The Connection Between On-Base Percentage and Visual Skills

September 16, 2019

Over the past decade, Vizual Edge has recorded over 12,000 evaluations from MLB draft prospects. Currently, there are 118 players on MLB rosters who had taken a visual skills evaluation with Vizual Edge. We found that of those 118 players, 81 of them had over 300 career plate appearances.

Does Having Better Visual Skills Really Mean A Higher On-Base Percentage?

Of the 81 players who qualified for our on-base percentage analysis, we found that players who ranked in the top 50 or better for OBP at the MLB (.360 or better) level were able to:

  • Focus on objects in close proximity such as incoming pitches (convergence)
  • Recognize pitches earlier by clearly seeing spin, shape, and trajectory (divergence)
  • Recognize a pitch pattern and cognitively respond faster (recognition)
  • Respond faster to visual stimuli (tracking)

better than their peers.

It only makes sense that players who reach base more frequently have better visual skills than their peers, as they are able to see the ball better and respond more effective at the plate.

In addition to On-Base Percentage, we also found players with better visual skills also perform better in these areas:

  • BB/K ratio
  • Home Run Rate
  • Swings At Pitches Outside The Zone
  • Swings At Pitches Inside The Zone
  • Batting Average On Balls In-Play
  • Line Drive Percentage
  • Hard Hit Ball Percentage

Click Here to read the full statistical analysis.

How Convergence Impacts On-Base Percentage

Convergence is the ability to focus on objects within close proximity and judge their movement and impact. Convergence may impact a player in the following ways:

  • Consistent contact quality
  • Ability to focus on incoming pitch
  • Judge speed, trajectory, and spin of the ball

When we look at our database of over 12,000+ MLB draft prospect evaluations we find hitters who can converge their eyes better than their peers have a higher on-base percentage.

Being able to properly converge your eyes on a baseball in the last 15-20 feet allows the hitter to be more precise with the delivery of their baseball bat to the ball and be able to make late adjustments with their barrel.

In short, if a hitter can converge their eyes at an elite level then they have a better chance of making precise, square contact with the barrel of their bat. Hitters with elite level convergence also tend to have better plate discipline skills as they see the ball more accurately as it approaches the plate.

How Divergence Impacts On-Base Percentage

Divergence is the ability to locate objects in the distance, impacting an athlete’s ability to anticipate and react. Divergence may impact a player in the following ways:

  • Ability to pick the ball out of the pitcher’s hand
  • Early pitch recognition skills such as seeing the spin, trajectory, and spin of the ball.

When a hitter accurately recognizes the pitch earlier then the hitter has a significant advantage at the plate.

Early pitch recognition skills give the hitter more time to judge ball/strike and to accurately predict the exact spot where they need to direct the barrel of their bat for solid contact.

Early pitch recognition skills can also help a hitter have more confidence at the plate because they know pitch type, speed, and future break on the pitch earlier. Knowing the pitch type earlier gives the hitter a better chance to execute their best swing, or to let the pitch go by for a ball.

How Recognition Impacts On-Base Percentage

Recognition is the ability to observe, process and recall a series of visual targets, and respond properly. Recognition may impact a player in the following ways:

  • Pick up pitch types and pitcher cues
  • Reaction-time
  • See signs during the game

Well-developed visual recognition skills allow the patient to view visual stimuli, process it and respond quickly and accurately to the stimuli.

When a player sees a pitch, processes that information quickly, and has the ability to respond quickly and accurately it gives the hitter a distinct advantage at the plate.

Hitters who have better recognition skills have the ability to recognize the pitch pattern earlier and give themselves more time at the plate. When a player has better recognition skills they have the ability to "slow the game down."

How Eye Tracking Impacts On-Base Percentage

Eye Tracking (saccadic eye movements) allows you to process and follow an object while always monitoring all aspects of the game. Tracking may impact a player in the following ways:

  • Reaction to pitch
  • Reaction time while fielding
  • Monitor developing play

Well-developed visual tracking skills allow the hitter to search and scan a field of view, locate, process, and react to the items in that field during that search process.

Hitters with faster and more accurate eye tracking movements move their eyes to the ball earlier allowing the hitter to have more time to process the information from the incoming pitch.

When hitters have around .43 seconds to recognize a pitch and respond, every tenth of a second counts.

How The Entire Visual System Impacts On-Base Percentage

All four visual skills outlined above work together in order to help players reach base more frequently than their peers.

When we break down each individual skill we can see how each individual skill can assist the player with their performance at the plate. When a player excels at all four of these skills then you start to see a higher on-field performance.

Some players are born with elite visual skills, but many are not. That's why we recommend college baseball player to at the very least take our evaluation to gain an understanding of how their visual skills are impacting their performance.

Even for players who naturally have great visual skills, it's still in their interest to sharpen their visual skills with training.

How To Improve Your Hitters Visual Skills

Visual skills, like other baseball-specific skills such as swing mechanics and fielding, can be improved through training. Vizual Edge makes visual skills training available to college programs in an easy-to-implement and cost-effective solution through our web-based solution, The Edge Trainer.

In preparation for their upcoming 2019 season, one of our NCAA Division 1 programs implemented the Edge Trainer for their team. This team eventually went on to play in the NCAA tournament.

After analyzing the team's baseline evaluation scores, Vizual Edge implemented customized visual skills training programs for each player on the team. Training with Vizual Edge is recommended to be done 3 times per week, lasting 10-15 minutes each session, and can be done from home on any tablet or laptop.

Below is a look at the stellar training improvements of some of those players, which helped fuel their team's success during the 2019 season.

Visual Skill Improvements 1024x576 1

7 of 8 players followed their prescribed training program on their own from their dorm on campus or at off-campus housing. Of the 7 players who completed their prescribed training, 6 improved in convergence, recognition, and tracking.

"The biggest thing was I really felt like we didn't miss fastballs. Sure, we would occasionally miss breaking balls, but we very rarely missed fastballs which was a big difference from the year before."

NCAA Division 1 Baseball Coach After Implementing Vizual Edge With His Team

3 of 8 players who followed their prescribed training protocol improved their divergence scores. It's not uncommon for players to take longer periods of time (more than 6 months) to make significant improvements when training divergence.

That's Great - But How Did Training With Vizual Edge Affect Their On-Field Performance?

The three main skills we focus on with baseball players are convergence, recognition, and tracking. Our research and analysis found that these three skills are extremely critical across many major statistical categories when we did a full data analysis with our MLB Database.

As a coach, you know there are many variables that impact performance from year to year.

A player can make drastic improvements between freshmen and sophomore year simply by being more comfortable and having more time to implement adjustments from coaches.

Because of the number of variables that impact performance we don't claim to be fully responsible for jumps in player performance. We understand that we are a part of the performance equation that gives players an edge when they step onto the field.

For example - a player on the Division 1 team mentioned above, would come back to the dugout and tell his coach, "I just didn't see it," after taking a strike three call, prior to training with Vizual Edge. This same player also scored an 11/77 (9th percentile) on the convergence portion of our evaluation, which validates why he "didn't see it."

Convergence is the ability for hitters to judge the speed, trajectory, and spin of the ball as it approaches the plate. In the case of this particular player, he was not able to accurately focus on the ball as it approached the plate.

After training with Vizual Edge throughout the season, he was able to improve not only his convergence ability but all of his visual skills and scores in our system. He also told his coaches post-training that he felt like he "could see the ball better," indicating improved visual confidence at the plate.

His batting average, OBP, and HR's all increased from the previous season. How much of this can be attributed to Vizual Edge training?

We can't say for certain, but with the depth of our analysis from our MLB database, we know that having better visual skills is correlated to higher on-field performance in many major statistical and advanced analytical categories.

Fill The Form Out Below And Get 5 Free Evaluations For Your College Program

When I discuss Vizual Edge with college coaches, they immediately have a few players they believe may have some visual skill deficiencies, which affect their performance at the plate.

Right now you can get 5 free evaluations for your program simply by filling out the form below. We will set up your account, send you our testing/training 3D glasses, and walk you and your players through the evaluation process.

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