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The great irony of making a field and bat standard that allows fewer home runs is that it overvalues the kids who can hit home runs. Instead of creating value in a small ball, it gives the teams who can beat it out of the park more value than they should. For example, Japan, Curacao, and South Korea hit more than 50% of the home runs in this year’s series. Those were the top 3 teams in the international division. Louisiana, Virginia, and Hawaii hit home runs on the US; they were the top 3 in that division. For 2019, two Grand Slams fundamentally changed the nature of the finals. Only Venezuela hit one home run and didn’t make the top 6. Everyone else, a total of 9 other teams, hit a big zero.
The dearth of home runs in the LLWS is an easy horse to beat. It’s evident to anyone who watches this stuff that the USA bat standard came too far back, much as BBCOR did in College. Outfielders in the LLWS this year often had their heels at a generous 150. But, unlike NCAA, they can’t regulate a baseball change to help them fly further and keep the “integrity” of the game. So, are we just stuck now? Raise your hand if you think USA baseball is up for changing the bat standard to something between where they were and where they are now.
And the age change didn’t help deep balls either.
In 2006 Williamsport had the fences in at 205 and moved them out because of too many home runs and a game that didn’t allow for extra-base hits (that weren’t home runs). Now, the bat standard made dingers in the big dance a fantasy for 96% of players who make it to Williamsport. If we move the fences back in, we take away extra-base hits, and if we keep it out, we remove one of the best parts of the game for Little Leaguers. Isn’t there a happy medium around 210? It’s worth a shot.
In any event, we watched every at-bat and tracked many things. Here’s some of that data in graph form. You can find more of that information as we put it here in the entries below.
Updated 8/27/2019 – 3:05 pm MST: Armed with all the data, we made a couple of charts showing the Home Run data we captured during the 2019 Little League World Series. It looks something like this:
Well, what can we say? Through 32 games, fifteen home runs were hit. That’s down from 18 hits last year and 60 in 2017. Here are some other exciting things to think about:
Look, it’s too easy to win this point. Little League needs to change the bat to something between what it is now and what it was then (ugh, on another bat change), or they need to move the fences in at Williamsport. 200 is where they are in Cooperstown, and 200 is where they should be in Williamsport (and they should be 215 in Cooperstown, but that’s another day).
During the 2019 LLWS, we tracked home runs by game. Here’s our chart.