My uncle stumbled across this article yesterday on Baseball Prospectus, and I was surprised (and entertained) when he sent it to me. The article, written by Sam Miller at BP, hypothesizes that newly signed Tribe corner infielder Mark Reynolds has a significant (diagnosed or not) vision impairment.
“As a pop-up lands at the edge of the infield dirt, he walks directly away from it, with his head down, toward the dugout. Then, as if dazed, he turns and walks back to where his teammates are. It is undoubtedly a challenge to pass as a person with sight, a challenge that requires nearly constant focus and attention to the other senses. In this small moment, Reynolds likely becomes disoriented by the fans screaming increasingly loudly at the fielders attempting to catch the pop-up, and his focus lapses. Struggling to locate his position in the cacophony, he loses his direction. Once the catch is made, the crowd quiets and he again hears his teammates’ chatter, and he turns to join them.
Do the people around Reynolds know about his handicap? The motion by the umpire, Adrian Johnson, suggests that any conspiracy that might exist doesn’t extend to the umpires. “Over there,” he tells Reynolds, with a point. If he knew that Reynolds can’t see, Johnson probably wouldn’t have pointed.
Unless that’s just part of the deception.
Unless Adrian Johnson is in on it by appearing to be not in on it. “
The article goes on to show .gif evidence of hit by pitches, horrific strikeouts, busted fly balls, and running into non-moving objects in the field of play (like umpires and walls) that suggest there could be something to this. Remember when Jhonny Peralta vastly improved after he admitted he was having trouble seeing the ball and had laser eye surgery? Anthony Castrovince back in 2007 at Indians.com has the details.
“I could feel it for myself,” Peralta said Tuesday. “I didn’t see the ball very good and, when I was playing shortstop, I couldn’t see the signs at home plate. I knew I had a problem with my eyes.”
Peralta was right. He had been diagnosed with myopia (near-sightedness) earlier in the year, but he opted not to wear the contacts given to him, because he didn’t like the way they felt in his eyes.
For the last two weeks of the season, however, he began wearing the lenses, and his performance at that tail end of a difficult year drew praise from manager Eric Wedge.
It’s too soon to tell whether Peralta’s improvement was a direct result of the vision correction or just the lessons of a long ’06 season finally sinking in. But Peralta, taking no chances, had LASIK surgery performed on his eyes in December to have them permanently corrected.”
The writer is certainly writing tongue-in-cheek here, but this is certainly troubling evidence of his defense that we’ll have to monitor all season as Reynolds mans first base and hits near the middle of the Tribe lineup.
Related: How Improved Are The 2013 Indians?