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Will Middlebrooks hopes new contact lenses are the key to success in 2014

Mar 30, 2014, 11:15 PM EDT

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Will Middlebrooks was a consensus top-100 prospect going into the 2012 season and he did not disappoint, blasting 15 home runs with an .835 OPS in 286 plate appearances in the big leagues. He wasn’t nearly as good last season, slashing .227/.271/.425. As it turns out, Middlebrooks’ deteriorating vision might have been at least partially to blame for the lack of offensive output.

As Brian MacPherson writes for the Providence Journal, the Red Sox found this spring that Middlebrooks was seeing 20-25 in his right eye and 20-30 in his left. It’s nothing serious, but having his vision corrected with contact lenses allowed him to once again see the spin on the ball.

“For everyday life, you’d never correct it,” he said. “But for what I do, you need to be able to see the little things. Once I put them in, I could really see the spin on the ball. I was always just reading trajectory of the ball. I was never seeing the spin.”

Middlebrooks was careful not to use his vision as a crutch, explaining why he wasn’t so good last season. The 25-year-old third baseman said, “I wasn’t consistent with my approach and my way of thinking at the plate. That has nothing to do with my vision. That’s just decision-making. But it’s easier when you can see things.”

With Stephen Drew gone, prospect Xander Bogaerts takes over everyday at shortstop, leaving Middlebrooks with plenty of playing time at third base. The Red Sox hope that the opportunity along with the enhanced vision translates to a big season for Middlebrooks.

  1. pgilbert15303 - Mar 30, 2014 at 11:27 PM

    Can drea now file for unemployment?

  2. tfbuckfutter - Mar 30, 2014 at 11:43 PM

    Cute narrative.

    But he had a wrist injury that affected him early on last season and then opsed .800+ after returning from the minors.

    This makes more sense.

    • chunkala - Mar 31, 2014 at 9:48 AM

      I buy the vision issue a little but not the wrist injury. Every player is a little bit injured and if you cant perform while being slightly injured your career prospects are limited.
      I think its more due to the sophomore slump. It seems that, since 2000 or so, rookie batters have a big advantage over pitchers but their 2nd season is usually a dropoff (excluding true stars like Trout). So basically the 3rd season will help determine his career trajectory.

      • grumpyoleman - Mar 31, 2014 at 10:13 AM

        Wrist injuries are tough to recover from and play through.

  3. dillongeeescapeplan - Mar 30, 2014 at 11:46 PM

    Hopefully it will result in more improvement in his plate discipline. His BB/K did improve considerably in the 2nd half (granted it wasn’t a very big sample size).

  4. apkyletexas - Mar 31, 2014 at 12:18 AM

    According to Bob Costas, steroids are supposed to be good for the eyes. He thinks that’s why Bonds walked so much.

    Maybe Middlebrooks just needs to use PEDs.

    • renaado - Mar 31, 2014 at 5:15 AM

      I thought steroids use was to “Slow Things” down, not good for the eyes.

    • paperlions - Mar 31, 2014 at 8:56 AM

      Yep, I’ve heard that same non-sense repeated over and over about Bonds. Do people not realize that the side-effects of responsible steroid use are negligible compared to most medications and when appropriate they are prescribed to treat a wide variety of ailments? Because, you know, if steroids or HGH could actually improve vision or reverse vision loss or speed healing, they would be approved for such medical treatments. They aren’t approved for such things because they don’t actually do those things….it isn’t like there is some wonder drug out there that pharmaceutical companies are refusing to share with the public.

      • Reflex - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:24 PM

        I pointed this out in another thread, but Barry Bond’s contact rate was identical in his last five seasons as in his first five seasons. If steroids improved his vision I would expect that rate to have gone up over time, especially compared to his first five seasons when he is far less experienced.

      • paperlions - Mar 31, 2014 at 3:50 PM

        yeah, well, can’t expect people to change their narratives or opinions just because the facts say they are not true. That just means you have to say things louder and more often.

  5. @thekid9ball - Mar 31, 2014 at 4:42 AM

    Reblogged this on The Fantasy Forensic and commented:
    Good feeling about William…I do

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