Starting in 2018, USAbat, a new standard in the youth barrel bats, comes into effect. For many, this standard will replace the USSSA BPF 1.15 certification currently found on baseball bats, creating stricter regulation in terms of allowable pop on bats. The barrel’s however, will be up to 2 5/8, up from the original 2 1/4. This change, as well as the age change in Little League, create the biggest change in amateur baseball we may have ever seen.
Do I need to Buy a USABat?
In short, it depends.
You will not need to buy a USAbat if you…
- Are at least 12 years old at the moment (2016)*
- Don’t play in the leagues whose national affiliate requires AND the local league enforces the new standard
It is possible you will never be in a league where USAbats are required. The standard will be implemented while you may be going into 14 year old baseball (2018) and most 14 year old baseball is BBCOR. BBCOR is not being replaced by USAbats.
The National Affiliations are: American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball, Dixie Youth Baseball, Little League Baseball and PONY Baseball.
It is possible many local leagues will not enforce the bat rules until a later date than January 2018. This will give many of those BPF 1.15 bats a chance to live their useful life.
You will need to buy a USAbat if you…
- Are still young enough to play in the Little League World Series for 2018
- Play in a league that is affiliated with a USABats national association AND the local league enforces the rules on day one
NOTE: Many local leagues have a lot of liberty in terms of what rules they enforce. If you want to play in the national or state tournaments sponsored by these associations, then you will need the new USAbat starting 1/1/2018.
Video Explanation of the 2018 USA Bats Standard
Should I buy a 2017 Bat if I need a new one in 2018?
This is the question of all questions and has many vendors and manufacturers a bit worried about 2017 sales volumes. But, we are not so sure it will be that big of a deal for most.
For many, the USAbat standard simply won’t apply. As we discuss above, lots will be in leagues that either don’t follow the standards, aren’t affiliated with the association or are using BBCOR. We’d venture to guess this grouping makes up at least 80% of the aluminum and composite baseball market.
Further, lots of elite players plan on buying a new bat each year anyway. So, if they happen to fall into that 20% of players that are under the new standard, they simply buy a 2017 BPF 1.15 bat and then a USABat for 2018.
Some, on the other hand, will get the shaft-o-matic—in particular, current 9 and 10 year olds who will fall under the standard and still end up purchasing a BPF 1.15 bat in the late spring and early fall of 2017. Additionally, families that have a at least two kids close in age who end up using the same bat may be forced to pull the trigger on a usually not-so-cheap-baseball bat for a *reason that has yet to be explained satisfactorily.
Who Will Make the USABats?
The same names you’ve come to know and love will be producing USAbats for the 2018 season. Easton, DeMarini, Slugger, Rawlings and so on. There will be, we guess, a USABat MAKO, CF USABat as well as the other name brands.
When Can You Buy a USAbat?
We don’t expect any USAbats to be for sale until the fall of 2017. We have yet to see any of these bats and, now that we think about it, don’t think they exist yet. But soon enough. Expect the 2017 Little League World Series a great time to check out the new gear.
A Major Bat Vendor’s Take
We got a take on USABats from the famous Mad Max of YouTube Fame and closeoutbats. The following is a short Q&A from him.
Max: The USA Bats will become the new bat standard for American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball, Dixie Youth Baseball, Little League Baseball and PONY Baseball. in January 2018. We should care because these will be the new bats people will buy if you are playing in those leagues.
JBR: Who will this new standard affect?
Max: The new bat standard will affect kids that are age 12 and under playing in American Amateur Baseball Congress (AABC), Amateur Athletic Union (AAU), Babe Ruth Baseball/Cal Ripken Baseball, Dixie Youth Baseball, Little League Baseball and PONY Baseball.
JBR: From an offensive production standpoint, how effective will this new standard be in dampening ball speed?
Max: The way these new USA bats will perform will be more like a “wood bat”. The ball will not come off with the same exit velocity. It will not come off as hard and go as far.
JBR: When can we buy USABats?
Max: The idea is to have the new USA bats out in fall of 2017.
JBR: Will my BPF 1.15 bat be legal in my league after 2018?
Max: That is the most important question. If your league is adopting the new USA Bat standard, you can not use them. If you play on a club team and go to different tournaments that answer might be yes or no. It would be suggested to check before.
JBR: If I am in a USSSA 1.15 2 1/4 Little League league in both 2017 and 2018, what will be the best strategy for making sure I don’t have to buy two bats in a matter of weeks from each other?
Max: If you are looking to buy one bat. I would wait for Fall of 2017 when the new bats are due to come out.