#Hot Corner

Will new, harder bats bring unforeseen consequences?

The AP dutifully reprints a press release reports on the latest offering from Louisville Slugger:

The new bats — made of ash or maple — are designed to be harder than previous models. Bobby Hillerich, director of Wood Bat Manufacturing for Louisville Slugger, said new selection processes for the wood, as well as drying and processing methods, have created a bat hard enough to reach a grade of 9h — the highest rating possible by the American Society for Testing and Materials.

[...]

Buyers search for the hardest wood available — known as veneer wood — which is vacuum dried to pull moisture out of the wood and push the material closer together, Bobby Hillerich said. Once that is done, the wood is cut into billets used to create the bats. The billets are shaped and compressed before being finished with a water-based coating.

Is anyone else worried that further hardening the bats might harm the game in unforeseen ways? Is any research being conducted to determine how harder bats might affect the balance between offense and defense? Or are Major League Baseball's efforts focused entirely on exacting revenge upon Ryan Braun?

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