We sometimes field questions from our readers about the process of a bat being certified or decertified. So, we thought we’d take a moment to explain the process for everyone.
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The qualification process
The most common certifications that a bat company will seek are a BBCOR certification or a USABat certification. These certifications ensure that the exit velocity maintains a reasonable speed.
The exit speeds are the most common reason that bats become de-certified, but we’ll explain that in more detail later.
Each bat goes through a significant level of lab testing to ensure that it is safe for play. These lab tests ensure that the bats are well-made from materials that are allowed. It also focuses on the exit velocity.
Essentially, a BBCOR or USABat endorsed bat must have similar exit velocities to what a wooden bat would have. To that point, wood is an accepted material, so most wooden bats are able to meet the certification requirements.
One key thing to keep in mind is that USABat models prior to 2018 are no longer able to be certified for the current season.
How bats get banned?
Bats are certified prior to the start of the season. As the season carries on, bats are pulled for testing to ensure that the qualifications are met throughout the year. An easy way to explain this process is to compare it to a random drug test for athletes.
The bats don’t have a set time when they’ll be tested, but they are randomly pulled and tested in an independent lab. It is most common that the lab will purchase a bat and test it out. There are times where the lab may pull a bat from a tournament directly.
When a bat fails the lab testing, it is decertified. After the bat is pulled from play, it goes through more testing. The lab will pull multiple bats for testing to ensure that it is an issue with the entire series or line, not just one specific bat.
Bats that have been banned recently
Fortunately, standards have improved and bats aren’t getting de-certified as often.
The last bat that was de-certified was the Stinger Missile 2. That happened in August of 2022. There were rumors that this bat was over-performing in the BBCOR arena. After it was pulled for further testing, this was confirmed and the bat was banned from play.
In 2020, Louisville Slugger’s Meta was banned at the high school and collegiate level. It is worth noting that the 2019 model was always legal.
Other banned bats:
- 2018 USSSA Dirty South Kamo bats
- 2018 USA Easton Ghost X (30 inch)
- 2018 BBCOR Mattingly Balistk
- 2018 BBCOR Nike CX2
- 2018 BBCOR Louisville Slugger TPX Dynasty
- 2018 Marucci CAT5
- 2018 Reebok TLS
- 2018 Marucci Black
Obviously, most of the bats that have been banned have come from lesser known companies. It was truly a shock to the baseball world when the CAT5 was banned.
The most notable story about a bat being banned was the 2017 DeMarini CF Zen. Oddly enough, it was temporarily banned because it failed the testing.
When several bats were pulled for testing, it was found that the bat met the requirements of lab testing and was, later, recertified.
Fortunately, it is becoming increasingly rare that a bat is decertified during the season. As you can see in the list above, 2018 was a bad year for bats. Since then we’ve really only seen two bats that have been banned.
The best place to check for your bat is the site for whatever league you participate in. That may be littleleague.org or pony.org. Likewise, you can check with the testers themselves at a site like usabat.com. Another great option is nsga.org which is the site for the National Sporting Goods Association.
If you’re buying your bat from a reputable company, you should be able to rely on the experience and knowledge to be able to tell you what bats are illegal.