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Little League International Announces Bat Rules Changes for the 2012 Season

In an effort to provide timely information on bat rules, Little League International today announced the bat specifications and standards for the 2012 season.      

Here are the highlights, followed by the actual text of the 2012 baseball bat rules:

  • For the Little League Major Baseball Division and below: The moratorium on composite-barreled baseball bats remains in effect. However, some composite-barreled baseball bats that have been proven in laboratory testing to meet the BPF (Bat Performance Factor) standard throughout the life of the bat, through the Accelerated Break-In (ABI) process, have received waivers. That list is here: Licensed/Approved Composite 2 1/4 Bats.

Note that in the Little League Majors Baseball Division and below, there is no limit on the “drop” weight of any bat.

  • For Junior League Baseball: The rule was updated to reflect the changes that were anticipated and published two years ago regarding bats with 2 5/8 inch barrels. As a result, composite-barreled baseball bats in this division, regardless of barrel size, must meet BBCOR (Batted Ball Co-Efficient of Restitution) standards, and must be so labeled. Note that all composite-barreled baseball bats that meet the BBCOR standard have a “drop” of no more than “minus-3.” However, in the Junior League Baseball division, bats that do not have composite materials in the barrel (i.e., all metal, all alloy, all wood), and meet all other applicable standards, can have ANY drop weight. Bats with a barrel of less than 2 5/8 inches also can be used in the Junior League Baseball Division, but must still comply with all other specifications noted.
  • For Senior League Baseball and Big League Baseball: The rule was updated to reflect the changes that were anticipated and published two years ago regarding bats with 2 5/8 inch barrels. As a result, all bats with non-wood barrels must meet BBCOR (Batted Ball Co-Efficient of Restitution) standards, and must be so labeled. Because all BBCOR bats have a “drop” of no more than “minus-3,” this means all non-wood bats in these divisions must have a drop of no more than minus-3.
  • Tamper-Evident Bats: Because the technology to create bats that show evidence of tampering is not yet available, this aspect of the rules that was anticipated and published two years ago, and again last year, will not apply in 2012.
  • Penalty for Use of an Illegal Bat: Previously, the penalty for the use of an illegal bat was simply to remove the bat from the game. In 2012, the penalty has been increased as noted in the rules below.
  • Definition of an Illegal Bat: To narrow the definition of an illegal bat, a new entry was added to Rule 2.00, specifically describing an illegal bat for the purposes of imposing the penalty. As a result, the definition includes altered bats, but excludes a bat that: is no longer smooth because of normal use; is cracked or dented because of normal use; has a handle that has a smaller diameter than the measurement noted in the specifications; or, has material on the grip (or no material) that does not meet the specifications.
  • Softball: All rules regarding bats in all softball divisions remain the same as in 2011. The moratorium on composite-barreled bats does not apply to softball.
  • Licensed Bats: As it has for decades, Little League is publishing a list of licensed bats, all of which have a barrel diameter of 2 1/4 inches. This is not a list of all bats that can be used. As long as the bat meets all the specifications and standards for the specific division of play in question, it need not carry the Little League trademark. (Note that Little League does not license any bats with a diameter of 2 5/8 inches.) The list of licensed 2 1/4 bats can be downloaded as a PDF here: All Licensed 2 1/4 Bats.
  • A list of approved and licensed composite bats can be found on the Little League website at www.littleleague.org.
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