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Bat Performance Standards: How Do They Differ? What Do They Mean?

Posted by AxeBat US Admin on

Bat Performance Standards: How Do They Differ? What Do They Mean?

Published by Kyle Hodge, Lead Product & Testing Engineer

Any bat owner in today’s climate knows that having the correct stamps on your bat is vital to ensure your bat can be used in your particular league. Since the inception of metal and composite bats, league standards have become both more stringent and more common, to promote both the integrity of the game and player safety.  However, the increased importance of these standards and accompanying stamps can make bat-buying a more difficult and stressful process. We’re here to help!

Covered in this post:
  • Which Leagues Use Which Stamps
  • How Bats Are Tested
  • What Do the Performance Standards Mean? (.500 BBCOR, 1.15 BPF, etc.)
  • Is One Stamp Better Than Another?

 Which Leagues Use Which Stamps

The table below can be used to help identify which bat stamp may be necessary for the league you play in. While the table may not include every possible league or association, and some leagues certainly have exceptions, the table below can be used as a general guide for buying the correct bat for your league:

Bat stamp

 * All fastpitch Axe Bats, including the 2022 Avenge Pro, feature all stamps listed above, and are certified for any fastpitch association in the United States, including but not limited to USSSA, ASA/USA, ISA, NSA, WBSC, and are usable for all ages from youth through college.

 How Bats Are Tested

Performance testing of bats to ensure they meet a given regulatory standard is an extremely complex process, only capable of being measured in a handful of laboratories across the world. Prior to any testing being completed, all variables must be controlled: all systems involved must be calibrated, temperature and humidity must be regulated, and even each specific baseball or softball used for testing must undergo a calibration procedure.

The performance of each bat is measured utilizing an industry standardized “bat performance cannon.” The performance cannons, such as the one in Axe Bat’s laboratory shown in the photos below, are extremely precise, shooting baseballs and softballs with a location accuracy of approximately 1/16th of an inch in each direction.

Bat Cannon

The cannons are utilized to shoot a baseball or softball at a stationary bat, which is free to rotate in a pivoting fixture. The fired ball will impact the bat and rebound in the direction from which it was fired. The inbound and outbound speeds of the ball before and after impact are measured via high-precision light gates, measuring down to the hundredth of a mile per hour.  The ratio of the inbound versus outbound speeds are then input into a performance equation for each given association, and when combined with other factors (such as bat weight, length, MOI, impact location, etc.) will result in a bat performance value, such as: .500 BBCOR or 1.15 BPF.

For any given bat, the performance value will be measured longitudinally along the length of the barrel, for example, from 4” from the tip of the endcap, to 9” from the tip of the endcap, to create a “performance profile” of the bat itself. This profile can be shown easily in graphical form, as can be seen below, and can be an easy way to identify the difference in performance between two different bats.

Bat Performance Chart

The dotted line at the top of the graph represents a given performance limit, such as .500 BBCOR, that a bat is not allowed to exceed in order to be legal in a given league. As can be expected, at Axe Bat, our goal is to expand the sweet-spot or peak performance of the bat as widely across the barrel as possible, without exceeding the limit of the given organization.

What Do the Performance Standards Mean? (.500 BBCOR, 1.15 BPF, etc.)

Each individual governing body chooses to regulate bats via their own performance metrics; however, all modern metrics are measured identically via the bat performance cannon described above, and values that are compounded by the ratio of outbound to inbound speed measured by the cannon process. Each of these individual metrics are described below.

Each bat sold in the American bat market is required to pass certification testing at a third party laboratory for its given regulatory stamp prior to production and sale of that bat design.

 .500 BBCOR

The performance standard for all high school and college baseball in America, the “Bat-Ball Coefficient of Restitution” is meant to replicate “wood-like” performance. However, modern BBCOR bats will provide larger sweet-spots, lighter swing weights, and greater durability than any wood bat is capable of providing. For a common reference, a typical single-billet pro-maple wood baseball bat would be expected to test at approximately .485 on the BBCOR scale, likely at a single pin-point location. The best modern BBCOR bats, such as the 2023 Axe Strato and 2023 Axe Avenge Pro Hybrid (launching fall 2022), will perform between .485-.500 for as much as 3” across the length of the barrel, with peak performance values between .498-.500.

USA-BAT

The performance standard governing Little League and many other youth baseball associations in America, the USA-Bat standard is very similar to the BBCOR standard, also meant to replicate wood-like performance, but allowing bats of greater durability, larger sweet-spots, and most importantly, much lighter drop-weights than any wood bat could provide.  The USA-Bat peak performance value is measured on a similar scale to that of .500 BBCOR, and uses a similar equation, however, the lower test speed of the USA-Bat test causes a slight adjustment of peak performance value allowed.

1.15 & 1.20 BPF

The performance standards governing all USSSA baseball and softball, the “Bat Performance Factor” is another method of expressing bat performance via cannon test. The 1.15 and 1.20 BPF values are in no way related to USA BAT or BBCOR, and should not be assumed as such.  Rather, the BPF is a ratio of a barrel performance value (similar to BBCOR) divided by a baseline performance metric. Axe Bat’s 2023 USSSA Avenge Pro has a performance “out of the wrapper” of 1.145 BPF, the highest value ever recorded in the Axe Bat performance laboratory.

98mph BBS

The performance standards for USA/ASA softball (both fastpitch and slowpitch), the 98mph “Batted Ball Speed” limit represents a performance governing system exactly as the phrase indicates – a value that represents the batted ball speed (or exit velocity) a bat may have in gameplay under a set of standardized conditions. While softball bats from previous decades would have a very hard time reaching performances near the 98mph limit, competitive modern composite softball bats, such as the Axe Avenge Pro Power Gap, will have peak performance between 96-98mph on the BBS scale.  While both USA/ASA fastpitch and slowpitch bats have limits of 98mph BBS, each individual test (fastpitch vs. slowpitch) is completed under slightly different parameters, with different balls and test speeds used to complete each test.

1.21 BPF

Similar to the performance standard of USSSA softball, the 1.21 Bat Performance Factor limit is that of Senior Softball (SSUSA), and as the slightly higher value would indicate, represents a higher allowable performance value, and lower barrel compression than 1.20 BPF bats.

Is One Stamp Better Than Another?

While many players or parents may have personal preference as to which leagues they participate in, and thus, which bat stamp they require on their bat, it’s important to note that a bat from one association is not inherently better than another.  With this being said, as the descriptions in the section above may indicate, you are likely to notice performance differences from bats of differing associations. A 1.15 BPF stamped bat would be expected to perform approximately 10-20% better in exit velocity (and thus, distance) than a bat of similar length and weight with a USA BAT stamp.

Additionally, bats of different stamps and associations are optimized for the conditions in which they are used. Bats utilizing technology such as Axe Bat’s Power Gap are engineered specifically for the softer, 300lb compression softball utilized in USA/ASA leagues, and thus are optimized for the 98mph BBS test, while technologies such as the Tri-Flex Blastwall are optimized for the higher compression USSSA softball, and 1.20 BPF cannon test.

 Have further questions on which bat may be allowed in your league? We suggest re-reading your league’s equipment regulations and reaching out via chat or email to an Axe Bat customer service representative!


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