the BBCOR Bat Certification was put into place? It is because most of the college baseball players use and are taught the same anemic “cookie cutter”, “hands to the ball”, low level, little league mechanics. When college hitters lost the huge advantage previous bats gave them, their numbers dropped and their flaws were exposed. Kris and DJ are proof that if you have the right mechanics, it does not matter what bat you use. Even with the BBCOR bat, Kris hit 2 fewer home runs as the WHOLE MIAMI TEAM hit in 2011.
Should we as parents, coaches, and instructors just teach what is “easy” for them to do and hope they turn out to be physically superior and then stumble into having explosive movements? Some might say this is baseball’s way of naturally selecting players that will move on to higher levels one day. With the BBCOR Certification in place that day of natural selection is going to come sooner than before. For our hitters at I.T.S. Baseball and Baseball Rebellion, we want to delay that ‘Judgement Day‘ as long as possible.
If your son or daughter is receiving lessons somewhere, open your eyes and ask yourself… Do they just hit balls the entire time? Can they back it up with video evidence? Are the drills explosive? If not, how long do you think the handicaps from the bats and competition allow your son or daughter to continue playing and have success playing with or against players who are preparing the right way.
JK Whited, Baseball Rebellion