Schifman: How does eye color affect day/night splits?

From Gerald Schifman at The Hardball Times on April 29, 2015:

Kris Bryant hasn’t disappointed in his first taste of the big leagues. Entering Tuesday, he had posted nearly 50 plate appearances and posted a 170 wRC+ to continue his domination of professional pitching. With the Cubs boasting a playoff probability greater than 50% and Bryant batting cleanup, the team is seemingly primed to break a streak of five straight losing seasons. Despite this, I have been skeptical of whether Bryant is all that good of a fit for the Cubs, given all the day games they play.

The Cubs led the majors in day games from 2006–2013, and were No. 2 in 2014. Certain obstacles come with the terrain of day games, such as the difficulty of playing one following a night game that ended about 15 hours earlier. Another less obvious challenge is that light-eyed players are said to struggle with sensitivity to bright sunlight. As sports optometrist Dr. Donald Teig explained to the New York Times in 2011, light-eyed people lack pigment in their macula, a pinhead-sized spot on the retina. The relationship of macular pigment (MP) density with one’s ability to withstand glare is strong and positive, so people with a less-dense MP are more overwhelmed by bright light and glare.

In turn, their contrast sensitivity (the ability to appreciate subtle differences in the foreground and background) is reduced. Sensitivity to contrast is vital in processing the spin of a pitched baseball’s red seams as it hurtles forth. Exacerbating the matter, light-eyed people are slower than dark-eyed people to recover from this “dazzled” state. For a batter, these two issues would compound the difficulty of taking 0.2 seconds to decide whether to swing, and then 0.2 seconds to actually swing.

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Originally published: April 29, 2015. Last Updated: April 29, 2015.