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vaticanplum
06-26-2006, 10:49 AM
I would like to hear some facts on the effect that a baseball player's eyesight has on his batting ability. It's one of those areas of baseball where I am not too familiar with the details. Sometimes I hear it mentioned in relation to historically great hitters ("he had quick wrists, an excellent feel for the strike zone, and perfect vision", whatever), and I've also heard poor eyesight as a cause of a batter not being able to fulfill his potential. It's also an issue that is often reference in the steroid debate. But I've never really heard this explored in much depth, and I'm curious.

To be clear: I'm not referring to a "good eye", but the actual quality of eyesight.

This is something that seems so obvious -- good eyesight is obviously going to help anyone have a better chance of making contact with a ball flying toward him at 90 miles an hour. But perfect vision seems like such a rare thing among adults, and contact lenses obviously put everyone at a more equal playing field than was possible several decades ago. So how much difference does it really make these days? Is it something that's tracked in baseball players, particularly at the minor league level? Are there examples out there of players whose good eyesight has made a significant difference in their hitting ability, or of players whose poor eyesight significantly hampered them?

Just curious.

RFS62
06-26-2006, 11:00 AM
It's tremendously important, and it's checked a lot.

gonelong
06-26-2006, 11:01 AM
In an article I read about Jason Giambi he claimed he could tell if a pitch was going to be a ball or strike simply from the pitchers release point.

Ted Williams had 20/10 eye sight ...
If a cloud suddenly blocked out the sun as the pitcher was ready to wind up, Williams used to call for time, step out of the box. He knew the pupil in his eye couldn't possibly dilate quickly enough to compensate for less sunlight, so he simply stalled or waited for the cloud to pass.

I would think that depth perception would be equally important, if not moreso.
GL

RFS62
06-26-2006, 11:03 AM
Williams also set new records in the military tests for eyesight and depth perception when he became a pilot.

dabvu2498
06-26-2006, 11:03 AM
Random thoughts on this subject:

"Shoeless" Joe Jackson would so exercises staring into a candle to improve his visual acuity. Pretty sure those don't work, but what the heck.

As a high school player, I was advised to "lose the glasses" or the level of interest in me as a potential college player would decrease. (I was a pitcher.) I took that advise, got contacts and my eye doctor even overcorrected my vision a bit. My BA (I played OF as well) went from .310 something to .430 something quickly.

Lasik surgery? The new steroids???

I was around several college players whose eyesight decreased during their early college years and because they were away from home, not around their parents, etc., didn't bother with eye exams. They found out that they needed vision correction through baseball. (One in particular that I can remember was a catcher. He went from .220 with 5 passed balls in the first 3 weeks of the season to all conference and drafted.)

flyer85
06-26-2006, 11:22 AM
Supposedly Ted Williams eyes were so good he could see the ball/bat point of impact. It is probably the most overlooked part of being a good hitter. The better the eyesight will allow a hitter to see the rotation on a pitch more quickly. Better eyesight is certainly an advantage.

westofyou
06-26-2006, 11:22 AM
I was privy to a conversation by a guy who talked steroids with a few players he knows, the players told him that one of the boosts steroids gave you involved a marked appearance in eyesite.

Take it for what it is (barroom talk) but I did get it at a SABR meeting and Neyer was there in the middle of it.

vaticanplum
06-26-2006, 11:30 AM
I was privy to a conversation by a guy who talked steroids with a few players he knows, the players told him that one of the boosts steroids gave you involved a marked appearance in eyesite.

Take it for what it is (barroom talk) but I did get it at a SABR meeting and Neyer was there in the middle of it.

Yeah, it's also mentioned in Game of Shadows, which may be what got me thinking about it.

Regarding checking it, how often does this happen at the major league level? Is it something they keep an eye on just to correct if necessary, or is it viewed as a detriment to a player at the minor league level? (ie. is it something that could be viewed as a reason not to advance a prospect, or how often is it really a problem, or is it something scouts look at.)

Thanks for all the info guys.

dabvu2498
06-26-2006, 11:34 AM
I was privy to a conversation by a guy who talked steroids with a few players he knows, the players told him that one of the boosts steroids gave you involved a marked appearance in eyesite.

Take it for what it is (barroom talk) but I did get it at a SABR meeting and Neyer was there in the middle of it.
Steroids are commonly given as recovery aids after eye surgeries (glaucoma, cataracts, etc.).

RFS62
06-26-2006, 11:38 AM
I've heard the same thing about steroids and eyesight.

Razor Shines
06-26-2006, 11:57 AM
Supposedly Ted Williams eyes were so good he could see the ball/bat point of impact. It is probably the most overlooked part of being a good hitter. The better the eyesight will allow a hitter to see the rotation on a pitch more quickly. Better eyesight is certainly an advantage.

Yeah, I read a story once that said Ted Williams told a reporter that he could do this but the reporter didn't beleive him. So they went out on the field, got a bat with colored chalk on it and a guy pitched him baseballs and he would hit them and then tell them were the chalk would be on the baseball and if I remember correcty he got something like 14 out of 15 right.

RFS62
06-26-2006, 12:11 PM
I have a hard time believing that ANYONE can actually see the moment of contact. I've heard eye doctors say that it's just not possible.

I believe the best anyone can do is track the ball until the last few feet.

terminator
06-26-2006, 12:38 PM
I once read that Roger Hornsby wouldn't go to the movies or read newspapers because he was afraid they would ruin his eyesight.

Maybe that was what killed my professional baseball career? Too much reading!

boognish
06-26-2006, 07:20 PM
Bringing Lasik up again, do you guys remember when Larson was going to have a resurgence (or in his case, surgence, I guess...) from having the surgery after the 2004 (IIRC) season?

NastyBoy
06-26-2006, 11:44 PM
Bringing Lasik up again, do you guys remember when Larson was going to have a resurgence (or in his case, surgence, I guess...) from having the surgery after the 2004 (IIRC) season?

He could see the Major League curveball, he just could not hit it... :laugh:

I know when I was playing baseball as a youth I had astigmatism in my right eye and it really affected my depth perception. When it was finally got glasses, it was like night and day picking up a ball out of the pitchers hand.

A few years ago, I got the Lasik which corrected the astigmatism and gave me 20/15 vision. A little too late for my baseball career. :angry: If anyone is thinking about having it done, I would highly recommend it. The best way I can describe as is High Definition Life.