Baseball players who use their eyes evenly seem to excel at both hitting and pitching, but those who rely on the eye opposite the hand they favor appear to be much better batters, researchers reported Wednesday.
Drs. Paul Romano and Jose Portal of the University of Florida College of Medicine in Gainesville compared the vision of 23 players on the school's varsity baseball team to 100 non-players and examined the relationship of the players' eye-hand patterns to their performance."Just as humans prefer to use one hand over the other, they also prefer to use one eye for sighting tasks," the researchers wrote in describing their findings in a letter published in The New England Journal of Medicine.
The baseball players were about twice as likely as the non-players to have "crossed eye-hand dominance." Crossed eye-hand dominance means if people are left-handed they tend to favor the right eye and if they are right-handed they tend to rely on the left eye.
In addition, about 50 percent more players than non-players had "central ocular dominance," which means they tend to rely on both eyes evenly.
Among the ballplayers, central ocular dominance was associated with better hitting and pitching. The players with this attribute had a batting average of 0.340 and an pitching earned-run average of 4.06.
"The player with central ocular dominance appears to have an advantage," the researchers wrote.
Crossed dominance appeared to benefit hitters but handicap pitchers, the researchers said. These players had a batting average of 0.310, but an ERA of 20.78.
"We think crossed dominance may aid the batter," the researchers said.