By Trey McCurry.
With the baseball season less than 10 days away, TheClemsonInsider wanted to give fans a little information about two major rule changes that are being implemented in college baseball for the 2011 season. The first major change is dealing with the bats used, while the second change focuses on a pitch clock.
The pitch clock is the easiest to explain and should not affect the Clemson pitching staff very much. Last year, a pitch clock was used experimentally during the season and this year a timing device is mandated. The current rules require that pitchers must start their delivery in no more than 20 seconds when there are no runners on base and there is a 90 second limit between half innings. This time limit is extended to 108 seconds during televised games. The penalty for abusing this limit is a called ball or strike, depends on who which team commits the infraction.
The biggest change for the 2011 season will be in the bats. While the time limit requires more focus and hustle, the change in bats will require at least some teams to employ an entirely different philosophy on how they play the game. The change in bats is much more difficult to describe than the time limit.
In the past, players have used composite bats tested on the BESR (ball exit speed ratio) testing method. With the new rules, players will use BBCOR (ball-bat coefficient of restitution) tested bats. These new bats focus on what the bat and ball do on contact, rather than the exit speed of the ball off the bat. The NCAA is also limiting the size of the barrel to a 2.5 inch diameter and the difference in weight (in ounces) and length (in inches) can be no more than plus-three.
In the end, the new bats are expected to greatly reduce homers and make most teams turn to a more small-ball type philosophy. Clemson should be fine with both the new bats and the time limit. Coach Leggett has been known to be a small-ball coach and the Tiger pitching staff has always worked at a very quick pace. Look for the Tigers to take advantage of their team speed in 2011 by having more hit-and-run situations, be more aggressive on the base paths, and be a “doubles” type team. The pitching staff will continue to work fast and since the other teams now have to work fast as well, don’t be shocked to see game times reduced by as much as 30 minutes as compared to last season.