Crowdsourcing: Blue Eyed Players

Earlier this week, Josh Hamilton created some headlines when he claimed his eye color was the cause of his struggles during day games. ESPN found an optometrist who supports his theory, so maybe it’s not as crazy as it initially sounded. I immediately wanted to look at the data to see if other blue-eyed players had similar struggles in the day time, but realized that there isn’t exactly a comprehensive database of eye color for Major Leaguers.

But, the FanGraphs audience watches a lot of baseball (when they’re not staring at spreadsheets, anyway), and you guys have some observational powers, so I’d like to try crowdsourcing this. Here’s what I’m asking from you guys – in the comments, give us evidence of players who have blue eyes. Photos are probably the best option, but an article from a reputable source that references a player’s blue eyes probably works too.

If we can get a decent sized sample of players who can be confirmed to have blue eyes, we can look and see how they did in day games compared to night games, and see whether there’s anything to Josh Hamilton’s claims after all. Once we have a decent amount of names, we’ll crunch the data and report the results.

Go crowd go.




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Dave is the Managing Editor of FanGraphs.


161 Responses to “Crowdsourcing: Blue Eyed Players”

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  1. greg says:

    How should I classify Max Scherzer?

    +10 Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Dave Cameron says:
      FanGraphs Supporting Member

      He’s a pitcher, so don’t bother.

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    • Cody says:

      I immediately thought the same thing. Have there been any regular major league hitters with two different colored eyes?

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    • joser says:

      Actually, if the problem exists it might be almost the same for blue or green eyes. The optometrist in the linked article says as much.

      “Because of the lack of pigment in lighter color eyes, like blue or green eyes as opposed to brown, you get a lot more unwanted light and that can create glare problems,” Dr. Ison said.

      So maybe we’re just looking at brown vs non-brown irises. Though — assuming there’s anything to this at all — it very well could be more complicated than that. There are multiple genes responsible for eye-color, so one blue eye is not necessarily like the next, and if we’re talking about the fine line of distinguishing the rotation of the seams on an approaching baseball, slight variations might make all the difference.

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    • Adam says:

      What he couldn’t have shaved before getting his big league picture taken?

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      • Eric Cioe says:

        Because two kinds of people don’t wear beards, women and children, and he’s neither.

        +13 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • kick me in the GO NATS says:

        Actually I have a beard for three reasons 1) my wife likes them, 2) in my profession I can have a beard, 3) most importantly I am lazy and do not like to shave everyday. The fact that woman and children do not have beards never entered my head. Trimming once or twice a week rather than daily shaving is my number one reason.

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  2. crc says:

    lenny dykstra?

    http://justinbieberworldtour.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/06/1307445328-79.jpg

    (dont ask about the url..just google image searching)

    +5 Vote -1 Vote +1

  3. Pete Zeria says:

    I have blue eyes and sunlight is brutal for me (even migraine-inducing at times), so I can relate to Josh. that said, I’m not sure why some sunglasses wouldn’t fix this–he could even try polarized if glare was an issue.

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  4. shk66 says:

    Mickey Mantle.

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    • Many variables in play if we find that Mickey Mantle struggled in day games, though…

      +24 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • Random Guy says:

        If I were a cynic, I’d say the same might be true of Josh Hamilton.

        But I’m not, so I won’t.

        +12 Vote -1 Vote +1

      • west says:

        Josh Hamilton has many people following him and doesn’t keep more than $5 in his pocket. I think he’s pretty safe. I think girls licking whip cream off of his nipples was the exception to the rule.

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      • kick me in the GO NATS says:

        Irish players are blue and green eyed. Being part Irish, I can say that they have other issues as well in regards to day games.

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    • jw says:

      Jays players will be difficult to classify, since you have the additional factor of the retractable roof. Probably safest just taking away games.

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  5. Heyward says:

    Brian McCann -http://espn.go.com/mlb/player/_/id/6309/brian-mccann : .301 Hitter during the day

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  6. Dave Cameron says:
    FanGraphs Supporting Member

    You guys are the best. 6:00 on a Friday and we’re already filling up the list…

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  7. Klatz says:

    A quick and dirty control analysis would be to take African and Asian ancestry players and see if brown eyes are affected by day/night games.

    There are the occasional blue-eyes (or rather non-brown eyed) people of African or Asian ancestry, usually due to some Caucasian relative but these are fairly rare.

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  8. World's first openly-gay SABRist says:

    Crowdsourcing: work the MSM used to pay researchers / writers for…

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  9. bill says:

    no sure anyone on the a’s has blue eyes, so there goes that theory.

    Im a former pro golfer with blue eyes the worst days are the hot ones with cloud cover, but once again sunglasses fixes all problems, some polorized ones, even seem to make it shaprer and more colorful, yet you notice you no longer squint, the strain is gone…

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  10. Phantom Stranger says:

    By far the easiest way to filter the list would be to racially profile the hitters on the team you follow. It is pretty easy to tell in HD during a game what eye color they have if you freeze-frame an at-bat. Of course it does not help when they wear sunglasses that do not let you see the eye color.

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  11. Not the best picture, but Ryan Braun has blue eyes: http://mlb.mlb.com/images/2007/03/19/kmyh7Wrb.jpg

    Also, he has complained about day games at Miller Park. That’s more to do with shadows, but still.

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  12. greg says:

    The legendary Casper Wells has blue eyes, you can see on his twitter.

    http://twitter.com/#!/UpstateBaller

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  13. elgato7664 says:

    Jason Varitek, Jed Lowrie, J.D. Drew, Stephen Drew, Ryan Roberts, Kelly Johnson, Geoff Blum

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  14. Brett Gardner says:

    As a current FanGraphs favourite I do: http://liachang.files.wordpress.com/2010/06/ltbrettgardner-97.jpg

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  15. gradygradychase says:

    Ummh….this is the next market inefficiency, lol.

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  16. Chris says:

    JD Drew

    http://media.philly.com/images/600*450/20110308_inq_lede08-a.JPG

    (Who will mess up your study; he doesn’t hit at any time of day…)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  17. Should this list also include green eyes? The ESPN article and the optometrist classified blue/green separately from brown/dark.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  18. Disco Burritos says:

    Does anyone have the skills to write a script that would take the profile pics for every player off MLB’s or ESPN’s site, and then maybe plug those into some kind of eye finder?

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  19. chumpchange says:

    Hunter Pence

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  20. Ed says:

    How is data not collected by Fangraphs!!!!!

    Get off your hands FG!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  21. Klatz says:

    ESPN’s state page has a nice profile image, where for the most part you can make out the eye color.

    Quick and dirty analysis of 11 blue-eyes versus 11 brown-black eyes, using 2008-2010 OPS. Average of the 11 players day versus night. Overall both sets of players did a little better in the daytime. The non-blue-eyed players did +0.034 OPS better in the day, while the blue-eyed players did +0.012. But the standard error of the mean was 0.026 and 0.024 meaning that the variation between players was higher than the group differences.

    i.e. with only 11 samples there was no significant difference between blue versus non-blue.

    Brown-black eyes Day = .826 Night = .792 Day-Night = .034 St. Error mean = plus/minus .026
    Ichiro Suzuki
    Kurt Suzuki
    Figgins Chone
    Grady Sizemore
    Jimmy Rollins
    Franklin Guiterrez
    Ryan Zimmerman
    Carlos Gonzalez
    Adrian Gonzalez
    Prince Fielder
    Ian Kinsler

    11 blue-eyed. Day = .850 Night = .837 Day-Night = .012 SEM = .080
    Joe Mauer
    Chase Utley
    Dan Uggla
    Brian McCann
    Justin Morneau
    Aubrey Huff
    Hunter Pence
    Steven Drew
    Billy Butler
    Jay Bruce
    Brett Gardner

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  22. Hal Jordan says:

    Bagwell

    [img]http://www.homeruncards.com/imagesrc/bagwelltp.jpg[img]

    Bagwell also had issues with his contacts, which seemed to bother him more during day games.

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  23. joser says:

    One possible skew factor here: speaking only from my own experience, I’m more likely to know (or suspect) off the top of my head the eye color of star players. That guy on the end of bench… well, he’s probably latin, but when he’s some little white dude, well, as far as I know his eye color is “gritty.” (And yeah, Eckstein seems to have blue eyes, Bloomquist seems to not, but I can’t find definitive photos)

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • TK says:

      it doesn’t really matter because the players are compared against themselves. All that matters is a good sample size, unless you are speculating that players become bigger stars by hitting well during the day or night.

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  24. Can I stop doing this now? says:

    http://www.zimbio.com/Adam+Lind

    How about there not being a good ‘batters eye’ in Arlington?

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    • Double D says:

      I agree. Does anyone else think the heat/sun in the summer day games may have an effect in a place like Texas?

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  25. Scott says:

    I would believe it. I have blue eyes but my brother has brown eyes and in bright light he picks up details better than I do. In normal light I pick it up just as well. Though I’d imagine in today’s day with eye black and high tech sungalsses the difference is smaller.

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  26. Jon says:

    Larry walker
    http://tinyurl.com/6bunfcw

    Mark Grace
    http://tinyurl.com/6c5epjg

    Wade Boggs
    http://tinyurl.com/6je5nbj

    Kevin Millar
    http://tinyurl.com/6aab5qt

    I’m pretty confident that it’s more difficult to find a white player in the mlb without blue/green eyes than with.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  27. AK says:

    Cal Ripken. Almost seems like I shouldn’t have to cite this one, since his eyes are seemingly part of his lasting memory, and are mentioned about any time his name is mentioned, but hey, pretty easy:

    http://www.zimbio.com/photos/Cal+Ripken+Jr.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

  28. pete says:

    I remember justin morneau got golden contacts so he could see in the metrodome. Said it would help him see the ball better hitting. Not sure if playing in the metrodome ever would be considered a “day game,” or if he’s used them the last two years.

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  29. Plasmaj says:

    . How would you consider Scherzer? One brown, one blue. Though I suppose since he doesn’t bat much, it doesn’t matter.

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  30. Randy says:

    A few MLB players, notably Brian Roberts, have worn red-tinted contact lenses to combat glare during day games. Someone should tell Josh Hamilton about these.

    http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/vault/article/magazine/MAG1106093/index.htm

    Hard to tell from the google, but it looks like Roberts’ eyes are a light shade of brown. Bonus finding from the google search: his wife is smoking hot.

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    • chuckb says:

      I’ve heard that the red-tinted lenses supposedly make it easier to see the red seams on the baseball so that pitch recognition is easier (or something to that effect).

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  31. Robert says:

    It might be possible to download a full database if someone can find the features list used by various video games. I think most of these games have this information.

    Just a suggestion.

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  32. aaron says:

    Matt Stairs!

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Max says:

      Shoot, I just thought of searching for the guy after I posted, and realized someone already said him. My bad.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  33. Jason B says:

    I don’t think this methodology will accomplish much of anything – people are just going from memory so of course players who played longer, got more exposure, and were generally more famous will spring to mind. The blue-eyed rabble who came up for a cup of coffee, or wiped out after 200 big-league at-bats spread over 3 seasons, likely won’t show up in the sample.

    Vote -1 Vote +1

    • Double D says:

      Yes, but those guys who played a lot and are stuck in our minds? They have more PAs to establish a trend for day/nite splits. The guy with 200 PAs in his career would have, what 50 day PAs, if he wasn’t on the Cubs and avoided domes? So I wouldn’t worry too much about it.

      Vote -1 Vote +1

  34. JoeyO says:

    Although this is an interesting theory to explore, I feel it should be mentioned that the variables here are extreme and will likely make it near impossible to determine one way or another.

    We would almost certainly need to factor things in like Smog/Air-Quality, Fog/Cloud Cover trends, Temperature averages and Seasonal Variances among other aspects. Playing a September Day-Game in San Diego is quite different then a May Day-Game in Cleveland. Shoot, a Day-Game at PETCO is often drastically different then a Day-Game 100 miles up the Cali Coast at Dodger Stadium on the very same day. And a Night Game at Angel Stadium might be 80 degrees, where it could be 20 in Detroit…

    In the very least, a Day/Night Park-Factor baseline might be needed prior to delving into the Eye-color portion. For all we know its the very sunny, dry-heat in Texas that is the real factor – and a quick check of splits for the club does indicate it may be as well, as most years there is a fair size Day/Night split on the Rangers which can’t be all Hamilton

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    • Dealer A says:

      Good points. And don’t forget that day games in enclosed stadiums is going to probably have a different effect also.

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    • Robert says:

      Those things should have an equal impact on both blue-eyed and dark-eyed players though, correct? Therefore, if a difference between the 2 samples is observed, I’m not sure why the factors you listed would diminish the validity of the findings. I might be missing your point, though.

      Also, theoretically, if we were to gather a large enough sample, noise due to those factors should be washed out.

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      • JoeyO says:

        Yeah, all eye color players will be effected to at least some extent, but that isn’t whats important – whats important is the Day/Night Park-Factor for the individual cities.

        Like say in San Diego the sunny skies, better air quality and non-drastic Day/Night temperature changes means the average player doesnt see much of any Day/Night difference regardless of eye color; that’s then a fantastic environment to test the numbers on. But in say Philly where the smog is horrific, the weather can get drastic and temperatures can swing fairly far from day to night, you have a situation where all players might be better at night or vise-versa.

        Places where it is more likely to get extremely cold at night would probably produce higher day-time numbers on average. Higher smog would likely eliminate some sun glare but also possibly give everyone higher irritation/less viability. Higher cloud and rain probabilities likely decrease the day/night variance. Wet nights in West Coast cities should decrease power numbers, but also probably increase walk rates if pitchers have a harder time with slippage.

        Much like playing in Colorado 82 times a year is a boost to a players stats over a place like Oakland, the parks will have effects. And if you’re just taking random players from random teams and combining all their numbers regardless of the advantages their individual parks provide, then you are likely inadvertently skewing the results to an unknown degree.

        Know what I mean?

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  35. tr says:

    damn, you all are crazy. have way way way too much time.

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  36. Hurling Darvish says:

    ARod and Jeter have green eyes

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  37. Hurling Darvish says:

    As a Yanks fan, I looked up Derek, ARod, Gardner, Jason Giambi, Scott Brosius, Mickey, Maris and Paul O’Neill on BRef and all are better during the day (based on tOPS+) except O’Neill. O’Neill was the only other player I’ve heard mention that he prefers hitting at night due to light conditions. Ironically his numbers are pretty much exactly the same day versus night.

    Hamilton’s day/night split is huge, whereas all mentioned above have modest splits.

    I have always thought generally that there are daytime (early risers) people and nighttime (night owls) people, and that has more to do with Josh’s splits.

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  38. Ian Kinsler says:

    I don’t have blue eyes, but I am a whiny bitch.

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  39. Westman says:

    LMAO, I thought people with brown eyes were full of shit.

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  40. Antonio Bananas says:

    Pretty ridiculous. I’m sure there’s a bit of a difference, but not enough to say or do anything. You’d have to be on drugs to think somethin…g like…eye color….o wait.

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  41. John Tesh says:

    Looking up splits might be misleading if you don’t know who was wearing sunglasses or special contacts during the day games. Bronson Arroyo, Brian Roberts, Mike Timlin and Joe Mauer are documented here: http://www.tesh.com/ittrium/visit/A1x97x1y1xa5x1x76y1x241fx1x9by1x2424x1y5x2c6ax5x1

    There’s an ad for the Nike MaxSight lens here:
    http://www.visionsalon.com/nikemaxsight.stm

    The lens have been in use since 2005, but have now been discontinued. Arroyo is still supplied with some sort of lens from Nike, I believe, but perhaps not something available to the general public.

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  42. wobatus says:

    Hamilton may be psyching himself out. 0-4 with 4 Ks in a day game yesterday against the Mets. The Golden Sombrero, even with new contacts, although perhaps they made things worse; doubt he wears them today, another day game.

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  43. jGreen says:

    Aren’t blue eyes a prerequisite for “the good face,” and isn’t “the good face” a prerequisite for playing in the big leagues?

    By taking the transitive property of the good face into account and forming a simple syllogism, we come to the conclusion that all MLB players have blue eyes, and therefore will all struggle during the day.

    This explains why the Cubs haven’t won in 100 years.

    Q.E.D.

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  44. Jason B says:

    I’ll take “Selection Bias” for 200, Alex.

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    • Los says:

      My first thought was selection bias as well but we are probably more interested in player’s of Hamilton’s level aren’t we?

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  45. charles says:

    Jason bay has blue eyes and always wears sunglassses during day games on account of that.

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  46. bballer319 says:

    Focusing on Hamilton…why wouldn’t a professional hitter who a) Has experienced these splits before and b) has most certainly been playing in day games in bright sunlight his entire life….not have taken matters to help himself by now? Maybe this was covered, but does he wear sunglasses…if not…why not (is he ignorant of his “sight problem”)? If I knew sunglasses or tinted contacts would help me, I’d make the adjustment…especially if my career was dependent upon it. sheesh

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  47. Cody says:

    Roger Hornsby had blue eyes and played a ton of day games, maybe he is an outlier, or Josh Hamilton needs to wear sunglasses during day games

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  48. Random Guy says:

    Maybe this study should also consider latitude as a variable. Is it possible that blue-eyed hitters struggle in Arlington or Miami but not in Seattle or Toronto?

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  49. Wow, fantastic blog structure! How lengthy have you ever been blogging for? you make blogging glance easy. The entire glance of your web site is fantastic, let alone the content!

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  50. My father had one blue and one green, ambidextrous, husband, myself and two children two brown eyes and all ambidextrous and switch-hitters. Those of us who need sunglasses seem to have a link to a gene for rod fatigue. Could be linked to other genes as well… If he wasn’t wearing dark glasses, he could and should. Perhaps also have vision checked. Could increase response time! Will be posting some really useful information to website shortly about migraine. Lots of recent research that is useful.

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  51. gonfalon says:

    among former Pirates, Andy Van Slyke, Don Slaught, and Jason Bay have blue eyes:

    http://www.mainlineautographs.com/images/product_pics/bbcards50002_20090404186.gif
    (very large image)

    http://www.sportsbuy.com/images/oldscans/3765167.jpg

    http://www.zimbio.com/pictures/7y59mQZfXBR/New+York+Mets+Photo+Day/ojyxC5OE2Nt/Jason+Bay

    a quick check of their career splits reveals that all three hit at least slightly better in day games

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