Background & Problem
Historically, AVLL has had as part of its operating procedures, a Majors 46/60 division which includes 11 & 12 year old players. 10 year old players were allowed to be drafted into this division if drafted in the top four rounds. See Current League Format section below for further details. AVLL has played in this Majors division and across the District in the TOC and competed successfully with our All-Star teams in District 55 as well. In some cases, our success in the Little League / Majors division as allowed us to play sectionals and even regionally.
The questions that’s been brought to us is whether or not to continue with our 46/60 Majors division or to transition into a 50/70 Intermediate division. The challenge is that as of our last District 55 President’s meeting, eight of the nine leagues have decided to go forward with the 50/70 Division. Six of the leagues transition this last year for 2013/14 season, leaving Aliso Viejo, Laguna Beach, and Laguna Niguel as the only leagues to stick with 46/60. Laguna Beach and Laguna Niguel have confirmed that they will transition to 50/70 for the 2014/15 Spring Season. All leagues are expected to put Fall Ball programs in place that support the move to 50/70 divisions.
This change in District 55 will leave us with no District 55 tournament of champions at the Majors level and no leagues to compete with for our “All-Stars” in the Majors 46/60 division. This lack of competition will put our All-Stars directly into sectional tournaments beyond district 55.
If we choose to migrate to an Intermediate 50/70 division, we may continue to play in the District 55 TOC, but any All-Stars formed in this division would be up against true intermediate division teams mostly made up of 13 year olds and it is unclear how far developed this program is in the region given how recently it was developed.
The major arguments regarding the two divisions and the pros and cons between each can be summed up into two general categories.
- Player Development & Safety – Many proponents of the 50/70 division argue that the player development and progression of skill and strength that can be had by moving to this level of play is critical.
- “Real Baseball Rules” – The addition of longer base paths allow for the inclusion of steals, pick offs, and even balks further preparing the kids for play beyond little league and into high school.
- Greater distances from the plate to infield players reduce the speed of the game and improve the safety of the players and their ability properly field a ball and further add to the safety of the pitcher from line drives.
- Progression of distances provides greater opportunity for players to improve their arm strength over time by transitioning over to the 60/90 foot MLB sized distances over a number of years. For example, 10 Year olds (46/60), 11/12 year olds (50/70), 13 Year olds (54/80), and 14 year olds (60/90).
- Competitive Requirements – Due to the inclusion of “Real Baseball Rules” in other baseball programs such as “Pony” and Cal Ripken starting at younger ages, many advocates believe that the lack of such options turn some kids / parents towards these alternatives and away from little league.
Questions for Discussion
- Why would we change? Do we believe in the Player Development & Safety aspect, or do we need to consider the Competitive Market place and demand from our customers.
- What alternatives do we have? Does it have to be one or the other? I have heard of formats with alternating 50/70 & 46/60 teams / games which is now allowed by Little League International. i.e. Minimum play for All-Stars is 12 games. Can we move forward with a proposed split format playing a total of 12 regulation games for each division?
Definitions & Terms
- Western Region - The District Administrators report to the Regional Director, of which there are five in the United States. As part of the staff of Little League Baseball, Incorporated, the Regional Directors work out of Regional Centers at Warner Robins, Georgia; San Bernardino, California; Indianapolis, Indiana, Bristol, Connecticut, and Waco, Texas. Representatives for the International regions of Little League maintain offices in Puerto Rico, Canada, Japan and Poland. As part of the Western Region, Southern California alone contains 40 districts.
- District 55 - For administrative and tournament purposes, roughly 10 to 20 leagues in a given area usually comprise a district. The District Administrator is an experienced volunteer elected by the constituent leagues to counsel, direct, and provide leadership in the policies and rules of the Little League program and to serve as liaison between the leagues and the Regional Director. The District Administrator organizes the district tournament and attends the periodic International Congress where Little League rules and regulations are democratically reviewed and revised for the betterment of the program. There are more than 600 District Administrators worldwide, each with a staff of assistants to help more effectively serve their leagues. District 55 is comprised of 9 leagues in Orange County; Aliso Viejo, Irvine Ranch, Laguna Beach, Laguna Hills, Laguna Niguel, Newport Beach, Northwood, Rancho Niguel, and Saddleback Little Leagues.
- Aliso Viejo Little League - Each Little League program is organized within a community. As part of a league’s annual charter it establishes its own boundaries with certain restrictions. It is only from within this territory that the league may register its players. There are now more than 6,500 Little League programs in nearly 90 countries around the world. Each local league in the Little League program establishes its own boundaries with guidance from its volunteer District Administrator who oversee the area, and the region headquarters.
- Majors 46 / 60 - The Little League Baseball Division (sometimes known as the Major Division) is for boys and girls ages 9–12. A local league may choose to limit its Major Division to 10-, 11-, and 12-year-olds, or 11-12-year-olds. The diamond used is a 60-foot diamond and the pitching distance is 46 feet. The local league has an option to choose a Tournament Team (or "All Stars") of 11-12-year-olds from within this division, and the team may enter the International Tournament. The culmination of the International Tournament is the Little League Baseball World Series, featuring teams from around the globe. All expenses for the teams advancing to the World Series (travel, meals, and housing) are paid by Little League Baseball." A standard Little League field has base paths of 60 feet, and a pitching distance of 46 feet (measured from the back point of home plate to the front edge of the pitcher’s plate).
- Intermediate 50 / 70 - In 2012, Little League announced plans to add a new division of play for the 2013 season, the Little League Intermediate Division. This Division is played on a field with a 50-foot (15 m) pitching distance and 70-foot (21 m) base paths. It is open to players ages 11–13, but may be limited to ages 11–12 or 12–13 by a local league. Players in this division will be able to lead off and steal. Rules will follow rules similar to those of the Junior, Senior, and Big League Divisions of play. Little League holds a World Series in this level of play, officially called the Intermediate Little League World Series, in Livermore, California.
- Tournament of Champions (TOC) - The tournament of champions is typically played as a single elimination tournament between the top teams in each competitive division from leagues within the district. District 55 often allowed leagues the ability to send their two top teams from each competitive division beginning in AAA.
- All Stars – Different from TOC, in that each league will take their top players in each age division and form a special “All-Star” team of the top 13 ranked kids from within their league and divisions. These teams will then play against other “All-Star” teams from other leagues in the District, and then if successful, move on to Sectional, Regional, and hopefully for the Majors 46/60 division, the Little League Baseball World Series.
Proposed League Format
- Intermediate / Majors Divisions Format - A single draft will be conducted for a combined season of teams for 11 and 12 year olds. This group of teams will play at least their first 12 games in accordance with Majors Division rules. They will play the remainder of their games (at least 12) in accordance with the Intermediate Division rules. This can be accomplished by adding one additional game to the previous seasons format.
- At the leagues option it may choose to draft a 13 year old only Intermediate Division depending on the direction of district. If district will provide interleague play with this age group at the Intermediate level.
Recommended Intermediate Division FAQs
In September the Board of Directors voted to adopt the Intermediate Division (50/70) in addition to the Majors Division (46/60). The Intermediate Division is played on a larger diamond (50/70) with rules that are closer to conventional baseball, most notably lead offs, and steals. AVLL will be offering Intermediate play this Fall Ball season in preparation for the Spring 2015 Season.
Q. Why did AVLL decide to add the Intermediate Division?
A. Last year, several leagues within District 55 had adopted Intermediate play over time. Now, all leagues within District 55 have adopted Intermediate play. Also, AVLL had received feedback from players and coaches that wanted to play full baseball rules on a larger diamond. We also incorporated several advanced baseball rules with some success but realized it would be more appropriate on a larger diamond (e.g., dropped third strike, etc). The Board of Directors felt implementing a full 50/70 program would align our league with the other leagues in District 55, be age appropriate, and assist with the transition of our players to a full-sized 60/90 diamond.
Q. What is the Intermediate Baseball (50-70) Division?
A. The Intermediate Baseball division is Little League’s newest baseball division for league age 11-12 year olds played on a larger diamond. The Aliso Viejo Little League Board of Directors officially adopted the division in Summer of 2014 for play beginning in Fall 2014.
Q. What are the Intermediate Baseball Division’s goals?
A. The Intermediate Baseball Division bridges the transition from Little League (46/60) to Junior League Baseball on a full-size diamond (60/90). It is a division for 11-13 year-olds whose advanced skills permit rules that are closer to conventional baseball, such as leading off bases, pickoff attempts, etc.
Q. What does 50/70 mean?
A. 50/70 stands for the dimensions of the new playing diamond. A traditional Little League diamond maintains a 46 ft pitching distance from the pitching rubber to home plate and 60 ft base paths also known as a 46/60 diamond. With 50/70, the Intermediate Baseball diamond maintains a 50 ft pitching distance from the pitching rubber to home plate and 70 ft base paths.
Q. Where will the Intermediate (50/70) Baseball games be played?
A. Our 50/70 division will play home games on the newly converted Woodfield #3 & #6 fields
Q. My league age 11-12 year old is interested in playing in the Majors (46/60) Division. What should I do?
A. At this time we are forming teams that will play in both divisions. Allowing a transition for players and providing them with the ability to play half of the full season in the majors division and the second half of the season in the intermediate division. Teams will not be redrafted, but will simply change the rules of play to accommodate the differences in these two divisions.
Q. What will the mound height be?
A. The height of the mound shall be 8 inches as outlined in Rule 1.07. The pitcher’s plate shall be rectangular slab of rubber measuring 24 inches by 6 inches.
Q. What are the pitching and catching restrictions for the Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division?
A. Players will follow pitching restrictions as defined by age as outlined in Regulation VI, whether or not the player participates in two divisions, i.e., the pitcher’s record “follows” the pitcher from one division to the next. Additionally, players must adhere to the catching restrictions also outlined in Regulation VI.
Q. What is the roster size for the Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division?
A. According to Regulation III, rosters may have no less than 12 players and no more than 15 players.
Q. What is a regulation game in this division?
A. The Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division game consists of 7 innings although as a local league we are electing to play six innings for this division. The game is regulation after 5 innings or 4 ½ if the home team is ahead.
Intermediate (50-70) Division and Junior League
It shall not be more than 34 inches in length; nor more than 2 5/8 inches in diameter, and if wood, not less than fifteen-sixteenths (15/16) inches in diameter (7/8 inch for bats less than 30”) at its smallest part. All composite barrel bats shall meet the Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR) performance standard, and such bats shall be so labeled with a silkscreen or other permanent certification mark. The certification mark shall be rectangular, a minimum of a half-inch on each side and located on the barrel of the bat in any contrasting color.
Q. What if my bat has a composite handle, and a metal/alloy barrel?
A. If the bat is labeled as having a composite handle and a metal/alloy barrel (and not a composite barrel), provided it meets all the other specifications and standards for the division, it is acceptable. The transition from the handle to the barrel can be composite.
Q. Can a bat with a 2 1/4 inch barrel be used in Junior League Baseball and Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Division?
A. Yes, but not all 2 1/4 inch bats can be used. If a bat’s barrel has no composite materials in it, it may be used in the Junior League Baseball and the Intermediate (50/70) Baseball Divisions, provided it is labeled with a BPF (bat performance factor) of 1.15 or less, and meets the standards for length, handle diameter, etc. (NOTE: Solid wooden barrel bats do not require a BPF label) But if the bat has composite materials in the barrel, a 2 1/4-inch barrel MAY NOT be used; only a 2 5/8-inch BBCOR bat may be used.
For more information on bat specifications Click here »
Most Little League players use 2 1/4 inch barrel bats. Little League International publishes a list of "approved" 2 1/4 inch barrel bats by manufacturer name. For the Intermediate Division you should be selecting bats where the "Barrel Material" column indicates Metal. *Handles may be either Composite or Metal. However, ongoing disputes about this interpretation make purchasing a 2 1/4 bat with any Composite Material in them at all a risk. The model number can be use to search websites for availability.
The following is a list of bats with a 2 1/4 inch maximum diameter that are