Over the years, the MLB has established strict rules and regulations regarding the type of bats that can be used in games. This article will delve into what makes a bat illegal in MLB.
The Material of the Bat
According to MLB rules, a bat must be a single piece of solid wood. This means that players and equipment managers cannot add any non-wood material to the inside of the bat. The use of lighter-weight materials such as cork or aluminum, which could give players an advantage, is strictly prohibited.
Size and Weight Restrictions
MLB bats must adhere to specific size and weight restrictions. They cannot weigh less than 2 lbs or more than 3 lbs and must be between 32 inches and 42 inches long. The bat should also be a smooth, round stick not more than 2.61 inches in diameter at the thickest part.
Alterations and Additions
Any alterations or additions to the bat can render it illegal. For instance, bats cannot be painted, and only four different finishes are currently allowed by MLB. Any paint, decals, or markings are not permitted during a game. Furthermore, baseball bats are not allowed to have a white finish due to visibility problems it could create for the pitcher.
Consequences of Using an Illegal Bat
The consequences of using an illegal bat in MLB are severe. If an umpire discovers during play that a player is using or attempting to use an illegal bat, the player can be ejected from the game, and any game action immediately attributable to the use of that bat can be nullified. In addition to being called out, the player may face additional penalties as determined by his League President.
The Case of Pine Tar
One exception to the rule is the use of pine tar. Pine tar can be applied on a bat up to 18 inches from the bottom to help hitters with their grip. However, if the pine tar goes above 18 inches, then the umpire can stop the hitter from hitting and have him change his bat, or if he already put the ball in play, the umpire can call the hitter out.