The plan is to introduce the head-ware during spring training. The new design sort of looks like they took a helmet and chopped it in half, focusing on the most likely areas for a pitcher to get hit. It’s pretty light weight too, weighing in at 10 – 12 ounces. The hope is this will take on a little easier since it looks a lot nicer than that strange isoBLOX thing that Alex Torres rocked last season.
Five MLB pitchers were struck in the head by line drives last year, four of them in the face. The new headgear doesn’t provide facial protection, as the stated objective was preventing life-threatening injuries considered most likely to occur as Brandon McCarthy‘s Sept. 5, 2012, episode did when he was hit on the side of the head.
The latest designs are touted to be the safest option proposed to date.
The new hats — which Boombang says have a copolymer impact absorption layer and a foam liner — “easily passed” laboratory impact testing at 85 mph and are “almost certainly” protective at higher speeds, according to Houlihan, who pointed out that liners lose several miles per hour of velocity by the time they reach the mound. Even the thicker Rawlings MLB batting helmets, which weigh 1.2 pounds, are not touted as protective at speeds above 100 mph.
Pitchers have always been incredibly vulnerable to balls hit back up the middle, and short of massively redesigning the game or putting up some sort of screen or changing the actual baseballs to be safer, the only widely accepted solution may be to start putting pitchers in body armor.
“I look back at me being hit, and I don’t think I could’ve been in better position,” Jennings said. “There is no ‘ready’ for balls coming back at 100-plus mph, no stopping that.
“I didn’t even see the ball.”