Lower Seams, Rising Home Run Totals In College Baseball
The new, flat-seamed baseball being used in college this spring appears to be having the desired effect. Namely, more home runs.
Updated statistics released by the NCAA this week revealed a 39 percent, year-over-year increase in home runs per game in Division I. Through the midway point of the season, teams are averaging 0.50 home runs per game, up from 0.36 per game last year.
Other offensive categories have not been similarly impacted. Runs are only up about 5 percent, while team batting averages show virtually no change.
The switch to the flat-seamed baseball was made to boost sagging offensive production. Tests revealed that flat-seamed baseballs with a seam height of .031 inches traveled approximately 20 feet farther than raised-seam baseballs with a seam height of .048 inches when launched at the same speed, angle and spin rate.
Division I programs swinging the Axe Bat the past two seasons have seen a rise that mirrors the national trend. Using the same date ranges from the NCAA report, Axe Bat teams have cumulatively hit three more home runs in six fewer games this year.
We asked Rusty Trudeau, who manages national baseball accounts at Baden Sports, what he’s heard from coaches and industry contacts this spring. So far, he said, he’s heard mostly positive feedback and that the change has been good for the game.
We’ll see if the trends hold. But for now, at least, we’ll call the flat-seamed ball a lead-off double in the right direction.